Mail on Sunday – Silver Trophies

An interesting but rather difficult job for the Silversmith this month was to make two silver flag trophies for the above company.

There were several problems. Firstly to source a small amount of  appropriate material for the first stage of the flag making. As they were to be silver plated rather than solid silver a decision had to be made as to what the base metal should be. They were to be engraved with the Mail on Sunday logo and the name and location of the tournament. Brass was considered, but discounted as it would have bean difficult to bend in the shape of a flapping flag. Copper? this would have bent more easily but does not cut cleanly during the engraving process.

There is however another copper alloy which would perform better this is called guilding metal. This possesses both malleability and reasonable cutting qualities. The problem however was where to buy a small amount. The pieces are only 7″ x 4″ x 1mm thick. We had some 1.5mm thick in stock and decided to roll it down from that.

Although a long process, which required four anneals it was much cheaper than buying an 8ft x 4ft sheet. Next the sheet was polished and then engraved with the logo and inscription. Upon return from the engraver the sheet had to be cut to resemble a flapping flag and bent back and forward to achieve the effect. No mean feat with out spoiling the engraving. After several practise sessions with a plain piece of metal a method was established.

Next the flag pole was made and fixed to the flag, repolished and silver plated.

The plinth that the flags stand on were black lacquered wood. I used maple, and they have a plate pinned to the top which also was engraved.

All components finished and finally polished, assembled and dispatched seven days ahead of delivery date.

JA Campbell Silversmiths if you need something a bit different!

The joy of freshly ground spices

I have been creating a curry or a stir fry on a Saturday evening for a good few years now. Some recipes call for ready ground spices, but a few state ‘whole seeds to be ground’. I was not aware of the huge difference until I ground a tablespoon of coriander seeds. You will need a mortar and pestle or spice grinder for this. What a difference! I had not realised coriander could give off such a pungent aroma, and what you need to be aware of is, not only the improved aroma but improved flavour also. This wonderful flavour from freshly ground seeds, in my opinion, seems to be three times stronger than ready ground. Try it and see what you find!

This principle obviously applies not only to coriander, but all seeds and spices used as flavourings, including peppercorns. How much nicer it is, especially using a sterling silver pepper grinder, to have a fresh grinding of black pepper over your scrambled egg on toast for breakfast in the morning. As much or as little as you like. A pepper mill distributes the grindings much more evenly than a pepper shaker.

There is a misheld belief that black pepper is hot! This is however not the case as white pepper is hot, but black much more flavoursome.

Buying spices from supermarket spice racks in small glass jars can be expensive. Using a small independant Asian store can be a pleasurable experience and you will also find fresher, larger, less expensive packs along with some good personal knowledge and advice.

John Campbell

Designer & Master Silversmith

Repair to a Golfer

Several weeks ago a customer found my JA Campbell silver website. He had a silver-plated golf cup trophy which had a swinging golfer as the finial. This had been broken at the ankles and he had lost his club. The customer phoned and asked if I could perform a repair. Before I committed myself I suggested he get it to us for a visual assessment. When it arrived I found it had been made from a low melting material like lead or antimony and then silver plated. It had been nicely modelled however. Someone had also attempted a repair previously using one of the 2 part epoxy resin glues.

I asked the customer if he could leave it with me for a more detailed inspection and to report back. My best guess was that the metal was antimony. I did some research on Google on how to solder this material, as soldering was going to be the only way to make a successful, neat and strong repair. On this basis I quoted him £80 on the understanding it might not be successful. For me, I like a challenge and he seemed happy to accept the option.

Firstly, every trace of the resin glue had to be removed from the fracture area as this would deter any solder flow. Once the joints were thoroughly clean, the parts, body, legs, ankles and shoes were clamped together in a vice. Bakers fluid flux was introduced into the joint and using a soldering iron tinman’s solder was teased into both sides of the ankle joints. The solder flowed in beautifuly and neatly without any extra damage to the ankle area. After a thorough wash, careful removal of ecess solder followed by a polish of the repair area, the figurine was perfect once again. Probably stronger now than when it was made as the break was probably the result of shrink cracks in the original casting process.

Finally the golfer had to be fitted with a new club. Being silversmiths we do not have any base metal in stock so he now sports a ‘solid silver ‘club!

Mission accomplished, customer delighted. Perhaps he would be interested in a golf decanter to stand alongside his newly refurbished trophy.

Another interesting piece of work for the Silversmith.