Contemporary Silver Jug: ARC 4

The ARC series pursues the principal of the ‘vanishing line’ and here I have pushed that idea to an elegant extreme. A tapering, hot forged handle appears to float alongside the body of the jug, adding a wonderful sense of drama to the piece as the point of the handle extends past the top of the jug and out, over the pouring lip.

As with many of my pieces the apparent simplicity of the ARC 4 Jug belies the complexity of the processes involved in its creation.

I begin everything on paper, allowing the simplest of sketches to evolve into a full, technical drawing. This jug began as a tiny sketch on some scrap paper, doodled over breakfast at Goldsmiths Fair one year. Once I was back in the workshop I scaled it up, filled out the details and made small, delicate adjustments to the form.

The body of the jug is spun in two parts with an invisible, TIG welded joint between them. I have inset the base of the jug and fitted it with a heavy edge wire, to provide a structurally strong support, for the handle’s only point of contact with the jug.

Hand forged from a single piece of silver rod, the handle is shaped while the silver is hot and malleable, drawing it out into a long, graceful taper. To form the curve of the handle I again use heat and the early section of this video from the Society of Designer Craftsmen shows the process:

Anchoring one end of the handle in a vice, to keep it immobile, I then selectively heat the section of the handle that I want to bend, progressively working from the thick end to the thin end. I use a steel tube to provide leverage and to prevent the hot silver from sticking to my hand! This way I can control where the handle bends and by how much at any one time – an ideal method to produce a perfect curve. Continuously comparing the handle to the drawing I can judge by eye when I have achieved the perfect curve.

Once it is cleaned up and textured the handle is ready to attach to the body. This is a relatively simple procedure but it requires a lot of careful measuring to ensure that the handle is positioned perfectly, relative to the centre line of the jug. I refer to the original drawings and have a few handy jigs which keep everything in place while I solder.

I then clean the finished jug and further refine it by hand. The end of the handle is cut back to keep it in line with the base and then the whole piece is prepared for several rounds of heating and cooling:

This process builds up layers of fine silver on the surface of the jug, giving the silver a beautifully soft, white appearance. Coupled with the textured finish this white surface is incredibly durable and will not require polishing. Indeed, all of the white silk finished silverware that I produce can simply be washed to keep it clean.

The resulting jug is the purest expression to date of the ‘infinity line’ that I find so compelling.

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