Yesterday I went to Shannon Tofts Studio to get some pictures taken of my finished pieces for the Degree Show Catalogue. It was a really good experience, allowing me to properly look at the pieces without the clutter of my bench and tools - once you take them out of those surroundings you can see what you've actually made, which is such a great morale-boost! Shannon is a very talented photographer, and has had plenty of practise at photographing silver (which can be tricky due to reflections) and I'm really pleased with the photos I ended up with - it all seems very real now!
The Brief: Design a Centrepiece for a round table suitable for use during the day AND in the evening, using silver as the primary material.
This centerpiece is based around the saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ so the concept of a sundial is used here to display this visually, with 12 geometric facets of varied heights all casting shadows in different directions. In the daytime, natural sunlight will cast shadows that move slowly round the table as time passes. In the evening, a candle is placed inside, creating shadows that get longer and move outwards with the passing of time (below right). The piece would be made entirely of silver, with the main structure being thick silver rod, some facets as solid sheet, and others have been pierced to add variation to the shadows. The 3D printed model is 1/6th of the final piece’s size, with the final piece measuring 27cm x 27cm x 42 cm.
For our end of semester hand in we had to do a presentation, as well as a physical submission. It was actually a really good way to reflect how far our initial ideas had come, as well as a motivational kick-up-the-bum in terms of how far we still have to go!
My work is centered around cranes and construction sites. I come from a small city, with not many buildings having more than two floors, so moving to Edinburgh I discovered a fascination with cranes, and the tall buildings I passed every day on the way into university, getting taller as time went on.
The two elements I have chosen to take forwards are the shapes created from the structures and the shadows these forms create - I like the idea of a 3D form creating its own 2D images. The ProtoPaper allowed me to explore both of these ideas, which I then looked at translating into different shapes and materials. This went on to influence my precious metal bursary application.
I also used wooden dowels to create more lattice like shapes, again playing with this idea of shadows that these forms created. I used this concept in my Craft and Design Awards entry, looking at different ways shadows can be created using natural light sources.
I started to look further at the shapes emerging and chevrons stuck out to me the most, so I began to look at what forms I could make out of chevrons. I started by using Rhino, a 3D modelling programme, as it was the easiest way to realise my designs quickly, and adapt them.
This quickly showed me there would need to be a curve in the net, but I wasn't sure if I liked this, seeing as everything was so geometric - it would also be really hard to get this even on every single facet. however, all the other designs seemed too expected so I settled for this one and used the 3D printed version as a guide for my silver piece.
I trialled the piece in copper and it worked fairly well, so I went ahead and started the silver one. I used 0.8mm silver sheet which worked really well as it was thin enough to score and bend neatly, however it didn't leave much thickness for cleaning up.
Unfortunately, due to an error in my time management I was running out of time and ended up rushing the cup to finish. I soldered the two halves seperately, and then the base onto the bottom one. Then I soldered the two halvess together. However, I misjudged the draft angle on each half, and when I soldered them together and cleaned up the joint, I filed away too much silver. This meant that when I soldered the cup finally together, this seam got too hot (as it was much thinner) and cracked.
The finished piece looked really good, except for the crack. I think I will definitely remake it as I'm happy with the design - just frustrated at myself for rushing it. I think, after Christmas, I will try and fix it by either filing back and stick soldering in the hope that it will fill it, or cut it into two and use the two nets separately, as two bowls maybe, so I can re-solder without them having to get so hot.
I'm pleased with how this semesters gone, but as I said at the start, I can now see how much more I have to do next semester. I'm excited for the challenge.
The Goldsmiths’ Company ‘Precious Metal Bursary Award’ is a prestigious national competition for final year students at UK colleges and universities studying goldsmithing, jewellery, silversmithing or related subjects at HND, or BA Degree levels. The awards will provide up to £1,000 of precious metal to a maximum of seven recipients in order to allow them to make a piece or range of pieces which illustrate their skills as designers and makers. Entrants to the competition are required to submit a design proposal that is fundamentally based upon the use of their chosen precious metal. Designs where precious metals play only a minor part will not be considered. Submissions should include finished and technical drawings as well as design development and sketchbook work. The submission should demonstrate creativity, flair and aspiration on the part of the entrant.
I began my design for this competition by exploring the way a sheet of metal can be folded to create new forms. I discovered ProtoPaper, which is a technical modelling paper made up of a perforated triangular mesh, allowing exact folds to be made.
I liked this flexibility, but the paper didn't hold itself in the forms I was looking for - which were these chevron/triangles that I so admired in cranes. I moved into metal, at first using 'shim' which is 0.04mm thick.
I really liked the dramatic shadows produced and the strong lines in play, however due to the thickness (or lack of) it was very fragile. I started experimenting more with thicker metal, using 0.8mm copper, and using a scorer to create the lines needed.
It worked well, and I was happy with the results - when it was polished up it gave really nice shadows, and the triangular structure added a lot of strength to the metal.
The thing I liked the most, was the view from the side - it created a beautiful even zig-zag which, if you had two or more strips of this concertina'd metal, meant they stacked together really nicely.
With this in mind I decided to design a set of three spoons, that would stack into each other. the idea was that the teaspoon, table spoon and dessert spoon would all be formed from single sheets of silver, scored and folded into shapes and then one panel would be decorated with gold wire inlay in an isometric pattern, to echo the ProtoPaper.
I then put these ideas together into design boards to submit to the competition - focusing on the graphic elements that i'd taken from cranes into my designs. I use a lot of lino cutting and printmaking in my work as i find it resolves my ideas more clearly.
Unfortunately I didn't win this competition, but the scoring and folding designs and shapes have gone on to feature heavily in my degree show work, and although I'm not making the spoons, it has informed my research more clearly.
PICS was an international collaboration project between The University of Edinburgh, The University of Antwerp, Maastricht School and The University of Düsseldorf. We formed groups of four, with one participant from each school and chose a theme. From that theme we then took photographs of our interpretation of the theme and then swapped these. The brief was to make an object or a piece of jewellery from these new images for an exhibition in Vienna. Our theme was vision.
This was the first picture I chose. I love how the more you look at this piece the more you see – at first glance it’s a headlight, but its such a busy image with so many patterns coming from just the way that light reflects onto the smooth surfaces, I wanted to echo that in what I made
This silver bowl, based on Anneleen De Vree’s photo was the final piece I worked on after having gotten back from West Dean. I further practiced my chasing skills and remade the bowl in silver, oxidising it to show the deeper ripples. I deliberately left a lot of the chasing and raising marks in the piece to further add depth to the reflections given back, like in a car headlight.
with this second image, I like the way your eye immediately travels down the centre of the picture to whatever’s lurking at the end of the tunnel – its both literal and symbolic in so many ways. What stands out also is the pink top – this is the only photo I chose that has colour in it and I wanted to incorporate that somehow in my piece
Myopic vision means that you are shortsighted and struggle to judge depth of vision. I thought that was appropriate as I used this brooch as a chance to pay with focus. The original photo by Leonie Luger was composed in such a way as to focus the eye on the distance, whereas i wanted the viewer to decide the focus. By bringing everything to the same level, you get to choose what to see.
In this final image, I love the linear qualities of these industrial buildings – how everything is very straight, except the shape of the extraction fan with its curving cylindrical walls. It reminds me of a periscope, of someone trying to see round the corner and through the gratings.
I took the industrial shapes shown in Dajana Manou’s photograph and striaghtened them, so you could now see directly into the tunnel. I kept the idea of a periscope and placed mirrored glass at the bottom so the idea was based on ‘being nosey’ that even if you could see round corners, you wouldnt be able to see what was there, instead all you see is your own nose.
Unfortunately I was unable to attend the exhibition itself but there was lots of positive feedback from it and It was a great experiece. I’m pleased with the pieces I made, as i feel like I really pushed myself. Usually I tend to just work in metals so adding more media to my pieces really helped lift them and my skill level.
I was fortunate enough to get a summer work placement in the workshops at the Royal warrant holding Hamilton and Inches. H&I is an incredibly prestigious jewellers and silversmiths, and have been in Edinburgh since 1866. I worked in the silversmiths workshops alongside two apprentices, two journeymen and a master chaser. The experience was incredible and utterly beneficial for me.
Working in a larger workshop meant a lot of batch production which was really enjoyable for me. I spent most of my time making up the standard items that H&I sell. I really enjoyed making multiples as its a very clear way to see your own improvement in a short space of time. These were silver tie pins with the H&I crest on
Another one of my duties was to clean and repair the trophies for the Royal Highland Show. This was so fascinating to me, as the trophies themselves were so beautiful, and each one individual which meant a routine job became anything but - it changed my perspective on what a trophy is and it was inspiring to see what incredible work silversmiths before me had done.
I also made some pieces in gold, which I hadn’t done before. It was a good learning curve, and showed its not actually as scary as I thought it would be. Not many students get the chance to work in gold, purely because of the cost, so it was great to be able to use it and see how it handles.
I also got to work on some exciting projects - like ‘The Game of Kings’ chess set, which was a collaborative project with sculptor Andy Scott. My involvement was minimal, but it was great to see this 1.2kg silver horse be chased, cast and finished expertly before going off to exhibitions and galleries around the world.
Whilst I was there, I worked predominantly with the silversmiths but I also helped out and learnt from the Master Polisher Colin Golder. Colin taught me only the very basics but it was really good to see how properly polishing a piece can bring it to life and add the final touches.
I spent a few weeks with the jewellers too, and helped with the new range they had made and designed to celebrate their 150th birthday. My job was mainly to clean up castings, but having not really worked much with them, it was a valuable experience for me and again helped broaden my knowledge base.
Definitely the highlight of my time there was a visit from HRH Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. It was truly an incredible experience meeting them both, one which I will never forget.
My time at Hamilton and Inches taught me so much and I was asked back for four weeks over Christmas. I would love to work there after graduation, and hopefully one day I might.
You can read more about my time there on their website: https://www.hamiltonandinches.com/blog/scholarship-stories-workshops/
West Dean College is internationally recognized for conservation and creative arts. Underpinning it all is the vision of founder and Surrealist patron Edward James connecting today with a rich heritage of arts, craft and creative possibility. Its an incredible place and I feel privileges that I got to study there briefly on a scholarship.
We were asked to bring with us an idea of some sort of surface texture or pattern to work from. I chose this image from a project I have on the theme of vision, of a chrome headlight and the light reflecting in it. I love all the patterns that are made in it coming purely from the different contours in the metal.
I started with a simple floral pattern, and punched it in using a thin line punch. Above is the piece after I had taken it out of the pitch, which is a mixture of tar, plaster and resin and holds the metal still whilst you manipulate it. It sets hard but has enough flexibility to move with the material.
Once I had done several sample pieces, I quickly blocked out a bowl and set it in pitch. I then added a wave-line design (taken from my source image) and began to chase from the outside. Once the outside was defined, I turned it around and again used doming punches to push the metal out from the inside, to fill out the waves.
This was it directly after doming from the inside. Because I was still learning, the curves weren’t as consistent as I had wanted and the waves were fairly lumpy so I set about continuing to work on it from both sides to even this out, annealing and putting it into the pitch at each stage. This was as far as I got in the three days I was there.
I feel like I have learnt the basics, but like with anything I now need to go away and practice. I would like to remake this bowl in silver partly for practice, and partly so I could use it in another project. I really enjoyed the technique and it is definitely something I would like to take forward into the future.
Staying at West Dean was an amazing experience and Abigail was an incredible tutor - really inspiring and very helpful when it came to sharing tricks of the trade. One thing she said that particularly stuck with me, and rings very true to me is “If you don’t want it so bad that you can taste it, then why are you doing it?”