2017-10-03

Ceramics courses Autumn 2017

My 8-week ceramic courses at Central YMCA, 112 Great Russell Street (Wednesday and Thursday evenings, 6:30 - 9pm) start Wednesday 11th October. Book by phone on 020 7343 1700.

2017-09-21

Fine silver vessel

This small vessel was raised from a 150mm disc of 0.6mm thick fine silver sheet. I arranged for alternate bands to be hammer faceted, and filed and polished. It only awaits hallmarking then shipping! The total weight is only 104gm, but the rim thickness is now 0.92mm.

While raising the pot I managed to split it near the base, so I sawed the conical base off and discarded the small cone. I then soldered a flat disc of 0.7mm fine silver to the open base of the pot, and was well pleased with the results. I chose 0.7mm thickness for the new base because I found that I had increased the wall thickness there by the action of raising.

Fine silver cup

And this is it after hallmarking.

Fine silver cup

Miniature bronze Art-Deco pot

I have made a range of six bronze, silicon bronze and gilding metal pots which are in various stages of progress. Illustrated is a classical bronze alloy (i.e. tin bronze) pot or urn which I imagine as a kind of miniature Jean Dunand (Art-Deco) pot. When I say miniature, the pot / urn was raised from a disc of bronze 148mm in diameter and 0.9mm thick. The rim thickness would comfortably be at least 1.5mm now, since the periphery of the disc by the nature of raising is 'closed in', compressing the metal, which thereby makes for a greater thickness.

Bronze art-deco Bronze art-deco

2017-01-22

Society of Designer Craftsmen show

I displayed the three hallmarked sterling silver pots, and four bronze pots, at the SDC Xmas Show at Rivington Street in London at the end of November / beginning of December. Sales generally were good, totalling about £5000 for the group of us displaying. The left-hand picture shows a corner of the ground floor part of the gallery behind the main service desk, the right-hand picture my pots arranged on one of the shelves.

SDC Gallery SDC Gallery


And the flyer for the exhibition, designed by the very talented Siân Renfrey;
SDC Gallery Flyer SDC Gallery Flyer

2017-01-11

Bronze Beaker #1

This is probably the most beautiful single container I have made, but unfortunately I just couldn't get the camera to show this. It started off as a plain straight-sided beaker, about 18swg; I got bored with it and left it for some years, then decided to chamfer, planish then polish above the base with a hammer, and planish and polish a band round the top. The centre section was left with the raising hammer marks. I now like it so much I am in process of making two more; one in gilding metal, and another in silicon bronze.


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2016-10-07

To Tumble No More

brass ex-tumbler brass ex-tumbler BRASS
bronze ex-tumbler bronze ex-tumbler BRONZE
Gilding metal ex-tumbler Gilding metal ex-tumbler GILDING METAL
Sterling silver ex-tumbler Sterling silver ex-tumbler STERLING SILVER

I must have got bored with the tumbling thing after making four tumblers in different alloys, so I decided to make a lid for the first brass tumbler. This showed pretty quickly that it was unstable, so I dimpled the base. After that I decided that I preferred the tumblers to be converted to pots with lids, so have two brass (only one shown), one gilding metal, one bronze and two sterling pots (again, only one shown). The not-shown sterling pot is still 'work under construction' and does not have a dimpled base; instead I flattened the base with a planishing hammer, then gave it a bevel all round the bottom edge. Pics later.

2016-04-30

Adventures in Tumbling

Sterling silver tumbler brass & bronze tumblers It's been a while since I posted since I have had little time and energy to update the blog. I have in fact made five tumblers; small metal cups which, although they wobble somewhat, will right themselves even when pushed to the horizontal then released. I read somewhere that it was an 18th Century Naval tradition to use silver tumblers for the officers, because the motion of the ship was less disturbing for a tray of tumblers full of whiskey! All the tumblers were made from a 120mm diameter disk of 18swg metal, using either gilding metal & bronze respectively as in the pic top left; sterling silver top right; or brass (bottom two pics). I decided to dimple the base of the brass tumbler as in the right-hand pic. This makes it a lot more stable although it is still a 'tumbler', but reduces the height and internal volume and, as we all know, "size matters". In all cases, I left a centre band hammer-textured.

brass tumbler dimpled brass tumbler

2015-08-24

Completed sterling silver pot with lid

Silver pot with lid removedSilver pot with lidThe pictures show the first sterling round pot both with lid fitted and with the lid placed alongside, complete with my hallmarks.


The second pot, not pictured, is finished except for the making and soldering of a sterling dome to fit the collar I have made for the lid. For this second pot, I soldered the neck bezel using only the weight of an old file rather than wiring it up with binding wire as in the previous post - it worked rather better. And I was fortunate to find a cylindrical iron stake that was just the right diameter to allow me to exactly true-up both neck bezel and lid bezel.

2015-07-31

Silver version of the bronze pots

Unfortunately I now found that the silver (only 1.5mm thick) didn't behave the same way as the bronze, even using the same silversmithing stakes. Basically, I didn't have enough height to provide both a top shoulder and a bottom shoulder, so I decided to do without the latter. The picture shows the more advanced of the two pots with a silver strip, formed into a band, just after soldering to the base, wired up with iron binding wire, and coloured variously green with flux. The second picture shows the pot after pickling and before filing to remove all trace of errant solder, along with a second sterling silver band destined to be the bezel for the lid.
Silver pot before pickling Silver pot after pickling

16swg bronze pot continued

Bronze pot with double lid
Bronze pot with double lid
The first picture shows the second bronze pot with an added band of 16swg bronze to make a neck, just after soldering. The binding wires are still in place, along with dark green and blue stains from the flux. The following picture shows the same pot after pickling and a little filing to remove surplus solder.


Bronze pot with double lidI then made an exterior bezel from a strip of 1.2mm gauge bronze, and soldered a bronze domed lid (made from 16swg sheet) to it. The lid was decorated with planishing marks, which I intensified with the doming end of a large ball hammer.
Bronze pot with double lid

Presently, waiting on inspiration, I have retained the inner lid; the pictures show it without and with the second (outer) lid fitted. The inner lid is slightly loose, the outer one slightly tight. I won't change this behaviour until I've decided what it's supposed to be!

2015-07-01

Two sterling silver pots

I so liked the bronze 'acorn' pots made in an earlier post that I decided to try them or something like them in sterling silver, so I bought a sheet of 86x172x1.5mm sterling for just under £150, and sawed out two circles each of 42mm radius.
silver 'acorn' potAfter the usual initial sinking with a doming hammer using a wooden block with a crude saucer-shaped depression, then swapping to a raising stake and a raising hammer, I got a respectable-looking egg-shaped pair of silver bowls. I flattened the bases so they would stand, then planished them at least half a dozen times, with annealing in between, to get them to the state in the photo. I retained the hammered finish by using a light burnish of the surface while I considered what to do next.

Two bronze 'acorn' pots

I raised two small (50mm high) pots from 1.6mm bronze sheet, flattened the base of each on a cylindrical stake, then incurved the top quite sharply on a narrow iron stake.

Bronze 'acorn' pot
Bronze 'acorn' potI had originally intended them to have domed lids with stalks in the manner of a large acorn. But subsequently I found that I preferred to solder a collar made from a strip of the same bronze around the top to act as a kind of bezel for a lid, which latter I made from a domed and chased disc soldered to a band formed from 1mm bronze strip. The lower picture shows one of the pots more or less finished with an etched and domed 2p piece (soldered to a bronze band below) as lid. I highlighted the design with red enamel (the resin kind, not vitreous - too unreliable and not red enough in transparent).
This lid was one of three I made as test pieces; the second is pictured in the middle (I chased a tri-spiral on a domed bronze circle), the third was a domed circle of bronze chased with bumps which I had hope would simulate the top of an acorn, but which in fact reminded me more of a jelly mould (not illustrated!)
Bronze 'acorn' pot

Bronze goblet with separate hammered and filed decorative bands

The goblet was raised from a disc of 1.6mm bronze sheet. The base, originally domed, was flattened so it would stand upright and I hammer finished the rest of the surface. Then I soldered two 1mm round bronze wires round the upper portion.

Bronze goblet with wire decoration
The next step was to saw a light visual separation line round near the base where the tapered cylindrical section gave way to the domed base part, and finally I filed all the patination marks away from the base and from the band within the two wires. These filed areas were then sanded and polished on a buff.

Bronze goblet with wire decoration
Bronze goblet with wire decoration After some months, I decided to make a lid, as below left and right.

Two heavy hallmarked cylindrical silver boxes B

I have now finished the two small heavy hallmarked silver boxes and sent them to their new owners. The right-hand box is in fine silver, the left-hand one in Britannia silver; both have domed lids with fine silver filigree wire decoration. In addition each box has two bands of fine silver filigree wire round the sides as in the pictures below and in an earlier post. I was forced to do without the additional decoration of coloured stones I was contemplating due to shortage of studio time.

Fine silver filigree circle decorationHallmarked silver round box with filigree lid and body decoration

2014-11-25

Two heavy hallmarked cylindrical silver boxes

I have nearly finished two small but heavy hallmarked silver boxes. One box is in fine silver, the other in Britannia silver, both have domed lids with fine silver filigree wire decoration. In addition each box has two bands of fine silver filigree wire round the sides as in the picture below. They await final polishing, and addition of colour in some form; either enamel, or stone setting.

Hallmarked silver round box with filigree lid and body decoration

The picture below shows a single filigree unit used for the lid decoration, consisting of 3 'C' shapes in 0.8mm fine silver wire, soldered with hard solder into a circle of the same wire.  This is followed by a picture of three of these units soldered together, again using hard solder.

Fine silver filigree circle decoration Fine silver filigree 3-circle decoration

Next follows two pictures of the domed silver tops with the filigree soldered in place using easy solder.  The second one (fine silver) has a red heart-shaped CZ stone in place awaiting setting.

Britannia silver domed lid with fine silver filigree decoration Fine silver domed lid with fine silver filigree decoration

2014-08-07

Round brass box waiting on an idea

The first picture is a side view of the box, about 40mm diameter, showing the domed top and base, and the two filigree bands round the sides (the colours are my mobile's hilarious attempt at colour balancing, coupled with reflections). The second picture shows the top view, and the 1.5mm brass wire filigree decoration of spirals. I made the box of brass because I was tired of the rapid tarnishing of gilding metal. Polishing of the top using a conventional mop on a polishing motor was problematic, and I regard it as an unsolved problem for another day. Oh, and the idea the box is waiting on is 'what to do about the domed base?'. I made a domed base on a whim, and now somewhat regret it. In the photo, it is shown resting on the usual inverted saucer with a central hole, which turns it into a sort of lidded goblet.

Brass round box with filigree lid decoration Brass round box with filigree lid decoration

2014-06-01

The Britannia silver version round box

After the variously successful gilding metal versions, I decided to splash out £110 on 1.2mm Britannia silver sheet (for the outer barrel, dome and base) and 0.8mm sheet (for the inner bezel barrel). I had decided on probably two fine silver filigree bands as decoration. However the right-hand picture below shows the effect with an extra filigree band on the base, to exploit the fact that I had additional height in the inner bezel to exploit. But it is quite likely that I will roll some more filigree, in a much wider band, and use that for two bands as in the first picture. The box currently weighs about 140gm, and feels distinctly heavy (too heavy most likely, unless you are Royalty and used to such things). So if I make a future box, I will almost certainly scale the gauge down, or the size of the box up. In any case, there are a couple of unresolved issues; soldering of barrel to bezel without flooding the lower filigree ring, and removal of an unfortunate couple of deep scratches caused by being clumsy with a coarse file. And final sanding and polishing will likely highlight other defects!

Britannia silver box with filigree Britannia silver box with filigree

A return to round boxes; the gilding metal versions

I made a gilding metal round box to remind me of the process, last done some 4 years ago. By way of variation I domed the lid, and added a single band of fine silver filigree round the closing line of lid and box. The two pictures on the left are of this box, both with lid in place, and lid separated from box.

Gilding metal box with filigree Gilding metal box with filigree Gilding metal box with filigree Gilding metal box with filigree

I then made a second box but this time designed to take a filigree band both round the base and round the closing line. To make this possible, I soldered the base of the box to the inner bezel (which runs full-length of the box), the filigree band was threaded onto this, then the barrel of the box followed next. Another band of filigree on the bezel, then the lid part of the barrel closes over the remaining part of the bezel. The two right-hand pictures show this box, but without the upper filigree band in place. The box is still awaiting filing to clean away excess silver solder etc.