Raised Britannia silver bowl the start of planishing and problems encountered

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Wato wato, summer has been great here, hope you are all enjoying a holiday, well hopefully anyway.

Starting to part planish the Britannia silver bowl before the rest of the shaping is carried out. I do this because planishing is a tricky skill to master. On the face of it, what could be simpler, just overlap the blows with a polished faced planishing hammer on a polished stake, no worries eh!

Stake selection is critical if you wish to achieve good results, also planishing is not a one shot deal, it happens over successive courses and becomes ever finer and gentler towards the end result of the finish you wish to create. I will go into a little more detail in the next post as I also wanted to highlight a massive boob I made in selecting a raising stake, in this case my cows tongue stake.

I turned it from its concave gentle curve the other side to a rather more aggressive convex curve. In the past I have managed to ‘bully’ copper into this slight depression, creating the wrinkles that I used to shrink the material, creating the narrowing mouth of the entrance as I wanted. In silversmithing this is perhaps a little misguided on my part, silver being altogether more resilient to hammer blows than copper.

Looking at the pictures you will notice that things were going quite nicely up to the 18th course. I keep things tidy after each round by truing up with a mallet on the stake to help me to keep track of where things are going, as well as cutting down on the time taken to planish at a later stage.

The next picture shows the stake with the convex curve that I tried to drive the silver into to help shrink the mouth and bring the shape in. The following pictures up to the 25th course will show the sorry result of the assumptions that I made, comparing my results with the copper vessels I had made previously.

The silver resisted the force of the hammer blows far more than the copper. This meant that as I landed my blows from my raising hammer, the stake acted like a kind of, equal and opposite hammer. This pushed the silver into the bulge you see up to this point. I am embarrassed to see the pictures and feel a little foolish for not noticing this effect earlier, correcting it sooner by going back to the concave side of the cows tongue stake.

Round 29 shows you the bowl after I took this action and went back to the ‘propper’ side of the stake. I tried to bring the sides in too fast and this was the result. Perhaps this was part of the reason the rim cracked, more of this in another post.

I have been made aware that I write, not to mention talk, too much making it difficult for people to keep attention to what I’m trying to convey. With this in mind I will leave this post for you to ponder, going into more depth with planishing, and the cracked rim in another post.

Thank you again for your kind messages, I very much appreciate them. Until next time.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art 🙂

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Sinking Britannia silver bowl, preparing for raising

Wato again,

back to work after all the show malarkey, I feel bound to say I much prefer the workshop to the marketplace, oh well we all have to do things we don’t like eh.

A previous post goes into more detail regarding sinking, please search back if anything is not clear.

The pictures are pretty much self explanatory, however I will try to add what I think is not. If you see experienced silversmiths at work they will invariably be less precious than me in the early stages. In another post I said that the material would not forget, it’s worse than that at times. A slight variation in the early stages ignored can turn into an unpleasant wrestle that costs more time than if you corrected it to start with. As a result I do not raise too much too quickly, my connection to the material is not good enough at this stage so I do everything I can to make sure corrections are as minimal as possible, more importantly corrected as they happen.

One of the most difficult things to master is consistency, this consistency is on many levels, I will try to put into words what I have experienced. The hammer blows need to be regular and controlled, you need to listen as every time the hammer make a sharp clang, you have compressed the silver at this point, remember what I said about clay, try to think of it this way, I find it helps. This will cause an area to distort and expand away from it’s surrounding material. In a future post I will show you how I correct this challenge, best left for now though.

Consistency of the placement of the silver disc as it is hammered to the stake. I use a very gentle domed stake to start raising, however this is a double edged sword; yes the curve is gentle and less likely to make your disc distort to look like a long flowing dress, worse a pringle crisp. The challenge is to keep presenting the disc in the same place throughout the round, the natural state being for the sheet to skeet about the top of the domed stake. The disc must be supported, angled slightly towards you, the hammer blow coming down just ahead of the contact point meaning you are using the hammer to kind of fold the material over the stake as it is in an air space, without hammering so hard as to drive it into the stake causing stretching. I hope this makes sense as it is a fluid movement that requires you do rather than just read. Use some scrap copper to practice, the best advice I can give through hard earned experience is do not hammer like crazy, every single hammer blow should be considered and accurate. A pro may well sound like a woodpecker, I pretty much guarantee you try it without many hours of experience and it will end in tears. Again it may not look too bad in the early stages. The silver will remind you later that you were less than diligent in your task as the errors multiply.

I show the silver on a sandbag resting on an engineers surface plate, silversmiths call it a flat iron. It is used to accurately mark out machined parts, great for box making as well, more on that in another post. The beauty of this plate is that it is truly flat. Between each round I check it agains this plate to ensure the disc is raising equally, again I will cover this in an upcoming post.

The raising stake I used for this bowl I made with the aid of an angle grinder and other abrasives. If interested I will show this. I made this one as the commercial cows tongue stake was too flat for the early stages of raising from the point. Stake selection is crucial, I am still trying to get a feel for it, nowhere near proficient at this stage, time will put that right though.

It is much easier to use a stake such as this as opposed to the domed stake being as it has a defined ledge to locate against, the silver being less prone to skidding around, the blows being more definite, less room for error. Please take time to look at the pencil lines I draw to show just how little I raise art each course. When I get a better feel I will be more aggressive, at this stage slow and steady is the order of the day.

Make sure the hammer face rests, at the end of each blow, squarely to the stake underneath. Rocking it side to side will cause unevenness, worse the edge of the hammer face can dig in causing a dink that can become impossible to remove if too deep. Other problems arise if the face is presents too far forward or back, just aim for all of the hammer face to contact at the same time. Consistency is hard with all of these considerations eh!

I wanted to free form this bowl as I didn’t want to be held back by looking at a definite plan. I think in the early stages this is no bad thing, however don’t let it become habit as, with all thats going on it is easy to become disoriented without a defined template to check against. I will use new next time to take my making skills to the next level.

I think thats enough for now, I hope this helps, please let me know if you would like clarification. I really think you would benefit from seeing a tutor who is experienced. I have a sack or two of failed experiments. As you see from my bowls acceptable results can be obtained with little more that looking at some demos. I feel certain I would be far further forward if someone had ‘held my hand’ in the early stages as it were. It is so easy to become despondent, no really!

Don’t be, just $*%ing hit it 🙂

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

New Designers exhibition in London

http://www.newdesigners.com/

Wato wato

I’m off to London for the new designers exhibition Next Tuesday, displaying my jewellery on stand J9 with Truro College, if anyone is around, be great to see you there.

I will be there with Sandra Austin, she will have a website to follow shortly, I will share it with you when I get it.

Danielle Elkes who has a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DaniellesCornishJewelleryDesigns

Abigale Ashmore who also has a FB page   https://www.facebook.com/abiashmoresilver

Frank Luckham FB page and web site

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frank-Luckham-Minimalist-Jewellery-Artist www.frankluckham.co.uk

And Paul Pennington, who’s  wife Clair, has a shop in the beautiful Cornish harbour in Porthleven, well worth looking at the photographs of the harbour and the position of his shop, idyllic.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Jewellery-Workshop-Porthleven

http://www.porthlevenjewelleryworkshop.co.uk/

This is just a quickie introduction to my fellow students who I will be displaying allongside. With their permission, I will introduce them to you over coming posts to give you a break from the dryer topics I try to communicate to you.

I haven’t forgotten the Raising of the silver bowl, rest assured I will continue to post after I return from the show.

Once again if you are around it would appear to be a blinder of a show. Be great to catch up, you could also meet the others as well.

Until next time, all my very best wishes.

Stu Art.

Victoria Lansford picture of the month June 2013

vlhos blog picwindows

Yesterday I completed the end of my BA in Jewellery and Silversmithing, I am minded of the old saying, one door closes and another opens.

As negative as this experience was it has been eclipsed by this fantastic honour to be picture of the month on Victoria Lansfords blog accessed through her excellent, informative website.

http://www.victorialansford.com/Pic-of-the-Month.html

For those of you who have followed my blog from day one will perhaps remember my introduction to her signature chasing tools. As my earliest ‘instructor’ its fair for me to say I would not have achieved any of the Eastern Repousse that you have seen so far. I also include the David Huang inspired bowl, I know she does not make this sort of thing, however the skills I learnt are completely transferable.

I want to take the opportunity sincerely thank her for such generous recognition and to give you all the reminder to visit her site again, to look at her fantastic work and learning resources that led me down the chasing and repousse path to start with.

This act of recognition that I have experienced here is akin to having the master recognise and praise the apprentice. This is a life changing moment for me and one that I will continually remind myself of when the black dog comes calling, as it does when I’m at my lowest ebb.

Many times not able to see any wood for trees, I try to remind myself that balance is to be aimed for. Just as my lows are very low, this is a fantastic, timely, very welcome and awesome high that will, I feel sure, help me to redress to a kinder perspective in future. Thank you so very much Victoria.

I will continue to post the, now completed, Britannia silver bowl raising process in another post to follow.

All I have to do now is start to make a living!!!!!

Until next time, all my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Raised Britannia silver bowl

wato wato,

This is the completed Britannia silver bowl that I started to cover in the previous post. It was a very pleasurable and satisfying piece that has taught me a lot of valuable lessons I will share with you over the coming weeks, warts and all!

The eagle eyed among you will notice that the rim is nowhere near as thick as I intended. This was because I fractured the rim and had to cut off my hard fought for peened and caulked rim.

I chose Britannia silver as it is a little like a half way house between stirling and fine silver. I have much more experience of stirling and a little with fine silver. Later, if anyone would welcome an introduction to forging, hammer forging that is 🙂 I will show examples of rings I made from round and square fine silver lengths. Another time I will give more information about the different types, for now, suffice to say, fine silver is lush to work with, to a point. It work hardens quite quickly and goes from a soft clay like feel, accompanied by a dull thud of the hammer blow to a shrill metallic clang and subsequent shattering once work hardened.

Stirling silver is more forgiving due to its higher copper content, it is also more resistant, harder if you will, to move than the other types.

Britannia was my choice for a first silver bowl for two reasons. First the colour is, in my opinion, nicer. Being deeper, less chrome like; again this is just my opinion, not a fact. The other reason was that fine, my favourite, would be too tricky to start with as a first attempt, being far less forgiving of overworking, something I am guilty of at this point. I know coward. As the saying goes, better to be a live chicken than a dead hero, or something like that 🙂

The fact I broke the Britannia silver rim, I shudder to think of the mess I would have made if I started with fine, I’m glad I chose as I did. Yes, I would likely have not had the same challenge had I started with Stirling. But I wanted to push myself a little bit and try something I haven’t done before, perhaps not a total coward then eh!

I hope to be able to get some better pictures. I just thought, as I started the thread about the build process it would be helpful for those interested to go back to images of the completed bowl to see how the progress goes.

Until the next time, please keep your thoughts coming. Is this blog useful to you, does it help you, are my explanations helpful and clear, is there anything I missed, anything else you would like to see covered.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art.