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Custom Christmas Ornaments

jack & ginger christmas ornamentJack & Ginger Etched Silver Christmas Ornament

Custom Christmas Ornaments

Custom Christmas ornaments are a wonderful heirloom gift that will be cherished and enjoyed for many holidays to come. Not only is a sterling silver Christmas ornament a lasting, quality present, but it is an extremely memorable one. These beauties sparkle and shine with merriment on the Christmas tree and embody the holiday spirit.

The process of etching a textured design into sterling silver has been an integral aspect of my artwork over the years and one fun application of the technique has been for custom Christmas ornament designs. I get so many inquiries about the process and options, so I decided to highlight a couple of past designs and describe the handcrafted technique.

 

silver etching drawingHand painting and drawing the design onto the silver

First, I hand draw the design in my sketchbook and use it for reference to draw onto the silver shape, which I hand cut from sheet silver. The next step is to paint a black tar like substance called resist over the areas I want to remain smooth. The resist protects the silver surface from the acid etching chemical. The resist can be messy, so I refine the details and lines with a steel pencil as shown in the image above. Once the design is completed, it is submerged in the acid, which eats into the silver surface and creates texture in the exposed silver areas.

jack & ginger silver christmas ornament

Jack & Ginger Etched Silver Christmas Ornament

After the silver is polished to a high shine, the textured design and lines contrast beautifully with the smooth surface. The amount of detail and refinement that can be achieved with the process is quite significant!

 

old exchange building

Old Exchange Building Etched Silver Christmas Ornament

I have been commissioned to create a wide variety of etched Christmas ornaments and the possibilities are endless for design options. Some past projects include buildings, houses, a lighthouse, and even a private plane! Shown above is the historic Old Exchange Building in downtown Charleston, which was very detailed with the number of straight lines and architectural embellishments. To view more of my original Christmas ornament designs, view the Christmas Ornaments page in my website Portfolio Archive.

I welcome you to get in touch with your own idea for a custom Christmas ornament! I so enjoy those projects and it is always exciting to see what new, creative concept someone will bring to me. Custom commission information can be found on my website Commission Work page and details on how to commission your own design is posted on the Commission Policy page.

The Jack & Ginger ornament I created last year for a very special person inspired my 2020 Christmas ornaments…..coming soon!!

Handcrafted Silver Spoons

Kaminer Haislip’s silver Flight of Fancy Serving Spoon

Handcrafted Silver Spoons

Serving up silver spoons for this Blog post! Since silversmithing has become an obscure craft, I have decided to write a series of posts that feature various traditional silversmithing processes I use to create my silver designs. As often as I am asked how I make my pieces, I have come to realize how little most people know about silversmithing. I took my first jewelry and silversmithing course over twenty years ago, so it has become extremely normal to me since I have done it practically every day since then!

The majority of the time, people only see my finished works and not the process, so they have no idea the amount of time, labor and skill that goes into making them. Through sharing some of my silversmithing techniques, I hope to give some insight into what it takes to craft my functional works of art.

silversmithing hammers jewelry hammers silversmith workshop jewelry studio
A selection of Kaminer Haislip’s silversmithing and jewelry hammers.

My journey to becoming a silversmith began long before my first college course and you can read about my background in detail on a former Blog post titled “How did you get into silversmithing?”. During my BFA studies at Winthrop University under Alfred Ward, an internationally acclaimed English silversmith, the first functional object I made was a silver spoon with laminated ebony handle. The spoon form has much significance to my functional work and I have continued to explore it since that first creation so many years ago. To view a selection of spoons I have made over the course of my career and the aforementioned first spoon visit my website Portfolio Spoons page.

silversmithing tools silversmith stakes metalsmithing workshop steel stake
Several of Kaminer’s steel silversmithing stakes

As covered in my previous Blog post on my forged silver cheese knife, all of my objects begin as sterling silver sheet and wire. For hollowing and forming silver sheet into functional objects, I hammer it over steel stakes that are the precise curve I need for an item, such as a silver spoon. The stake is held in a sturdy steel vise as shown below.

spoon stake silver spoon silversmithing technique handcrafted silver spoon
Spoon stake in vise

I use a rawhide mallet to form the spoon bowl, because it does not stretch the silver or leave marks in the surface.

traditional silversmithing technique handcrafting a silver spoon silversmith studio
Silver spoon bowl being formed over steel stake
sterling silver spoon charleston rice spoon serving spoon

Once the spoon bowl shape is formed, I planish it with a steel hammer to set the form precisely and work harden the metal, so it has strength when used to serve food.

Kaminer Haislip Charleston silversmith contemporary silver functional art
Silversmith Kaminer Haislip planishing the silver spoon bowl.

With the planishing technique I use small, light overlapping blows as shown up close below.

silver spoon bowl planish silversmith hammer silversmithing technique
Overlapping planishing hammer marks on the silver surface

The planishing process is one of my favorite silversmithing techniques! It requires focus, rhythm, and precision to hammer around and around consistently over the entire surface. I really enjoy planishing my silver spoons, but a coffeepot or teapot is an extensive challenge that I so revel in!

The two spoons highlighted in this Blog post are from my Flight of Fancy Series in which the handle design was inspired by the shape of a bird’s wing. The serving spoon (first image) has a traditional serving spoon length handle, but the Charleston Rice Spoon has a longer handle. The silver Charleston Rice Spoon, derived from the English Stuffing Spoon, historically had a long handle. During the 18th and 19th centuries rice was an immensely important crop to Charleston’s economy and the rice spoon was created due to it. My contemporary design is based on the historic form and gives a nod to tradition while still looking forward.

Both spoon styles are very popular wedding gifts, so be sure to check them out in my website Shop Home category. A handcrafted silver spoon certainly serves a purpose when stylishly entertaining!

Drawing as a Starting Point

silver purple heart teapot drawing kaminer haislip design
Drawing by Kaminer Haislip for her silver and purple heart teapot Corresponding to an echo as it travels (teapot II)
silver purple heart teapot silversmith Kaminer Haislip
Silver and purple heart teapot Corresponding to an echo as it travels (teapot II) made by Kaminer Haislip

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.

silver pitcher drawing artist rendering product design
Drawing by Kaminer Haislip of her silver pitcher
Corresponding to an echo as it travels (pitcher II)
silver pitcher functional art contemporary silver
Silver pitcher Corresponding to an echo as it travels (pitcher II)
created by Kaminer Haislip

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.

silver pitcher and cup drawing beaker tumbler designer silversmith
Sounding Series pitcher and beaker design drawing by Kaminer Haislip
Silver pitcher contemporary silver designer silversmith functional art tabletop design
Silver Sounding Series Pitcher handcrafted by Kaminer Haislip

silver beaker cup tumbler tabletop design product design
Silver Sounding Series Beaker handcrafted by Kaminer Haislip

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 kaminer@kaminerhaislip.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!