Silver smithing class or: how I made my first stake

I’m doing a silver smithing course on Monday nights taught my amazing and supremely talented friend Mary Hackett who I studied my masters with.

Mary’s Blog

This class has managed to be both a huge challenge and a joy; it’s amazing how after a long and often tiring day at work hitting bits of copper makes me feel so much more in control and balanced.

In the class we are learning raising. The basic process of raising involves repeatedly annealing and then forming the sheet metal over a series of stakes by hammering.

Primarily we have been working on making small copper bowls and what really surprises me is even though each student was given the same size copper disc to work with our work is in the process of being so very different.

Here is a family picture of our vessels and spoons in progress

 silver smithing class

and here is my piece, I am trying to form it into the shape of a Kina ( a species of sea urchin common in New Zealand) so very round, chubby with an overhanging lip at the top, this is proving very difficult, here is a progress shot


The problem is I couldn’t find a stake that was the shape I was after and then I would be stuck in a loop of making a dent then trying to get it out then denting it and so on.

Being as Mary and I are practical sorts who also are very involved with Blacksmith Doris, we decided to have a stake making day, we drew out the shape I was after and I was able to forge a bit of steel into the required shape, as it was a curl I welded a bit more steel onto the back to steady it and began the long process of grinding it down to be perfectly smooth.
Mary made a couple of stakes to fit the work of the other students but by this stage we were too proud of our success and were busy drinking cups of tea rather than taking photos.

Here is a image of my initial pattern shapes and the sketch on metal I had so I could match the hot steel against the pattern as I was bending it.


And here is an image of the stake after it had been polished to within an inch of its life in class, behind it is the bowl Im making that is now much easier to work on.