Saturday, April 01, 2006

Inside of Old Sheffield Plate, is the old pitch, the metal rod, and alot of lead solder.
A steel plate covers the bottom, this is removed by heating carefully and removing lead solder. It usually pops out when the heat is just hot enough for the pitch to almost explode and the lead melts. This is a dirty job, so you want strong venting.
I am assuming when these were made the Smiths did not know that the contact of Steel and Copper are a corrosive combination. All of the old candelabra the I have taken apart are usually based with steel, some are wood. But all Old Sheffield Plate were with steel.
When I repack, I use copper to make the base not steel. These were particularly corroded. The base steel was corroded through and the copper in the thinest parts were corroded through. As you can see I had to make a mold of what remained in the rim around base part and cast new parts. These silver pieces were fabricated to make a new round circle and all the parts put back together.
Pitch that was used for packing sometimes is more explosive than others. A full mask is used for unpacking and clothes you do not care about. This includes knife handles as well.
For those of you who do not know what OSP is, it is a layering of copper and silver that was fused together in ovens and then rolled out very thin to make the sheet metal that was used to make, all of the old antique silver called Old Sheffield Plate. It has a thicker amount of silver on the surface of the copper than a piece that has been plated.
It is a great illusion.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

This was a puzzle. Why would The Kalo Shop allow this out of the shop when it is so very crooked?
Must have made it past the keen eyes of the Master Smith.
Then over time someone tried to straighten it by pushing the base and in doing so pushed the center of the bowl up.
As you can see the ring under the engraving. I use a mushroom stake with a thin layer of plastic sheeting to push out by hand the ring. (This is something you never want to hammer out, it only makes the ring line stronger and you will lose the engraving)There is no way of getting the line of the base out when there is engraving. When there is no engraving you are saving and the metal is thick enough you can burnish out the line.
To find the old solder joint, it is easy to take a reducing flame and play it over the base, the line of solder will show itself and you can easily see the joint. Cut along the old joint. Be sure and make matching marks before you cut. Otherwise you will lose the placement of bowl and base.
This is a delicate operation, because if you remove too much metal by your filing you will run past the line of the design. Then the stem will not meet and you will end up thinning the walls to make meet. So go slowly, matching and adjusting very slowly.
The re-soldering is not the hard part. Once soldered you have lost the color at that point, because you will have used an easy silver solder. So the color of the bowl and base are different. This takes much hand finishing to match the colors of the old and newly soldered parts.
I go over the new skin with liver of sulphur and then hand rub with one of the old sunshine clothes until it matches bowl. This can take longer than all above.
There is one huge no no, on all antique silver and that is putting them on a wheel. Why, because the color is very important to the collector. I will go further into this another time.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Many years ago I designed this letter opener during the beginning of spring.
Here is what I saw and how I came to the design.
This became a limited edition that sells at Japanesque in S.F.
I will be making the last of this edition this year.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

This week has been interesting. It seems work comes in waves. Right now I am inundated with work.
Old Sheffied Plate Candelabra to restore. And a Pitcher that was presented to a Captain of a Ship that went down at the Cape.
The whole story will be published soon. The Pitcher was found in Florida. I will take a picture for the blog.
And a bunch more stuff to clean and restore.
I am being taken from my own Silver work. I contemplated today. The question, is it better to restore and have the time for my own creative work? or is it better to make a line and then have time for the creative work?
Who knows. I have chosen the first and whether it is better to mass produce or do something else to buy time for Art.
I think, it depends upon how or if it takes away the creative passion. If it does, then it does not work.
This is the age old question.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The beginning of the week, with all the broken pieces. I gave the candelabra a strengthening bar inside.
It broke at the weakest point. So made strong with a large brass rod inside.
Removed all of the old lead solder and soldered with stay-brite.
Stay-brite has become my favorite for these old silver plated lead and copper internal parts.
I prefer it to any tin solder that my contemporaries use.
I do not use the flux that comes with it. I found it to be too corrosive and too acid. If you do not get all of their flux off it makes the piece corrode in time. I use a paste flux that is easy to clean. Either with soap and water or brasso when you polish.
Yes, brasso. I often use brasso to polish silver. You cannot leave it on for long, but rub on and then rub off.
This is a trick I learned from a retired restoration expert.
Ok, now all of the secrets are coming out.
Do not forget to wear gloves and be careful when working with the old lead parts.
I clean up after each job, vacuum, wash area, etc. Most of all , do not mix tools with gold and lead, or silver and lead.
Files especially. Keep separate files for each metal, if possible work in separate areas.
I use different soldering blocks for each different metal.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Farmers market on this Saturday in Berkley.
The best bread, Morell's bread, my favorite is the sesame loaves. The baker uses a brick oven and all organic ingredients. Completely Handcrafted. Which is rare today. You can taste the special care put into the bread.

Spring has started in Emeryville near the tracks.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sea meets sky.
38 inches by 80 inches
Hung in the studio.

Cleaned up the studio.
Could not seem to get anything of substance done today.
But did paint. And filed some on the base of the new silver sculpture.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

In Sonoma visiting with Janine and her dogs.
Viewed the new house plans for the remodel of "space, flow, light."
I showed my new silver sculpture which we tried to name.
So far not successful at naming.

Lunch at Della Santina on the Square. Janine tried the rabbit for the first time.
I was not as adventurous.

The sky returning home was incredible.
Grey lights and shadows.
Link to Janines Website

Janine Canan is a Poet and Writer

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

This morning light in the studio played across one of my painting.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Today was an adventure selling in the antique world.
Worked at
selling today.
Met some interesting people from all over the map who were visiting SF Ca.
Sold an Egg Set to a couple from Boston.
Now what is an Sterling Silver Egg Set?
It is four cups for soft boiled eggs with four spoons and a small bowl for who knows..
The whole thing has structured silver design that all of the parts fit into and you then can carry like a little basket with a handle.
The Set was made in 1800's by Henry Green an English Silversmith.
You could tell he put care into his work. Beautifully crafted and designed.
The cup parts and spoon bowls were all gilded gold.
My second introduction to selling antiques was fun.
Except I could not get their ancient credit card machine to work.
They have one of those old plastic press and slide versions.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Today was a day off in the Napa Valley.
Spring is beginning to show.
Lots of Green from the rain.
Visited the hotspring in Calastoga for my Hammering Arm.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The bracelet was made when I had a migraine. I could not hammer hard or loud or my head would explode.
I turned one small light on in the studio and sat focused on each small blow of the hammer.
The marks began to take on a motion and I began to follow the dance of the tap, tap , tap.
Its a sunny day at the studio.
Customer to pick up Coffee Pot and two spoons.
Restored last week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The first post and now more to come.
All about the day in the life of a metalsmith.