New shapes ….

I’ve been sketching new shapes for a while now and have finally had a little time before my holiday to put them into metal. I’m pretty happy with the initial experiments and I’ll set to work on them again when I’m back …

Caddy Spoon

I make some long handled tea spoons that have been part of my stand for a while now and, at a recent show, I took a commission for a caddy spoon version.

A Caddy Spoon is not an item that I’ve made before but is somehing that I’ve wanted to try for a while. I had a little drawing of the customer’s tea caddy and a fair idea of what would suit – knowing that they already liked my tea spoons. So I set about cutting the bowl of the spoon and raising it up then trimming it to back to a shape that I liked.

I had a few issues with the size of the handle – my long handled tea spoons have 4mm round handles but that just looked way too light weight once it was cut to the right length for this short handled caddy spoon. So I took the dimensions up to around 5mm round and think that it balances much better now. It certainly feels nicer in your hand and I’m a lot happier with the design knowing that I changed the weight of the handle.

Here’s a few images of the work in progress …

and the finished spoon, ready to go for hallmarking:

Standing on the shore, staring at the sea …

During the summer Angela Learoyd will be hosting a show in her beautiful Scottish gallery, filled with work that evokes the coast.

I was really excited to be asked to get involved – as the theme of the show matches the spirit of my work perfectly. There’s a wonderful selection of makers involved too:

Kathryn Williamson

Lindsay Kirkpatrick

Angela O’Keefe

The show runs from the 6th of July to the 1st of September in Angela’s Gallery in Doune, Scotland.

Fit for Purpose – Contemporary British Silversmiths at the V&A

When I was in London for Jewellery Week I made some time to sneak down to one of my favourite parts of the city – the Victoria and Albert Museum. Over the summer it’s hosting a show for the Contemporary British Silversmith‘s Society entitled ‘Fit for Purpose‘.

At the back of the silver galleries is a delicious little case filled with contemporary silverware:

The show has an interesting concept given that, in the last century or so, the market for silver has changed so radically and the ‘purpose’ for which most silverware is now made has shifted. Gone are the days of large firms making household, utilitarian silverware and the market is now much more dominated by studio makers exploring the craft for private clients and small retailers.

The work on display is varied, from that clearly designed for a more traditional purpose – like Louise Mary‘s salad servers (utilitarian, but no less elegant for being so) to the intentionally conceptual pieces of Rajesh Gogna.

There’s also a beautiful piece of Kevin Grey‘s laser welded work, a stunning set of angular beakers from Mary Ann Simmons and a wonderful sculptural tray from Alex Ramsey, which bears her distinctive and delicate cut patterning spread across a form I’ve not seen before.

For a small case it’s a wonderful collection of work that’s well worth a visit – the show continues in the V&A silver galleries until the 16th of September 2012.

Reticulated texture

While my workshop was open over the weekend I used the opportunity to make a batch of my new seaside pieces for a couple of galleries. I find, when I have multiples of one thing to make, that I easily get into a good working rhythm and gain some good working momentum.

I’m fairly new to reticulation though and I have to watch these pieces like a hawk to avoid melting them! Lately I’m getting a better feel for how the surface textures of the silver changes, and how to spot the warning signs of over heating – but when  started out it was all rather trial and error.

So, you start off with your nice, shiny wire:

and get heating, with a nice, gentle, feathery flame. I use charcoal bricks to support work that I’m reticulating – it tends not to stick to the charcoal and the heat reflects really nicely (which helps to keep the temperature even through the metal). There’s a brilliant tutorial on Ganoskin which takes you through the process and a quick video of me reticulating the wire here. With this being the end result:

Going back over the piece with a slightly more intense flame, right at the end, seems to even out the surface really well too. Once it’s all pickled clean for the final time it’ll look something like this:

these polish up beautifully into a texture that proves to be  wearing ever so well:

Stacking rings …

I had a little time this week to make some new seaside rings, ready for my trip to Malvern next week:

I made some little 3 or 4 ring stacks in a mix of sizes …

Fixed on some decoration …

Pickled them clean …

and got them ready for a good polishing next week …

Press Form Practice #7:

I got the acid out today and etched some little studs to test the textures.

I matted them afterwards for nice, washed-up-on-the-coast feel and had a play with finishes:

These are patinated black and left matte:

I like it on the earrings but I think it might be a bit too much when you get up to the brooch scale …

The form in these pieces is really important and in a way I think that having such a strong etch might have taken away from that.

I’ll take some pictures over the weekend of the plain frosted ones and the etched ones together and see how they compare …

Press Form Practice #5 – Britannia Silver

I bought my first piece of Britannia silver yesterday:

Britannia Silver

– it’s a lot like Sterling silver but while the Sterling stuff is 925 parts per thousand pure silver (the rest being an alloy of copper etc) Britannia is 958 parts per thousand pure silver.

This means that Britannia is a little softer than Sterling and much more suggestable. It stretches where Sterling might have cracked and is more cooperative for things like ambitious silversmithing and spinning.

So Britannia seemed just the thing when I was struggling to move my pressforming from beautiful, stretchy copper into unyielding sterling silver …

In terms of cutting, annealing and polishing I really can’t tell the difference between the two alloys but for overall stretchiness Britannia wins hands down.

Here’s how I got on with it:

It’s my first silver piece on the new press forms and I’m really pleased with how well it’s come out, now I just need to make some etching/finish decisions and I might have a range ready for the spring!

(blogged at Brewsmiths)

Press Form Practice #4

So, where was I with my press forming?

Ah, yes – earrings:

I’ve played around with the balance and hang of the larger piece a little more and I think I’m finally settled. I much prefer slightly asymmetric shapes to the precise structure of symmetrical ones – these look a little more like the fish/boats and sea of the coast that inspired them. I’ve got some new etching patterns in mind to decorate them too.

So far the range is shaping up like this:

though there’s at least another large brooch form already cut and waiting to be sampled on my bench …

Flotsam Hearts

I spent some time last week playing around with my new heart cutter, putting together a range for spring:

Here’s how I got on:

and it’s all available on Folksy and Etsy too.