Charleston Silver Lecture by Brandy Culp and Kaminer Haislip
Brandy Culp, the Richard Koopman Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum, and I have recently given several lecture presentations on Charleston silver, so I was inspired to write a blog post discussing our unique collaboration. We have presented to private organizations and groups and last week we gave a lecture on Charleston silver for the American College of the Building Arts. The pictures in this post are from that event.
When Brandy and I collaborate on a Charleston silver lecture, we begin with her discussing colonial Charleston history and silversmithing. She is an expert in the decorative arts field and in particular metalwork. Brandy earned her Master of Arts degree with an emphasis in American decorative arts from the Bard Graduate Center. There she completed her thesis on the 18th century Charleston silversmith Alexander Petrie and the Carolina silver trade. The topic of metalwork remains one of her greatest interests, and she is currently working on a permanent exhibition of the Wadsworth’s English and American silver collections.
Brandy ties my contemporary silversmithing brilliantly to historic forms and processes. I discuss in detail how I design and create my original, silver designs and use tools and in progress silver items to illustrate the relationship between my silversmithing techniques and past silversmith practices. Additionally, I bring a selection of finished silver hollowware, flatware, and jewelry for attendees to see in person during the lecture and up close after our slide presentation is over.
We always save time for a question and answer session at the end of our lecture and spend time with guests after the event to take additional questions and socialize.
Brandy and I both are incredibly passionate about silver and very much enjoy sharing our silver knowledge. The combination of her historic metalwork expertise and my contemporary silver designs has been extremely well received each time we have done a presentation. If you are interested in having us speak to your group, organization, or college, then please email me at email@example.com. I can provide details, fees, and press material.
Thank you for your interest in silver!
Charleston Silversmithing Lecture at American College of the Building Arts
Thursday, March 7 at 6pm
Brandy S. Culp, Richard Koopman Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum, and I will give a lecture presentation titled Charleston Silversmithing, Traditions from Past to Present at the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, SC about colonial Charleston silversmithing and how my contemporary silversmithing relates to it.
It is open to the public, but seating is limited and reservations can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no admissions fee for attending the lecture, however you may reserve a seat ahead of time by making a donation of any size that is meaningful to you. Included with your reservation is an invitation to meet the speakers at a private reception following the presentation. Without a reservation, seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
In the eighteenth century, Charleston’s favorable economic circumstances spurred a healthy luxury goods market, especially the precious metal trades. Through the centuries, the tradition of creating and collecting metalwork has continued in the Carolina Lowcountry. Brandy S. Culp, Richard Koopman Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum, will explore how the Holy City’s talented silversmiths and jewelers reflected the global exchange of ideas, people, and goods in early America. Ms. Culp will be joined by Kaminer Haislip, a nationally renowned and formally-trained silversmith practicing in Charleston. Together they will discuss how many of the tools and techniques employed by silversmiths and jewelers have changed very little over the centuries. From the combined perspective of a design historian and practicing silversmith, Ms. Culp and Ms. Haislip will present a splendid array of metalwork highlighting examples of Lowcountry silver—past and present—found both locally and in collections outside of the South, including notable objects in the Wadsworth’s holdings.
Brandy S. Culp is the Richard Koopman Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum, America’s oldest continually-operating public art museum and stewards of a collection of over 50,000 artifacts spanning 5,000 years. There she has most recently curated the exhibitions, Simply Splendid: Rethinking American Design, Bed Furnishings in Early America, and Design in the American Home, 1650 to 1850. Prior to joining the Wadsworth, Culp served as Curator of Historic Charleston Foundation, leading projects for the conservation and interpretation of the Foundation’s collection of fine and decorative arts. Before that, Ms. Culp served as the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in the Department of American Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. She has also held positions at the Bard Graduate Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Culp graduated summa cum laude from Hollins University and received her Master of Arts degree with an emphasis in American decorative arts from the Bard Graduate Center. There she completed her thesis on the 18th century Charleston silversmith Alexander Petrie and the Carolina silver trade. The topic of metalwork remains one of her greatest interests, and she is currently working on a permanent exhibition of the Wadsworth’s English and American silver collections.
A native of Aiken, South Carolina, Kaminer Haislip grew up in her family’s hardware store. Amidst the story-telling locals and tools for sale, she was inspired at a young age to create three-dimensional objects ranging from sculpture to jewelry. Haislip received both a BFA in jewelry and metals and an MFA in silversmithing, design, and sculpture from Winthrop University, where she studied under Alfred Ward, an internationally acclaimed English silversmith. After graduating in 2005, she moved to Charleston and established her studio. Nationally recognized for her craftsmanship, Haislip was most recently featured in the Museum of the City of New York’s exhibition Silver: Then and Now. Her handcrafted metalwork has been shown internationally and highlighted by numerous media outlets, including Antiques and Fine Art, Metalsmith, The Magazine Antiques, Traditional Home, Elle Décor, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Charleston Magazine, and Handcrafted America. Haislip has also collaborated with Reese Witherspoon’s southern lifestyle company, Draper James, to create exclusive objects that reflect the South’s rich metalworking history.
Inspired by Charleston’s extensive silversmithing tradition, Haislip is dedicated to carrying forth that legacy. Hand-forging her flatware, hollowware, and jewelry, she uses the very tools and techniques employed by silversmiths for centuries, yet her metalwork reflects her unique approach to contemporary design.
American College of the Building Arts
649 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29403
Charleston Gallery Representation
I am extremely excited to announce Helena Fox Fine Art is now representing my handcrafted silver designs in their stunning downtown Charleston art gallery! They are now carrying on an on going basis a curated selection of my silver hollowware, flatware, home objects, and jewelry. Some items, such as the silver coffeepot shown above, will be sold exclusively through them. Noted on my website Shop are those items, so you must get in contact with them or visit their gorgeous art gallery in order to purchase them.
They are formally welcoming me on Friday, March 1 from 5-8pm during the Charleston Gallery Association artwalk. During that event and on Saturday, March 2 from 11am-4pm, a wider selection of my silver home objects and jewelry will be shown. I hope to see you at one of those events!
Helena Fox Fine Art
106-A Church Street
Charleston, SC 29401
Drawing as a Starting Point
I am frequently asked how I come up with my ideas and develop them into silver artworks, so this Blog post discusses how I use drawing as a starting point for my design process. When an idea inspires me to create a new hollowware piece or jewelry series, I begin designing by loosely sketching in my sketchbook. As the form or shape of a piece begins to take shape, I refine the rendering with correct proportions and details.
Once I have chosen the final form from the various refined renderings, I draw the object or jewelry piece to scale of the actual item on Canson paper using graphite pencils and Prisma Color Pencils (media of all three drawings included in this post). The design continues to evolve in the to scale state with decisions made about handle size, spout curve, and overall proportions of the object. It is much easier, faster, and more economical to change the design on paper than it is in silver!
My drawings also assist me in the pricing of an object or jewelry piece, because they tell me the exact size of silver sheet or wire to purchase.
I follow the same path when beginning a client’s custom commission design. Based on conversations I have with a client on their vision or concept for a custom object or jewelry piece, I use those specifics to begin designing a unique, one of a kind piece especially for them. The collaboration between client and artist is a process I very much enjoy! A new artwork I would not have thought of on my own emerges from the collaboration and it challenges me to think outside of my regular work zone.
To view examples of commission drawings and finished pieces I have custom designed, visit the Commission page on this website. To commission me to create a one of a kind design, email me directly at email@example.com.
To learn more about my process from paper to silver, visit the Handcrafted Design page on this website. Also stay tuned for more Blog posts about my handcrafted process. Thank you for your interest in my artwork!
Processional Torch Commission
Kaminer Haislip designed and created this processional torch commission in collaboration with Michael James Moran and Celia Gibson of Moran Woodworked Furniture. A group of St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church patrons contacted Kaminer to commission these custom processional torches in memory of Bishop Daly Pope Garnett. Bishop was a dear friend to Kaminer and her brother Wylie’s lifelong best friend, so this project meant a lot and she was committed to making it exceptional. When the wood components were considered during the early design stages, Kaminer knew who to call to collaborate with on that crucial element. She had collaborated with Michael and Celia on numerous occasions before and knew they had an eye and mind for the aesthetic and technical challenges that lay ahead on this complex project.
The design for the custom processional torches began with looking at the church’s existing collection of ceremonial objects and torches, so the new, handcrafted torches would be unified in the environment. Measurements were taken of existing torches and Kaminer, Micheal, and Celia considered the ergonomics when finalizing the dimensions, since these torches were intended for the youth church members to carry. The silver and brass candleholder was inspired by a previous silver candlestick Kaminer had created, but reimagined with a smooth, round dish referencing angel wings. Due to the slight tilt in each silver dish, when the two are placed together (see first image above) they symbolize angel wings soaring high.
The brass cylinder of the candleholder was beautifully hand engraved by the talented Kristina McClure, who does all of Kaminer’s hand engraving. The inscription credits Bishop’s mother’s afternoon tea group as “The Teabags” for their generous donation of the processional torches to St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church.
The black walnut too has special meaning and contributed immensely to this incredibly well thought out and meaningful project. Michael and Celia wrote:
“These pieces of Black Walnut came from one specific tree blown down by a storm on a friend’s cattle farm in Central Kentucky, close to where Michael grew up. We worked closely with Jim (the farmer) and his wife Deb to save as much of this tree and a handful of others trees befallen by similar circumstances. We spent seven days at the farm cutting/moving/milling trees into logs and then into boards. Next, we stacked all of the wood to dry for a year in a nearby barn then transferred to a kiln to finish drying. Each step of this long process we put our hands on every board, with care and concern for its well being and future. To date we’ve built many pieces from these trees that have found themselves all over the US, in homes, places of work, and now a place of worship.”
The base for each torch was created in brass, silver, and black walnut to harmonize with the torch design through the repetition of material and form. The hammering, raising, and forming of the heavy 10″ diameter brass dome was a physical and technical challenge for Kaminer, because brass is much harder than silver and not conducive to raising. She applied her traditional silversmithing training to it and was able to make not one, but two that are identical in shape and size. Her arms were ringing for days after the final planishing!
The numerous right angles in all components of the torches was also a very difficult technical challenge. Each part when put together has to fit and stand up at a perfect right angle and they had to be the exact same height for the dishes to match up, so attention to detail was of the upmost importance. The candleholder, stem, and base components all come apart for easy cleaning, polishing, and future repair if needed. Kaminer, Michael, and Celia thought through carefully how all the elements would work together not only aesthetically, but also technically.
The end result is not only stunning visually, but includes symbolic significance to commemorate and celebrate the life of an incredible individual, Bishop Daly Pope Garnett, in a church he loved dearly.