Raising has been a nemesis of mine for a while. I think most silversmiths have a love hate relationship with it. We covered it briefly in the first year of the BA degree and for the first few days I hated it and lost the will to live. It broke me. But then something magical happens, a form starts to take shape and suddenly the hate dissipates and this piece of work becomes a cherished child. I liken it to Stockholm Syndrome. After that first taste of raising I decided never again, the pain was too much.
However there was a raising summer school at The Goldsmiths Centre for students between year one and two, with Andy Putland (a very well respected and established silversmith, and a fantastic - and very patient - teacher) so I decided to give it another go. During that week I raised a tumbler so fine that it still impresses me to this day. But during the second and third years raising fell by the wayside again as it didn't fit into my work at that particular time.
This year I was invited to attend a raising course, again at the Goldsmiths Centre with Andy Putland, but also with Tony Bedford, another very well respected and fantastically skilled silversmith. Having wanted to get back into raising I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to really hone my skills while in the presence of such great silversmiths. This made up for having to travel to London once a week for 5 weeks, including some very early starts to get there on time (the joy of living in Norfolk).
I knew I wanted to make a whiskey tumbler, and I knew the exact shape I wanted to make. I discussed this with the pair and they suggested I use a 2mm fine silver (which is really bloody thick for a tumbler) which we could peen the sides of (thin out) to leave the base and rim nice and thick, which meant the tumbler would gently rock and always right itself. I struck a deal with pa to help with the cost of the silver (thanks pa) and here is the progression of the tumbler.
The photographs above show the stages from peening (thinning out the sides) to blocking, which is using mallets to being to form the shape of a bowl, in preparation of the raising stage.
These 8 photographs show stages of raising, which is where you work in concentric circles, inside out, with a raising hammer on a raising stage, gradually bringing the silver into the required shape. Over 20,000 hammer hits to get this far! (Yes, it is brutal on the hands, wrists and arms!)
More rounds of raising, getting there slowly. Its a heavy beast so taking a lot of work! It is said that a raised tumbler takes 30,000 - 40,000 hammer blows to complete it. Hitting metal on metal with metal, now do you understand the pain?!
The final two images show the planishing stage, which is smoothing out the surface, removing the hammer marks. I have a bit more work to do on this but I do not want it completely smooth, for me a handcrafted item should never have a finish which looks machine made. I want to keep that warmth and haptic quality.
That wobble - perfect! I gave it a good hard shove, obviously it won't be rocking that much in general use! It also feels lovely in the hand, its a good heavy weight and your hand envelopes it very comfortably. Of course myself and pa christened it (with brandy rather than whiskey) as soon as it got to this stage. A bit more planishing, rim sorting and gilding inside and it'll be finished! These will be done as soon as I procure the correct stake. Thank you so much to both Tony and Andy, and I am so grateful for their help and advice, and of course the Goldsmith Centre for hosting such a valuable course.
These will be done as soon as I procure the correct stake. I have to admit I had a helping hand from both Tony and Andy, and I am so grateful for their help and advice.