One of the skills you are taught as a silversmith, in fact a smith of any kind of fine metal is piercing. Piercing is the term used for removing sections of metal with a very fine tooth saw. It is a very precise practise that takes some learning before you master it. It is the bane of many silversmiths, as is chain-making, and requires a high degree of perseverance and concentration. Accuracy is paramount.
I’ve always admired very intricate and delicate designs produced in jewellery, from the astonishing filigree work of Moorish silversmiths, to the beautifully complex knot-work of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, and indeed the work of master-crafts-persons like Faberge. Of course many techniques are often employed in a piece in order to achieve the desired effect, one of which will undoubtedly involve the piercing of metal which is an integral part of being a metal smith. However, what really appealed to me when I was undergoing my own training at college years ago was using the art of piercing and fretwork as the main decorative focus for a piece of jewellery, and being that I like a challenge, the kind that others tend to drop like a hot brick, I decided that I would learn to master it. A relaxed sawing hand, a vice-like finger grip with the other hand, and an acute eye are what’s required, and of course good lighting so that you can see your work clearly without too much glare.
Although I am far from having mastered this art, fretwork has become one of my favourite techniques and I get giddy with excitement at the thought of how intricate I can make a design. All designs are my own (except for the leaves, nature takes all the credit there), although they may reflect certain styles. Here’s a selection of several works in progress, and the first piece of pierced fretwork that I produced as a college student.