Al fresco is coming

An essential piece of the al fresco summer table is the stylish sterling silver and crystal salad bowl. The sterling silver salad servers seen in action during one of my recent evening meals complement the bowl perfectly. Still in the dining room at the moment- but I have high hopes for some warm summer weather to come soon!!

Salad bowl

You may wish to add other important items such as the sterling silver oil and vinegar set and the sterling silver salt and pepper mills not forgetting a sterling silver and crystal decanter for your chilled Chablis.

Enjoy the summer soon to come!

Mahogany Hogget – Customer service!

Today – an unusual job! A regular Australian customer asked if the wooden base on one of our hogget decanters could be made from Mahogany. This one is usually made in Maple wood and is easy to “turn” and is light and modern in colour.

I tried to dissuade him by saying that mahogany is unavailable in the thickness that this base required and that the block would have to be made by laminating several thickness of mahogany together and hence an extra cost. He was not put off and ordered and paid for it there and then.

I glued several layers of mahogany together a few days ago and today did the turning and polishing. I have to admit it does look quite good. Not my taste – but I am not the customer and also I do not have a monopoly on good taste!!!

Hogget Mahog

The moral of this story is all about giving the best customer service possible.

Ice Bucket or Claret Jug?????

The week after the Christmas break I decided to replace the ice bucket we had sold in December. Not having made one of these for a couple of years I had to stop and think how? The main difficulty with the making of this piece is the very long solder seam in the body which is about 10″ long and if it is to be perfect in every way including strong and invisible it will surely test the skills of any silversmith.One thing if you are doing this regularly, but another matter if not!

This ice bucket was no exception in that the solder seam failed miserably. It was weak (broke at every attempt to move it) and highly visable. After several attempts to repair it I decided not to proceed and to scrap it.

All was not lost however as most of the area was good it was only the seam area which was bad, mainly due to the thinness from subsequent repair attempts. After cutting out the seam area the ice bucket was returned once more to a flat sheet and 4 x 4″ diameter discs were cut from it. These discs became claret jug neck components therefore saving 80% of the ice bucket material.

Such a malleable metal silver, especially if purchased from a reliable source, in this case Cookson Precious metals.

Silver & Crystal Decanters

At this time of year one of the most popular items in our range are Silver & Crystal decanters.

At the main meal on Christmas day what could be better to really set off your table than by serving wine in one of our elegant decanters. There are a selection of shapes to choose from and even a double size one that holds two bottles of wine – the Magnum decanter– if you have a large number to serve. It saves time refilling the decanter.

Red wine, even white wine, definitely the after dinner port or sherry and all the spirits!!

All our decanters are in stock and there is still time to have one delivered in time for Christmas – as a present or for your own table.

JA Campbell Silversmiths – 24 hours a day – 7 days a week- we can take your order

Check out the selection now!!

Who could ask for anything more?

As the title says “who could ask for anything more?”

Claret or any red wine? served from a Silver & Crystal Claret Jug

It just has to be SILVER from JA Campbell. Made in England – both the crystal and the silver.

Still time to order for Christmas delivery.

Taste de Vin Galore!

It is my guess that this order for wine tasters was for a wine society, vineyard, wine wholesaler or something, otherwise who would need 20 taste de vin?

However it is better to wonder why than do or die (an old fashioned saying!)

Coincidentally my usual supplier Cookson Gold was out of stock of 1.2 mm sterling silver sheet so I was forced to use my second preferance, Argentium, an Italian producer with an office in Birmingham, England. No complaints, on time, on quality and even telephoned to ask if I wanted the plastic covering removed prior to circle cutting. This was a nice touch as it is tiresome to have to remove this from the circles prior to spinning. It seemed that the pressure from the circle cutter blades sticks the plastic on even better.

The beauty of big batches is that one always finds shortcuts in the making process that one does not find in small batches for example. The serpent handle casting needs to have all the surface contaminants and oxides removed from the soldering area. They also need to be fitted carefully to the spinning component. For small batches this is normally done with a “sage” file and it quite slow, tedious and slightly imperfect. With a large batch however it was worth setting up a small (4″) drum sander to do the same task as the file. This was both quick, perfect and made the soldering of the handle to the spun body a doddle.

The London Assay Office under the guidance of Terry Dak did a superb job of the hallmarking despite the fact that the bodies were sent in pre soldering ie without the handles attached and were therefore “hard” having not yet been annealed/softened in the soldering process. This makes the punching process more difficult.

NB Hard silver is much more impact resistant than soft annealed silver.

The job is now delivered on time and on quality. Another satisfied customer?

Taste de Vin selling well!

Just noticed we are out of stock of our silver taste de vin.

This suprised me as it does not seem long since I made a batch, however, time flies when you are having fun. Time to start a fresh batch. The first step is to locate the rubber for injecting the serpent handle prior to casting. This is done by friends at BAC Lee and Russell and employing the lost wax method.

I worked with Lee’s dad Brian years ago, became friends and had many good sailing expeditions together. This was before I bought my own boat.

The lost wax method of casting is where a model of what you want to cast is made in wax which is invested in Plaster of Paris, subsequently melted out and replaced with in this case molten silver.

At the time of ordering the cast handles the silver discs for the bowl are ordered from Cookson Precious Metals, our preferred supplier.

When the two components have arrived the first step is to spin the bowl more details of this on the website page. Then the cast handles are fettled, fitted and soldered to the body. The taste de vin is now almost done, barring hallmarking and polishing. What I like about this product, is that it is simple to make and sells well and is profitable which I cannot say for much of my range.

They seem to be selling especially well probably due to the new interest in wine, this applies to me also as I regularly attend wine tastings and have learnt a lot more about the subject. How Chardonnay can vary, for example, oaked or not, different climate, terroir etc.

Salute!!!! Learn and enjoy your wine plus get yourself over to France to the Alsace region, a beautiful area with hundreds of little historic family vineyards and stacks of quality wine at amazing prices that you probably will not find in the UK.

Remenber red wine is improved by decanting as described on the Silver and Crystal Chateauneuf decanter page.

John Campbell