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.
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.
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.
I use a rawhide mallet to form the spoon bowl, because it does not stretch the silver or leave marks in the surface.
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.
With the planishing technique I use small, light overlapping blows as shown up close below.
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!