SILVERSMITH

The Silversmith’s artistry requires a well-trained eye for fine detail as well as a surprising level of strength, endurance and patience.

Gold and silver are the silversmith’s raw materials. These metals are melted in a graphite and clay crucible at 2,000 degrees, then poured into a sooted iron mold to create an ingot. Many hammer blows stretch the hot, malleable metal out into circular sheets. The smith forms vessels by hammering the sheets over forms called stakes, raising them up and in through gradual stages, like a flower closing at night. To keep the metal pliant, the smith repeatedly returns the work to the fire, quenching it in a bath of dilute acid called pickle. A single coffeepot, raised and hammered perfectly smooth, will take about 200 hours of labor to go from raw material to a highly polished vessel.

Silversmiths working in Colonial Williamsburg today at the Golden Ball at James Craig Jewelers make all sorts of gold and silver goods such as spoons, tumblers, beakers, fish trowels, bottle labels, coffee- and teapots, trade silver jewelry and gold wedding bands.

For inquiries or purchases please contact Prentis Store at 757-229-1000, Extension 2117 or prentis@cwf.org.

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