There’s no denying that silversmithing is noisy! Luckily our workshop shares a building with over 70 other makers, all banging, whirring, tapping and tinkering away, so we don’t have too many complaints from our neighbours…
Some silversmithing processes are noisier than others, some involve machinery and others make use of relatively low technology. We’ve compiled a selection of the main offenders for your listening pleasure!
(Don’t forget to turn on the volume on your device)
The sound of the steel hammerhead striking the hot silver alters with each hammer blow as the metal cools and is an important indicator as to when the silver is too cool to be worked further and the piece must be returned to the hearth for re-heating. The footage below shows the forging of one of two large contemporary candlesticks for a client in New York.
A valuable tool for achieving deep, crisp spoon bowls, the drop hammer comprises a 4m tall frame and a 30 kilo hammerhead, operated manually using a wheel and a chord. The hammerhead is matched to a ‘female tool’, which is formed by pressing the hammerhead into molten pewter.
We love our hammers and like to keep them well looked-after. Every so often it’s necessary to redefine the profile of the striking face of a hammerhead and make sure that it’s pristine to ensure a high-quality finish when it comes into contact with the silver. The warmer months of the year are the ideal time for grinding them, as we can do it outside on the workshop balcony!
Once a piece has been forged and the hammer marks have been smoothed away with a file, it’s time to switch on the polishing spindle. The hum of the spindle itself and the whine of the silver against the canvas mop quickly become background noise while you’re working but when the motor is switched off, your ears are left buzzing.
Finding Your Rhythm
If you’re the sort of person who needs peace and quiet while you’re working then a silversmithing workshop is clearly not the environment for you, but we’re a noisy bunch and the noise is simply part of our working life. The key is to find your own rhythm…
If you’d like to know more about silversmithing tools and processes, why not visit the ‘Form‘ exhibition in the foyer of the Goldsmiths’ Centre, where you can see photography of our workshop, along with one of Brett’s own hammers. Our sterling silver Camping Set is also on display as part of the same exhibition, so if you’re feeling intrepid, make the journey over to Clerkenwell to take a look! Entry is free.
We will also be exhibiting at the Craft & Design Fair at Henley on Thames this weekend, 24th – 26th June. Come by the Silver Tent – we’d love to see you there!