Sunday, March 7, 2010

HOW TO MAKE A TROPHY or A Silversmithing project

Silversmithing (and goldsmithing) is the art of forming sheet metal into hollowware, flatware, jewelry etc.
Hollowware: dishes, bowls, vases, urns, cups, teapots etc.
Flatware: forks, spoons, knives.
Other things produced by a silversmith include weaponry, like swords or sword handles, armor, as well as various decorations for the table, walls, yards, yadda yadda yadda.
Traditionally, a silversmith works directly in silver sheet or bar-stock. But for learning purposes, a novice silversmith can work in copper or brass as it is cheaper. Sometimes, a silversmith may want to work in copper, despite their higher level of skill, so that the copper piece can be a prototype or a master model for casting purposes.
The difference between a silversmith and a blacksmith, is that a blacksmith forges iron and steel. Iron is a "black metal" due to the black layer of oxides that forms during heating. Both types of smithing have been in practice for thousands of years, and not much has changed in the techniques of production despite the technology of today.

This semester, I will be making a prototype for a trophy. Ideally, I want to have it engraved with something that strokes my ego when I am finished.
Soooo the first few steps are as follows:

1. Sketch out an idea. Tighten up the design,and make sure to be technical about everything..maybe do some mechanical drafting, despite how absolutely terrible mechanical drafting is...

2. Now comes the time to decide which piece to start with first. The best route is to begin with the cup, as it is the main component. The handles will be either carved out of bar-stock or wax and cast later. The base will be last, to ensure that the cup will be balanced and proportionate once both handles are soldered on.
3. Supplies include 20 gauge copper. Copper is a soft metal, and easy to work with. Compared to brass, copper will not need to be annealed as much. By the by, annealing is used to enhance ductility. To anneal metals like copper and silver, heat the material until it is glowing then quench in water. During silversmithing (and various other procedures) metal becomes 'work hardened' and you must heat the piece to above its re-crystallization temperature.
Other supplies include things all jewelers should have, like a saw frame, various saw blades (I'm partial to 4/0's and 6/0's), a multitude of files that range from coarse to fine, sand papers ranging from fine to coarse, dividers, rulers, a caliper, a scribe....Luckily, I'm in school, where the studio has a plethora of hammers and stakes.
4. The cup piece of the trophy will be formed with a technique called 'raising.' In particular, synclastic raising, in which the curves of the cup will be forged at right angles and move in the same direction. The piece will be formed on a stake will repeated passes of hammering and annealing.
5. To prepare for raising, you must prep your metal by drawing out a pattern. This is a simple the pattern will consist of a small circle (the base of the cup) inside of a large circle. The small circle will be placed on a stake and I will hammer the metal outside of it, thus 'raising' the metal into a cup shape around the base.
6. To figure out how big the circles need to be, go to the technical drawing and find the dimensions. The formula for the main circle that will be raised will be height + diameter + 1 inch. I like to give myself a little room for error, so I added 2 inches instead of just one. The inner circle is the length of the base of the cup.
7. Draw the circles directly onto 20g copper sheet with a pencil, sharpie, or a scribe/dividers. Dividers are nice because they work like a bow compass.

8. Saw out the large circle from the sheet metal, then file the edges.
9. Anneal the piece. This puppy is ready to be beat the f up. Next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment