Week 9 has been a great week for me at Eskae Private Jeweller, not only was I making jewellery but also learning traditional smithing methods such as forging.
Smithing dates back to the Iron Age and involves striking the platinum or gold with a hammer on an anvil of different shapes and styles to produce a desired shape, form or function. In my case, I was making a thin silver dish for wax to be heated up in and to be used with wax seal.
To begin the thin silver dish, I rolled the metal out to the desired thickness and then scribed a shape onto the metal with a carbon tipped scribe. I then cut the shape out with a saw and dressed back the flat piece of silver with a file and then my emery paper. The metal needed to be smooth and clean, before I could begin creating the shape with a hammer, so I began to emery the surface of the dish so that the preparation was done before I started the forging.
After cleaning up the surface of the metal, I began hammering with a flat metal hammer. I placed the metal over a round ball called a ball punch, which was held in place in the bench vice. The round ball punch helps to create the curve and dome in the bottom of the dish as I strike the silver with the hammer while holding it over the ball punch. I also used a softer plastic mallet to hit the metal into the desired shape as it was easy to control my hitting strokes as well as sometimes i needed to be aware that i wasnt going to bruise the silver with the steel hammer.
Forging was fun to do, as I had to learn how to hit the metal on a particular angle to draw the metal down in one direction and create curves. During this process I constantly looked at the symmetry of the piece, to make sure each side looked the same.
Once I had created the initial shape with the hammer and mallet, I then cut into the back of the dish and removed a wedge of the metal. By bringing the two cut edges of the wedge together, the dish became deeper and gave the dish a nicer looking line. Once the edges were lined up against each other with no gaps, I soldered the join. Now that the back was soldered and tapped into place, I could then work on the visual design on the sides of the dish. To create curves and a flow in the design, I began marking with a pen what I thought would be a more organic and interesting line. I then used various files to file down the excess metal to where the new design line was. Then came the tricky part and probably most challenging- matching the other side to the newly filed side.
The dish is almost finished and I will be making a wax pourer to go with the dish and stamp.
I have enjoyed week 9 as I was able to learn an ancient technique which I am told is a dying art. It was challenging and also a great way to learn how to look at creating art, objects and designer jewellery in a different light.
I cannot wait to tell you what has been happening this week in week 10!
Have a great week, talk to you soon,