This commission was a joy to create. Work on it progressed for a number of months. It involved a process of back and forth exchanges with my client which resulted in an interesting growth of design ideas. The process allowed me a lot of freedom, while at the same time providing some parameters. The flowers chosen for the tooling are lilies, and the verses are favorites of my client. The leather inlay is hippopotamus, and the construction is all hand stitched, with the gussets hand box stitched. The case is fully lined in a premium kangaroo leather. The silver is all sterling, and the scroll work in the leather and silver are, uniquely, a compliment to each other. Bespoke casework like this is rare. Many of the details that were once expected as a mark of excellence are not often seen today. It is a great pleasure to be engaged in this work.
Commissioned by the LDS Church and installed in an exhibit at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Ancient metalsmiths would have used a hammer to pound out metal plate from a cast metal ingot. This “planishing” leaves distinctive marks. I, thankfully, was able to start with mill rolled plate. Even at that the planishing required hundreds of hours of mesmerizing hammering, pounding and tap taping.
ANNEALING to soften the metal
As non-iron metal is worked it becomes harder. It must be heated and then quenched in the process known as annealing to regain its malleable properties. To transform an ingot into a plate requires seemingly endless cycles of hammering and annealing.
Cleaning after the ANNEALING
After the final annealing, the plates were made as flat as possible. Then each was cleaned of the discoloration caused by the heat. This is only accomplished with a fine abrasive.
Engraving the Characters
Once the plates are prepared through these previous steps they are ready to be engraved. I used a bright flat graver. This allowed the lines to vary in width, giving the characters more life.