© Winter 1995/96 Newsletter


Visit us on the Web

As of February 1st, SAS has nine pages on the World Wide Web. With the increasing impact of this medium, the decision was made to "ride the wave" with other arts organizations. Visitors of our Web site will have a variety of options. From the welcoming page, you can click on "Silver Care" for information on maintaining your silver, or visit the "Restoration & Conservation" page, where you will find tips on monogram removal and protecting silver from such enemies as dishwasher damage, and corrosion issues. This page will be periodically updated with new tips on in-home silver repair. Those interested in commissioning or ordering a piece of silver can click on "Referral Service," which will list participants and their specialties with our handy 800 number for toll-free access to SAS. Silversmithing professors will find a "Workshop & Design Support Service" which lists specialists in every aspect of the silversmith's art. These specialists offer their services to programs that are lacking certain techniques. Artisans, curators, and collectors can visit the "Exhibition Schedule" page to see where SAS will be showing its Artisan members' work over the next few years. Are you interested in becoming a silversmith? Check out "Silversmithing Programs," which lists 95 American degree-granting schools. Institutions that are italicized indicate programs that are highly rated based on their facilities and instruction. If you are not currently a member of SAS but are considering joining, "Membership Benefits" gives detailed information on the many discounts. Have you always wanted to know the difference between soldering and brazing? Click into "Glossary of Common Silversmithing Terms & Tools" for a dictionary of silver nomenclature. The "Artisan Gallery" displays members' work including those for sale.

The bottom of every page has an index of all pages you can visit, many with images of SAS Artisans at their workbenches. Any silver-related question can be mailed by clicking "Send E-mail to SAS" from any page.

The site will go through continuous change, so check in periodically. If you would like to see additional topics or have questions that may be posted on one of our pages, please let us know. This site has been built to be the world's one-stop resource for anything silver. Our address on the World Wide Web is: http://www.ids.net/~slvrsmth/sashome.htm. If you ever forget it, try typing "silversmith" in your favorite search site; this should bring up SAS, which will allow you to click to our page.

Lunt to Open Design Center

Lunt Silversmiths will be opening a 12,500 square foot retail Design Center on the site of their factory in Greenfield, Massachusetts, in June, 1996. Within the Design Center, which will include a wide array of products for the home, table, and individual, will be an Artisan silver gallery—a major showplace for members of SAS and one of the largest collections of contemporary silver in the country. Approximately two dozen pieces, including holloware, flatware, and sculpture, will be displayed in specially designed cases. The Center, which is expecting approximately 200,000 visitors a year, will feature a special Lunt Designworks™ tour of its silversmithing facility and state-of-the-art glassblowing studio.

Great Finds

David Warther provides ivory blanks and insulators in both rough and polished finishes for tea and coffee pots. All ivory has been purchased from museums and private collections and meets the high legal requirements set forth by the U.S. government. David is also known for his detailed scale model ivory sailing ships. For a brochure and price list, contact David Warther Carving Museum, 2561 Crestview Dr. NW, Dover, Ohio 44622, Tel: 216/852-3455.

Women Silversmiths Researched

Gayle M. Clark, a journeyman silversmith at Colonial Williamsburg and Artisan member of SAS, is researching and seeking information on women silversmiths who were active during the 18th and 19th centuries. In addition to women silversmiths of this era, she is also collecting information on women engravers, blacksmiths, foundry workers, etc. Anyone supplying information that may be published from the research will be acknowledged. Gayle's address is 101 Whistle Walk, Williamsburg, Virginia 23188, Tel: 804/259-0816, Fax: 804/253-0278, E-mail: kyle@gc.net.

Artisan Happenings

Sue L. Amendolara received a 1995 Mid-Atlantic/NEA Regional Fellowship in Crafts. She was one of ten selected recipients from among 396 applicants. Sue and husband Bill Mathie, also have a new baby boy—seven-pound, four-ounce Leah Amendolara-Mathie who was born October 10, 1995.

Thomas R. Markusen received the 1996 NICHE Award in the Metal, Non-Wearable, Production, Decorative category for his suspended bowl with raspberry patina and gold leaf on a cast bronze base. Produced by the Rosen Group, the awards recognize the creative achievements of craft artists who produce work for galleries and retail stores.

Harold Schremmer received an honorable mention for his chalice in Modern Liturgy's annual Visual Arts Awards.

Welcome to our New Artisan

Randy J. Long of Bloomington, Indiana.

A Gorham Chaser Remembered
by Samuel J. Hough

Herman White didn't want to talk to me. He couldn't think what he, guy who had moved silver with a hammer all his life, would talk to an interviewer about. He had done his job, he had retired; why talk about it? Fortunately, he finally relented, and, for about four hours on July 25, 1995, we had that talk. From Mr. White, I learned a great deal about what it was like to work at Gorham as a chaser.

Herman S. White was born in Providence on December 29, 1912. In 1928 he got a job in the mail room at Gorham, and when an opening for an apprenticeship in the Chasing Department was announced he grabbed it. His training began on January 22, 1929. At that time, Gorham still had about thirty men who did only chasing, working in their own department, and their own room. The Chasing Room was a hard one to enter—a disproportionate number of its members stayed to work beyond their pension eligibility. James Albert Major, for example, had retired in July 1927 at the age of 76, after having worked at Gorham for 61 years.

But attrition in the room had been severe—in 1927, five men retired and two had died; in 1929 two more men were to retire—so for young White this was a great opportunity. His apprenticeship was served under the legendary Scotsman Robert Bain (1866-1946). White pays Bain the tribute of saying that, unlike most chasers who selected their punches with care, Bain could pick up any tool at hand and achieve the effect he wanted. Under Bain's gruff tutelage—he called the boys "you blue-eyed sons of bitches"—the apprentices were taught a wide range of silversmithing techniques. White showed me with pride three miniature teapots he had fashioned while training, each from a single Lincoln penny.

I'm not sure that White realized he was actually being complimented when, as he told me, Bain always gave him the most challenging work assignments. In those days, there was a two-hundred-dollar award for successful training, with amounts deducted for failures in comportment. While he was an instigator of various pranks, Herman White was never caught. He collected the full sum upon completion of his apprenticeship.

While an apprentice, he also studied modeling with Hugo Carlborg, also a Gorham employee, during evening sessions at the Rhode Island School of Design. I learned elsewhere that Carlborg considered White the best student he ever taught. The world of chasing which Herman White entered was much more rigidly controlled by economics than the work of the generation he succeeded. Caps were placed on the amount of time to be spent on a project, designs were simpler, and much of the decoration was achieved by stamping or casting rather than by chasing. White eventually became foreman of the Chasing Department, but by that time the number of chasers had been greatly reduced and the foreman was forbidden by union rules to do any chasing himself. When further reorganization placed chasing alongside other skilled silvercrafts, White moved to the Design Department, where his skills as a modeler were put to use.

When he retired in December 1977, White put silver work behind him. He died on December 1, 1995, at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in North Providence, Rhode Island.

Herman White, skilled in a range of silver techniques, worked fifty years at Gorham, maintaining a tradition of quality during a period of contraction in the industry. When the time came to retire he put down his tools and walked away. He seemed, too, in his life, to be modest but sure of himself, and I expect that, when he was called to put down his tools for the last time, he went with the same firmness of certainty.

Mr. Hough can be contacted at The Owl at the Bridge, 25 Berwick Ln., Cranston, Rhode Island 02905-3708, Tel/Fax: 401/467-7362.

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