While the lockdown has compromised everyday working life in many ways, we have tried to use this time to focus our attention on the new work we had begun to develop before the Spring.
This has culminated in the Salmon Dish, the first of a new range of pieces we plan to make using our shiny, new piece of equipment – an English Wheel.
The inspiration for this piece stems from the English Wheel itself. Developed in the early years of motorcar and aeroplane production to shape sheet metal into panels, the English Wheel stretches the surface of the metal to form compound curves. It is a highly-skilled process and the stamping press eventually became the preferred equipment for these industries, especially once they moved into mass production.
We’ve been quietly fascinated for some time now by the possibility of using an English Wheel to work silver. It seems to us that the ability to produce a number of different forms using a single tool and the natural appeal of the smooth, sweeping aerodynamic shapes it creates offer excellent potential for an exciting new direction in silversmithing. Traditional silversmithing has well-established methodologies for making precisely round things but has less to offer if the maker is aiming for a considered asymmetrical form – something to which the English Wheel is specifically suited.
After some initial research, we managed to source a modern English Wheel and Brett attended a course at the Heritage Motorcar Museum in Bicester for an introduction to ‘wheeling’. From there it was a question of getting know this new piece of equipment and exploring how silver might respond to it.
Once the experiment was underway, we were able to enjoy the gentle, rhythmic ‘sighs’ of the silver between the rolling wheel and the anvil wheel – quite a change from the usual hammering and noise of traditional silversmithing!
The resulting Salmon Dish comprises a polished dish of approximately 750mm length and cover with ‘fin’ handle, designed for presenting a whole fish at table. It will make its debut this Autumn at the Craft In Focus event at Hever Castle from 11th -13th September and as part of our participation in this year’s digital Goldsmiths’ Fair from 22nd September – 4th October and the digital Elements Festival from 6th-8th November.
We will be continuing to experiment with this new technique – so watch this space for news of more new pieces.