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TITLE
John Fraser, Inverness silversmith (32 of 39)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_SILVERSMITH_32
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
PERIOD
1970s
CREATOR
John Fraser
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2260
KEYWORDS
jewellery
jewelry
craftsman
craftsmen
metalwork
silversmiths
audio

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John Fraser, an Inverness silversmith, served his apprenticeship in the 1930s with Medlock and Craik, watchmakers and jewellers at 6 Bridge Street, Inverness. The firm later had premises in Exchange Place, and Queensgate.

In this audio extract from the 1970s, Mr Fraser goes through the processes of making a silver bowl (1 of 2). The photograph, courtesy of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG), is of one of John Fraser's pieces - a Clan Hannah badge with the motto, 'Per Laborem Ad Alta'

'If you were making a bowl, the first thing you would do, really, is you'd have to work out what dimensions you wanted: what size of bowl you wanted; you'd need a lip on it; you'd need a body; you'd need a foot; and if you wanted to put handles on it, well, you'd need extra metal for that. But basically, the most important thing would be make out the size of the actual disc of silver. I mean, if you were making a bowl, well, you wouldn't start off with a square sheet, you'd start off with a disc.

You'd want standard silver which is soft, and you'd want it a certain thickness. In other words, it would depend, I think, to a large extent, on how much money was available. If a lot of money was available, well you could start off with a thickness about, oh, .056, fairly thick, be about a millimetre and a half. Now, one of the advantages, really, from a, simplifying it is, that if you buy the disc, you'd probably have a centre spot on it so you wouldn't have to start fiddling about to find the centre.

Then you would, you'd put it into a shallow bowl, a wooden bowl, aye a wooden block, rather. That'd be on the workbench. Just place your disc on it and use a wooden mallet with an oval head on it or a round head, and just bash it in. That's literally what you would be doing. And you'd bash it into that depression and you would get a shallow disc, like a clock glass.

If you wanted to increase the depth of that piece of silver, you'd put it into, onto a block, or a pad, say about ten inches wide, fairly soft, with plenty of give in it, probably filled up with silver [sand?] or flour, a leather pad. And you could stand that thing up on its side and start hammering from the outer edge, in towards the centre, and you could deepen the impression, you know, into an almost shallow dish. And you could keep hammering at that actually on that pad until you got a shallow bowl.

And once you would get that shaped, you could anneal it then. And then take it from there, to a peg-leg vice, with a stake in it, with a round surface on it, on the top, but with the sides falling off quicker, and what you would do is you'd start on the outer edge and start beating it with a flat faced hammer, planishing hammer. You could deepen it and, but with this type of thing you would really get a shape like a quaich, you know, a shallow bowl shape. Basically, all you need is something with a depression to start it up and secondly you need a fairly good polished stake, but fairly plain, round stake, with the sides falling off so that you can reverse the process and start hammering on it. And you would just go round and round and round in circles, like that, until it would come up, it would gradually come up, but it would remain in a shallow shape but it would take the, it would come into conformity, more than anything else. And, apart from that you would also get the hammer marks all over the whole outside of the thing, you know, and on the inside as well.

The next process from then would be to take it off that and stone it, with water of air stone, if you wanted to get it a clean surface, and you'd have to do that inside and out. Nowadays you could use abrasives on the inside, you see, and a polishing mop and go all over the inside, lift it, impregnated wheels, rubber wheels, you know, with grit. And you could do the same thing on the outside. But with the water of air stone - I don't know what it is - you get a very nice surface. You just dip it into the water and do it by hand until you got a fairly even texture all the way round. You took a lot of the bumps and things like that out, any razures that were on it with the hammer marks and you'd find it much easier to polish after that because any fire stain that you got from your annealing would come out with the water of air stone as well. You might even have to get to the stage where you would use files on certain sections of it or, you would use emery paper fairly rough and then gradually work down to fine. You'd take it from that and polish it. And you've got your bowl, with no feet, no rim, no handles, and these things you would make separately'

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John Fraser, Inverness silversmith (32 of 39)

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

1970s

jewellery; jewelry; craftsman; craftsmen; metalwork; silversmiths; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: John Fraser, Silversmith

John Fraser, an Inverness silversmith, served his apprenticeship in the 1930s with Medlock and Craik, watchmakers and jewellers at 6 Bridge Street, Inverness. The firm later had premises in Exchange Place, and Queensgate. <br /> <br /> In this audio extract from the 1970s, Mr Fraser goes through the processes of making a silver bowl (1 of 2). The photograph, courtesy of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG), is of one of John Fraser's pieces - a Clan Hannah badge with the motto, 'Per Laborem Ad Alta'<br /> <br /> 'If you were making a bowl, the first thing you would do, really, is you'd have to work out what dimensions you wanted: what size of bowl you wanted; you'd need a lip on it; you'd need a body; you'd need a foot; and if you wanted to put handles on it, well, you'd need extra metal for that. But basically, the most important thing would be make out the size of the actual disc of silver. I mean, if you were making a bowl, well, you wouldn't start off with a square sheet, you'd start off with a disc. <br /> <br /> You'd want standard silver which is soft, and you'd want it a certain thickness. In other words, it would depend, I think, to a large extent, on how much money was available. If a lot of money was available, well you could start off with a thickness about, oh, .056, fairly thick, be about a millimetre and a half. Now, one of the advantages, really, from a, simplifying it is, that if you buy the disc, you'd probably have a centre spot on it so you wouldn't have to start fiddling about to find the centre. <br /> <br /> Then you would, you'd put it into a shallow bowl, a wooden bowl, aye a wooden block, rather. That'd be on the workbench. Just place your disc on it and use a wooden mallet with an oval head on it or a round head, and just bash it in. That's literally what you would be doing. And you'd bash it into that depression and you would get a shallow disc, like a clock glass.<br /> <br /> If you wanted to increase the depth of that piece of silver, you'd put it into, onto a block, or a pad, say about ten inches wide, fairly soft, with plenty of give in it, probably filled up with silver [sand?] or flour, a leather pad. And you could stand that thing up on its side and start hammering from the outer edge, in towards the centre, and you could deepen the impression, you know, into an almost shallow dish. And you could keep hammering at that actually on that pad until you got a shallow bowl. <br /> <br /> And once you would get that shaped, you could anneal it then. And then take it from there, to a peg-leg vice, with a stake in it, with a round surface on it, on the top, but with the sides falling off quicker, and what you would do is you'd start on the outer edge and start beating it with a flat faced hammer, planishing hammer. You could deepen it and, but with this type of thing you would really get a shape like a quaich, you know, a shallow bowl shape. Basically, all you need is something with a depression to start it up and secondly you need a fairly good polished stake, but fairly plain, round stake, with the sides falling off so that you can reverse the process and start hammering on it. And you would just go round and round and round in circles, like that, until it would come up, it would gradually come up, but it would remain in a shallow shape but it would take the, it would come into conformity, more than anything else. And, apart from that you would also get the hammer marks all over the whole outside of the thing, you know, and on the inside as well. <br /> <br /> The next process from then would be to take it off that and stone it, with water of air stone, if you wanted to get it a clean surface, and you'd have to do that inside and out. Nowadays you could use abrasives on the inside, you see, and a polishing mop and go all over the inside, lift it, impregnated wheels, rubber wheels, you know, with grit. And you could do the same thing on the outside. But with the water of air stone - I don't know what it is - you get a very nice surface. You just dip it into the water and do it by hand until you got a fairly even texture all the way round. You took a lot of the bumps and things like that out, any razures that were on it with the hammer marks and you'd find it much easier to polish after that because any fire stain that you got from your annealing would come out with the water of air stone as well. You might even have to get to the stage where you would use files on certain sections of it or, you would use emery paper fairly rough and then gradually work down to fine. You'd take it from that and polish it. And you've got your bowl, with no feet, no rim, no handles, and these things you would make separately'