© Summer/Fall 1998 Newsletter


SAS Relocates

Please pardon the tardiness of the Summer/Fall issue of SASnews as the Society and Jeffrey Herman, its executive director, relocated to northwestern Rhode Island effective August 22, 1998. The new mailing address is PO Box 704, Chepachet, Rhode Island, 02814-0704. The telephone number has changed to 401/567-7800 and facsimile: 401/567-7801. The e-mail and Web addresses remain the same. If you find yourself in this area of the state and Jeff Herman's schedule permits, please feel free to stop in and see his restoration and conservation workshop.

With its relocation and approach of the Society's 10th anniversary next April, it was also time for a more contemporary look to our newsletters and all other printed material. Hope you like it.

New at Silversmithing.com

A chat room has been installed. SilverChat, open 24 hours a day, is an exciting feature to our site and will allow silver enthusiasts from around the world to "talk" to each other without incurring long-distance telephone charges. Discussions with specialists in the silver field are scheduled for Thursday nights from 9:00–11:00 pm EST. Check the schedule at: http://www.silversmithing.com/1chat.htm. If you would like to host a chat, please contact Jeffrey Herman.

Our Next Scheduled Chat

Date: October 22
Time: 9:00–11:00 pm EST
Guest: William Erik Voss

Mr. Voss has been collecting silver for ten years and American coin silver exclusively for the past three. His main interest is the development of regional styles and variations in standard forms. While primarily centered in the Federal era, his collection has examples from the 1780s to 1860s and represents the work of approximately 150 makers. His goal is to have a piece from every silversmith working between 1800 and 1840.

When not peering at hallmarks, Mr. Voss operates, with his wife Carmen, a small letterpress printing company named Bella Fortuni. Using hand-set lead type, they print all manner of invitations and stationery goods on antique platen presses. They have also printed and published several dozen books on topics ranging from hummingbird lore to a history of the Great Western Railroad.

1998 Student Silversmiths Competition Reminder

Additional First-Place Prize!

Noted collector and author of Antique Silver Servers, Seymour Rabinovich, has added an additional grand prize to the Silversmiths Competition. The winner will receive a commission of $1,500 to create a broad-bladed sterling server of their own design. The piece will become part of a collection of contemporary servers assembled by Rabinovich, who is a professor of chemistry at the University of Washington.

The collection is currently on display at the Seattle Art Museum until March, 1999, and was first shown at Goldsmiths' Hall in London. The collection is part of an effort to support the craft and, at the same time, to provide a focused comparison of American and British styles and techniques.

The Criteria

The entry must have been created while the student was enrolled in any degree or noncredit course in the United States, between January 1, 1996, and October 31, 1998. Graduates from 1997 and 1998 are also eligible.

The object (holloware, flatware, or sculpture) must contain at least 50% sterling or fine silver. Sorry, jewelry is not accepted. THERE IS NO ENTRY FEE!

What We Need

We require an 8" x 10" glossy, black & white, professional- quality photograph of each entry. You may submit as many entries as you like.

When We Need It

All entries MUST be postmarked by OCTOBER 31, 1998. Late entries cannot be considered. To request an entry form with additional details, please see your metal-arts department head or send a SASE to: 1998 Silversmiths Competition, Society of American Silversmiths, PO Box 704, Chepachet, RI 02814-0704.

Determining Precious Metal Content
by Scott V. Martin

A professional silversmith's workshop is usually equipped with an arsenal of tools for crafting/repairing precious-metal objects. But when it comes to determining the mix of precious metal and base metal, most silversmiths just reach for two tools: their own best guess and/or an acid-based solution test. The more experienced the smith, the more dependable the results from these methods.

Are there other methods that should be in the silversmith's tool chest? Yes, many. They can be broken down into three groups; invasive, noninvasive, and nominally invasive tests. Most of these tests can be done by professional silversmiths in their workshops. A few of the tests require the services of a laboratory. Outside laboratory tests are most often used when the results of tests done in the workshop are inconclusive. Laboratory tests are more generally available today than they once were, and the costs have become affordable.

Why test? Which test? If you are going to test an object for precious-metal content, make sure you know why testing is necessary and how to select the most appropriate testing method. For example, when evaluating raw stock, any one of the invasive acid-based tests should reveal all the information a silversmith may need to know. But for the repair of a museum piece or antique, the invasive tests would leave the object less intact, so one of the noninvasive tests should be utilized. Whether invasive or noninvasive, some of the testing methods a silversmith could utilize are Touchstone tests, various Nitric Acid tests, Dichromate Acid test, Fire Assay, Gay-Lussac Humid test, Heat/Melting Point test, X-ray Fluorescence testing, Electronic tests, Specific Gravity tests, Empirical tests, IRE tests, and others.

For more information, visit the SAS Library page at http://www.silversmithing.com/books.htm#smp, and see Jeff Herman's review of Scott Martin's book: The Guide to Evaluating Gold & Silver.

Artisan Happenings

Sue Amendolara, Boris Bally, Chunghi Choo, Jack & Marilyn da Silva, Cynthia Eid, Susan Ewing, Fred Fenster, Jeffrey Herman, Curtis LaFollette, Linda LaRoche, Richard Mafong, John Marshall, Kurt Matzdorf, Richard Mawdsley, Thomas Muir, Heikki Seppä, Lin Stanionis, Billie Jean Theide, and Leonard Urso showed work in Raised from Tradition: Holloware Past & Present, an exhibition of historical and contemporary holloware, including jewelry, sculpture, and functional objects. They were among 44 of North America's most distinguished artists who continue to advance the field. Curated by Jack & Marilyn da Silva, the exhibition was hosted by the Seafirst Gallery in Seattle, Washington, and coincided with the Society of North American Goldsmiths' annual conference last March.

Michael Banner participated in ACC's West Springfield, Massachusetts, Craft Show in June.

William Frederick recently fabricated a 5" vase in 18 karat yellow gold. The material cost, including scrap, was $3,063. By comparison, if sterling had been used, the material and scrap cost would not have exceeded $70. I'm sure this wedding anniversary present was well-received!

Kathy Hart was a finalist in the 1998 Spertus Judaica Prize Competition, which is scheduled to open October 25, 1998, and run through June 18, 1999.

Jeffrey Herman is now an advisor and member of the Association of Restorers. Its mission is to increase awareness of choices in the conservation, refurbishment, and restoration of antiques, household furnishings, and works of art. Through education and networking, the best method can be selected to enhance, stabilize, and return a piece to its original beauty and/or use. They can be contacted at PO Box 447, Salisbury Center, NY 13454, Tel: 315/429-3094, Fax: 315/429-7265, Web: http://www.antiquerestorers.com.

A crosier created by Harold Schremmer won a BENE Best of Show Award in Modern Liturgy's 1998–1999 Visual Arts Awards, Seasonal and Occasional category. Hal also received a $100 check and 100 copies of the magazine.

Valentin Yotkov will teach the basics of chasing and repoussé. Techniques will include shaping, hardening, tempering, and polishing your own tools from square or round steel stock, as well as preparation and use of a pitch bowl. Step by step instruction will progress to creating your own designs on jewelry and holloware, using liners, embossing, modeling, and matting punches. The ten classes, which cost $360, run from December 1–February 2, and December 2–February 3. Students have a choice of four sessions: Tuesdays from 2–5 pm or 6–9 pm, and Wednesdays from 2–5 pm or 6–9 pm. For more information, contact Valentin Yotkov Studio, 154 Carroll St., Brooklyn, New York 11231, 718/852-8640.

Supplier News

Performix Software, our supplier of Multimedia ShowCase, is no longer in business.

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