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.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Graduation is no longer a speck on my radar. May 25th is looming and I find myself spending my time planning cap and gown measurements and looking for new apartments. Senioritis is an understatement when it comes to school work..buuut I'd also like to blame the numerous snow days and a semester start date of February 2nd for the boredom/laziness.

Soo whenever I'm starting a new class or getting a new instructor, I rape and pillage and google the hell out of the professor to A. see what people are saying B. to prep myself for them (get a visual of the hotties) and C. check out their work. Sadly, I won't be able to do this anymore, as I'm graduating. But last night I took it upon myself to look up some of my current professors and see what's good lately. Five minutes into it I realized, again, that jewelry design, and FIT as a whole, was an incredibly great decision of mine. I'm proud of my work and proud of the professors I study under. Needless to say, it was a very inspiring night for me.

FIT is a cheap school (if you're a NY resident holla) but spending thousands of dollars on supplies kind of cancels that out..that's really the only flaw. For nearly two years I have studied with masters of their craft. People educated all over the world, and even some educated at FIT. I love all of my professors, but I'm only going to praise a few at the moment...

  • I enjoy classes with Tony Lent the most. Lots of people are offended or intimdated by him. But I really think they need to get over it and grow the fuck up. Tony was initially educated at Pratt (like so many other people in my circle) then went on to be trained as a goldsmith in Germany. I can't even imagine what a German education is like. In any case, it's hard to find a program that cherishes classical jewelry training and pushes their students to sweat, cry, and bleed through it all to achieve advanced technical skills like FIT does. Tony Lent has taught me soldering, piercing + sawing, diamond jewelry techniques, and currently teaches die forming. He and I both know that bench work is challenging for me, but I like to think he sees my effort. And I enjoy having him as a resource and role model. He does what he wants, he does it beautifull, and shits all over your 'fine jewelry.'

  • Gennady is a professor that taught me wax carving and costume jewelry (white metal model making). He was trained in Russia and he, like Tony, makes things that make my brain hurt trying to figure out how human hands made it...Besides teaching at FIT, Gennady works for Zadora Timepieces.

Zadora Coral Snakes Timepiece. 'Two inter-twining coral snakes executed in 18kt yellow and white palladium gold with pink and white diamond detail with green tsavorite eyes and blue sapphire, white diamond and green tsavorite detail with purple sapphire eyes resting on a 18kt yellow gold guilloche top. 18kt yellow gold case.' I've seen one of Zadora's timepieces in person. Words cannot describe. Absolutely amazing craftsmanship and major bling. The texture on the wristband is very unusual. If I'm remembering correctly, Gennady said that they use sting ray skin.
  • William Manfredi is a master silversmith. Up until a year ago he owned his own business in Manhattan restoring. During that time he began teaching at FIT, and has been there for decades. He learned his craft and worked in Italy during the 70's when, as he says, there were thousands of people like him. Apprenticing, working, refining their craft as silversmiths. Sadly, today you can count the remaining silversmiths on one hand. During his career, Manfredi has made pieces for the likes of Cartier and Tiffany's. It is a privilege to learn silversmithing with Manfredi; a true master of his craft and one of the kindest, most encouraging instructors I have ever encountered. Unfortunately, I can no longer post examples of his work, as his website is down and google images are way to small to give him, and his work, justice.
Thank goodness for good professors!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Welcome Back, Kotter

Almost a year's hiatus...

Things I'm digging these days...besides "Welcome Back, Kotter" episodes...
  • gorillaz, lady gaga, the talking heads, bjork, j. dilla, jack white, the magnetic fields, charlotte gainsbourg and van halen (duh)
  • cheetos
  • year one, angry beavers (spoot), rocko's modern life, among other silly things
  • still hating cats, snow, several inhabitants of my neighborhood..fucking Mark's mother and Mark's stereo to name a few..
  • versani inlay rings
  • wishing I could own a Balenciaga scarf coat
  • me through my days..
  • neglecting my online art history class..any professor who flaunts their "avatar" from Second Life falls a few spots down on my 'respect' ladder and a few spots up on the the 'you're fucking weird ladder
  • being in love with a professor...le siiigh...(n.b. not prof avatar)
  • wishing I could wear something like this
  • taking advantage of The Museum at FIT's website/database
  • tryna woo someone for the second time in our relationship
  • dollar beer nights at Rope. Monday is now Friday.
  • reading sociology books..then finding out how ridiculously riddled they are with feminism...not hating..just sayin
  • cheeses
  • bothering kate baldwin
  • eating lots of bad things and blaming it on pms 3 and 1/2 weeks out of the month
  • trying to get a damn job!!! someone send the waaambulance!!