American Silver

Since yesterday was the 4th of July I decided to have a look across the ocean at American Silversmiths. America has a great history of silversmithing and has lots of societies and organisations dedicated to maintaining this 3000 year old craft. I didn’t know I was part of a 3000 year old club until I found the Society of American Silversmiths website. It’s nice to know they were dealing with the same hammering, forming and soldering problems all those years ago!

When most people think of American silversmiths they probably think of Paul Revere, the country’s best known silversmith. Although he was made famous for his legendary ‘midnight ride’ in the American Revolution and not his silverware!

I’ve picked out a few pieces from some American artists, of course there is lots more amazing work out there but this is just a little taster to celebrate Independence Day.

I found the work of Michel Royston through the Society of American Silversmiths website, where I also spotted the work of Cynthia Eid who’s masterclass I’ll be attending this month. I love Royston’s flatware. Like all the best functional work it is just crying out to be put to use. This ladle which is hand forged is a perfect balance of beauty and function.

 Silver ladle, Michel Royston
Silver ladle, Michel Royston

 

 Silver Salad Servers, Michel Royston
Silver Salad Servers, Michel Royston

 

The other American silversmith I wanted to talk about Randy Stromsoe. I posted a picture of his workshop last year when I was dreaming of my perfect workspace. I kept meaning to come back to his work but I couldn’t remember his name and figured some day I would stumble across it. When I was doing a bit of Googling for this piece I found him and was reminded why I wanted to revisit his work.

Big Leaf Bowl, Randy Stromsoe
Big Leaf Bowl, Randy Stromsoe

I was looking at the website to see where he is based and discovered he has an exhibition space in Paso Robles, California. Paso Robles is a small town between Los Angeles and San Francisco that is well known for it’s wine. (I think it’s where the film ‘Sideways’ was filmed). Now here’s the weird thing…I’ve been to Paso Robles and I’ve stood in that gallery and I’ve drooled at his beautiful silver. And not until today did I put all of those facts together! When I was California last summer (sorry shameless name drop) we spent two days in Paso Robles sampling some of their amazing wine. After a tiring day of drinking wine we took a walk around the town and found a gallery that was having an exhibition opening.  Randy Stromsoe’s work jumped out at me straight away, not only because it was silver but because it was so beautifully made. So there you go, my tribute to the 4th of July resulted in the rediscovery of this silver that had been blurred by a weekend of wine drinking.

Randy Stromsoe Workshop
Randy Stromsoe Workshop

 

 

 

Lucian Taylor

Since I was at the Mindful of Silver exhibition in London I’ve been having a look at the work of Lucian Taylor. His work is featured in the exhibition along with a video of how the work is created. I found his work so interesting not only because of the amazing forms he creates but the process behind each piece. I can’t find the video on the internet so I’ll have to explain the process…sorry if I don’t do it justice.

Becoming Spherical I & II, Lucian Taylor
Becoming Spherical I & II, Lucian Taylor

He begins by creating the forms on a CAD program so he can work out the exact shape of the sections to create a sphere. This is then transferred onto the silver and cut out. The shapes are manipulated so it loses the precise aesthetic of the computer generated design. These sections are then shaped and TIG welded together. For those of you that want to know the TIG stands for Tungsten inert gas. It’s a type of welding most commonly used to weld thin sections of metal. They are welded together to form an accordion like shaped sphere. These are then expanded using hydroforming so the previous shriveled forms get transformed into bulbous silver spheres. They are inflated with high pressure water until a plump ripeness is achieved. The silver is pushed to its limits and I’m sure this process has suffered many casualties but it’s well worth the risk in my opinion.

Silver Flask, Lucian Taylor
Silver Flask, Lucian Taylor
Silver, Lucian Taylor
Silver, Lucian Taylor

In the Mindful of Silver exhibition he references 17th century Dutch art and his forms are influenced by these still life paintings. I love the finished pieces and knowning the process that created them. His use of industrial techniques along with traditional silver raising and forming techniques create these beautiful vessels. I also love the way the stems(where the water is pumped in) of the pieces remain on some of the work so you get a sense just by looking at them how they might be made. If you’re in London call to see them displayed along with the preparatory work in Goldsmiths Hall, the exhibition runs until the 26th July.

Silver flask, Lucian Taylor
Silver flask, Lucian Taylor

Spoon Part 5

This is part five in a series on how to make a spoon.

Click on the links to see Part one, two,three and four.

The spoon has been polished on the lathe and now it needs to be cleaned in the ultrasonic.  The ultrasonic cleaner is a bath of water that uses ultrasound and a cleaning solution to remove any dirt and grease. It does this by agitating the water to get into the difficult areas without damaging or scratching the piece. For this reason it is used for delicate items such as jewellery and optical lens and equipment.

 

Ultrasonic Cleaner
Ultrasonic Cleaner

 

Water vibrating in Ultrasonic cleaner
Water vibrating in Ultrasonic cleaner

 

Now that the spoon is nice and clean it just needs to pose for a few photos…