Monday, October 10, 2016

At the Goldsmith's Fair

"The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, more commonly known as the Goldsmiths' Company, is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London and received its first royal charter in 1327." -- from the history of the Goldsmiths' Company.
The Goldsmiths' Company has a magnificent guild hall in central London, which opened in 1835. The building is the third goldsmiths' building to stand here since 1339 when the company purchased the land.  Last week, we attended the annual Goldsmiths' Fair where many professional crafts people display works in gold and silver to be purchased by those at the fair.

Talking to the jewelers at the Goldsmith's Fair at their guild hall in London last week.
Workers in gold and silver who belong to the guild still have a right to place an official "maker's mark" on their works.
The term "goldsmith" has traditionally referred to those who work in either gold or silver, making jewelry, tableware, and other gold and silver objects. Their guild -- the Goldsmiths' Company in London -- traditionally had responsibility for making assays of precious metal objects, maintaining standard measures (the Troy Weight), and making sure that members of the guild were properly qualified and followed correct procedures. Only guild members had the right to produce gold and silver objects during past times in England.

Our friends organized a guided tour of the fair for the four of us, led by a woman of great expertise who has curated various shows at places like the Victoria & Albert museum. She introduced us to many of the participants who explained their creative processes. They use a variety of techniques, both traditional ones and modern high-tech computer capabilities, which we found fascinating. The interest in the potential of computers and computer-aided design particularly impressed me, as the artists who are using computers do not compromise their artistry, but enhance it with technology.

A beautiful traditionally made necklace in gold and coral.
Hamish Dobbie, creator of this silver bowl, uses a 3-D printer to create prototypes that he designs on a computer.
From the 3-D printed object, he makes moulds, which are then used for making a variety of items.
Shown: a silver bowl (with a patina); the 3-D printed object used, the moulds made from the object.
In the front, in a shadow is a similarly created pendant with a different shape (detail below).
A decorative silver object from the above moulds.
Many of the artists described their use of various patinas in their creations.
A pendant made from other moulds made from 3-D printed objects.
A bracelet by a different artist, made with similar techniques.
In the tea room of the historic building are cases with a collection of items made by
members of the Goldsmiths' Company through the ages. This covered cup
was made by Thomas Jenkins around 1670.
As we talked to the silver and gold smiths at the Fair, learning about their varied techniques, I thought about the gold and silver objects I had seen in museums. The next day, at the British Museum, I photographed a few examples that seemed to me to connect with the contemporary artists' work.

Traditional methods of casting, beating, or otherwise forming precious metals date back to very early times.
This is a Byzantine sliver platter from around 300 CE. We saw it in the British Museum last week.
The Londesborough Brooch (8th-9th Century) made from cast gilded silver.
The interlaced designs are Celtic. Also in the British Museum.
Three gilded silver gothic brooches (400-650). British Museum.

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