Confessions of a Silversmith

I have made literally thousands of items of silverware during my career as a Silversmith from the humble Napkin ring to the impressive Epergne. Thousands is quite a lot bearing in mind that I am a “handmade” Silversmith as opposed to a “machine made” one.

The “machine made” Silversmith would specialize in one category of production, he would probably be a Stamper, a Solderer, a Filer or a Piercer.  The “machine made” Silversmith would be responsible for making tens of thousands of components.

As a “handmade” Silversmith I have tended to make every item from start to finish (with the exception of polishing which I have not done much of).

One of the items in my current contemporary range is our Silver & Crystal Sugar Sifter. Not one of our best sellers, we have only produced several hundreds of these since the range was first launched. Now the confession!!!!

Apart from the early tests when the product first went into production I have never until this morning used this product for real!!!!!!!

A new box of cornflakes, a jug of fresh milk, a freshly squeezed orange from the skin and a stainless steel spoon poised ready to dispense the sugar. “No” I think out loud “let’s use the sugar dredger” It is ready to use filled with fresh caster sugar. What a joy! Evenly distributed with just a light shake, hardly any effort.

Why has it taken me 20 years to get around to using it? It must be the cobbler’s son senario.

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?