Presentation of the Surveyors’ Club commission

2nd November 2011

On Wednesday 2nd November, I was pleased to join the members of the Surveyors’ Club at their President’s guest night dinner, which took place in the beautiful surrounding of the Goldsmiths’ Hall.

It was a great occasion to present all the members of the Surveyor’s Club with their new silver table piece. It was such a wonderful and rewarding experience for me to see and hear the response of the members’ and guests’ of the Surveyors’ Club to the finished piece.

It was especially pleasing that John Harris’ wife was able to be with us for the presentation, as this silver commission was made possible by John Harris, a distinguished architect who generously left money to the Club in his will.

The engraved inscription inside the bowl reads, The gift of John R. Harris (1919 – 2008) to the Surveyors’ Club.

The commissioning process for this silver piece actually began two years ago, when some members of the Surveyors’ Club saw my work at the Goldsmiths’ Fair, an annual selling exhibition, which took place at the Goldsmiths’ Hall.

The commissioning group later got in contact with me, and we arranged a visit for them to see me at my workshop in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter.

The design process began with us all gathered round discussing possible ideas for pieces of silver and its purpose for being created. After much thoughtful consideration, the conclusion was to have a lidded box whereby the domed cover when turned over becomes a free standing shallow dish that could also be used to pass around chocolate truffles after dinner.

All the members in the commissioning group agreed on the theme of acanthus leaves, a motif that appears extensively in ornamental artwork and classical Corinthian columns.

At the beginning of the design process, one of the members kindly sent me some real life acanthus leaves so that I could study them for inspiration. This was very helpful as I was able to draw and study the leaves to better understand their subtle qualities of form, which I was then able to capture into silver on a three dimensional scale.

The symbolism and meaning associated with the acanthus is that of enduring life. And so I have given the piece the name, Longevity. The circular movement of the acanthus leaves represents the great length of life and prosperity of the Surveyors Club.

Thank you to all four members of the commissioning group for going on this creative and collaborative journey with me to commission a unique piece of silver, which will be a future heirloom to pass on to their successors.

The Making Process

The bowl started from a flat disc of silver, approximately 13’’ in diameter. The metal was hammered from the edge of the disc towards the centre. This technique of sinking, stretches the metal to form a shallow bowl shape.

The bowl shape was then hand raised and compressed with a raising hammer over a steel stake. This was performed in a concentric pattern to produce a hollow three dimensional form. At each stage of the raising operation, the metal was annealed, a heating process whereby the silver is heated to a dull cherry red colour to restore the malleability to the metal after it has been work hardened through repeated blows of the hammer.

The acanthus leaves were individually saw pierced and hammered from a sheet of silver using the technique of fold forming. Each leaf was then intricately soldered on to the cover to construct a circular formation of acanthus leaves.

Studio silver today at Kedleston Hall prize raffle

30th October 2011

The Prize Draw finale of 'Studio Silver Today’, the pioneering Goldsmiths’ Company exhibition, in collaboration with the National Trust, to broaden awareness of today’s modern silver movement, was held on Saturday 29th October.

The rising star artist silversmith, Theresa Nguyen, the artist in residence designed and made a beautiful beaker inspired by the neo-classical Kedleston Hall. The Hon Richard Curzon drew the winning slip from 9,500 entries and presented the delighted winner, Sheila Lake, a local lady with the beautiful beaker.

The National Trust commissioned this fascinating video of Studio Silver Today.

Introducing making in metal workshop: Part II

6th October 2011

I returned to Kedleston Hall on 6 October 2011 to deliver another master class, but this time it was a chance for the adults to experience making objects in metal.

I had seven students, who were keen to apply the silversmithing craft skills of hammering, sinking, forging and piercing that they had learnt with me throughout the day into practice.

The results at the end of the day were visually exciting, playful and surprising. Thank you to all the participants for this wonderful and eye opening experience!

Introducing making in metal workshop: Part I

2nd June 2011

An important part of a silversmith’s life must be the passing on of knowledge and skills to others.

On 2 June and 8 August 2011, I had the immense pleasure of running the introductory metal making workshop for 9 - 16 year olds at the National Trust property, Kedleston Hall.

During this creative metal workshop, participants learnt craft skills for creating forms and decorative surface finishes in britannia metal using techniques such as piercing, shaping, filing, drilling, hammering and hand chasing.

It was great to see the spontaneity of the young participants in transforming raw metal material in to expressive objects that they were proud to have made and could take home as gifts.

Thank you to all the participants for your unbounded enthusiasm and for a truly inspiring experience!