Kaminer Haislip spent seven years studying under Alfred Ward, an internationally acclaimed British silversmith, for her BFA in Jewelry and Metals and MFA in Silversmithing and Design. During her concentrated course of study, she immersed herself in learning traditional silversmithing techniques that have been utilized for centuries. All of her work is created by hand from start to finish.
Kaminer begins her design process with drawing in her sketchbook and then does refined, finished drawings to scale of the actual object on large drawing paper. For large hollowware objects, she makes plasticine models to see the form three-dimensionally and make adjustments. Additionally, she makes paper models for all of her hollowware objects to figure out the template. She then traces the template onto sheet metal that is pierced out with a jeweler’s saw. For production objects, such as Christmas ornaments, and jewelry, such as earrings, she makes templates, so each shape cut out is the same.
Kaminer uses a wide variety of traditional silversmithing tools to create her designs that includes hammers, cast iron stakes for forming and raising, an acetylene tank for soldering, polishing lathes for finishing, and a diverse selection of hand tools. Over the years she has purchased many standard silversmithing stakes, such as spoon stakes and bowl stakes, but she also has made custom stakes herself. Occasionally custom designs require a unique curve or shape!
The high polish, mirror finish on Kaminer’s work is very time consuming, messy, and labor intensive. For example, a vase begins as a sheet of silver that is pierced, formed, soldered on the seam, hammered by planishing to set the shape precisely, and then the base soldered on. The seam of the body and the seam of the base are filed by hand to blend in flush with the metal, hence the appearance that it is all one piece. To remove the hammer marks, the entire surface of the vase is filed and then sanded with different grades of sandpaper until perfectly smooth. To achieve the high shine, mirror finish the vase is then buffed on the polishing machine with various compounds that cut the surface and create the slick shine. The polishing process is extremely messy and physically demanding, but it creates a beautiful surface that is integral to Kaminer’s work!
All of Kaminer’s original designs are fabricated or raised from silver or copper sheet. All of her silver products are solid sterling silver and she does NOT plate her pieces. She also works in wire that comes in a variety of thicknesses and shapes, such as round or square. The wire is woven by hand in long lengths such as in the Nest Bowls or forged by hammering into unique shapes such as with the Torc Bracelets. Additionally, Kaminer works in white gold and yellow gold, but mainly for custom commission pieces.
Each object or jewelry item is made individually by hand and is NOT cast from molds in multiples of the same exact item. Even though she uses templates to replicate her production items, each piece is unique due to the handcrafted processes of cutting out the shape, forming, soldering, and finishing. All of the traditional silversmithing techniques she employs requires a highly refined skill set and intense labor. Fine craftsmanship and attention to detail is of the upmost importance!
Kaminer marks all of her pieces with her KH maker’s mark and the metal purity stamp, such as Sterling or 14K.