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TITLE
John Fraser, Inverness silversmith (33 of 39)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_SILVERSMITH_33
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
PERIOD
1970s
CREATOR
John Fraser
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2261
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 (2 of 2). The photograph, courtesy of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG), is of one of John Fraser's pieces - a Clan Sinclair chieftain's badge with the motto, 'Semper Credens'.

'Now, if you're putting a foot on it and you wanted a splayed foot, you would just take a piece of silver from a piece of sheet, turn it into a circle, and get the scale against the actual size of the bowl and solder it with very hard solder, then put it on a stake, a round stake, and beat one end of it up, one edge of it up, until you got the actual splay. You would clean all that up, file it all up, dress it all up, polish it, and that would be your foot ready for soldering.

Now, you could put a rim of half round wire on the inside of the bowl to strengthen it, or you could put it on the outside. But whichever way you do it you're going to have to solder it on. So your bowl is more or less finished and your wire should be fairly well finished. You wouldn't have any finishing on that anyway because it's been drawn up through, and it's all clean. You could put it on by soldering the wire together as a loop and then putting it over the bowl and you'd find that it was just that wee bit tight. And by doing it that way you could hammer the wire out a wee bit and still reshape it to get a very tight fit.

Now, you would either run your solder in from the bowl side of the wire, or on the top. You could put it in with pallions of silver - little bits of silver - all the way round, at an interval of perhaps quarter of an inch, each piece, and then put the Bunsen on it, not the Bunsen, but the blow torch, heat it all up and let the solder flood. And if there was any parts where it was down below the actual edge of the wire that you'd put onto the rim, you could always file that out, you see? Stone it, polish it and get it nice and clean.

The same thing would happen with the foot, the difference being that in doing the foot, you've got the bowl fairly steady, you lay the foot for your centre, you could put a strip, a piece of wire solder and you could flood it with the wire. You could hold the wire on the blow torch inside the flame and you could touch a part of it and let it flood and lift it. You had to be pretty sharp, you know? In the old days, in the way that we did it, the bulk of it was done with pallions. I think possibly because the idea of doing it with a piece of wire or a strip where you touch it and it floods - which is normal silversmithing practice - I think you'd find that this was done in a bigger workshop where people were more skilled in using it that way and had to do a lot more of it. But when you're only doing it once in a while, the safest way would be to use pallions of solder and then put riflers in or files in to scrape off where little bits of the solder were showing and then repolish it.

The difference with the actual flooding of it, using rod, is that once you touch the spot and it floods, it's very clean, it doesn't drop out anywhere, it just goes right round that edge and fills up and settles and you've a very clean solder join, you know? And it looks better. It looks as if the whole thing is all one piece. You could put your handles on, you could put a pierced handle, just a piece of sheet silver, pierce a design out on it and solder it underneath the rim, up against the side of the bowl'

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John Fraser, Inverness silversmith (33 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 (2 of 2). The photograph, courtesy of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG), is of one of John Fraser's pieces - a Clan Sinclair chieftain's badge with the motto, 'Semper Credens'.<br /> <br /> 'Now, if you're putting a foot on it and you wanted a splayed foot, you would just take a piece of silver from a piece of sheet, turn it into a circle, and get the scale against the actual size of the bowl and solder it with very hard solder, then put it on a stake, a round stake, and beat one end of it up, one edge of it up, until you got the actual splay. You would clean all that up, file it all up, dress it all up, polish it, and that would be your foot ready for soldering. <br /> <br /> Now, you could put a rim of half round wire on the inside of the bowl to strengthen it, or you could put it on the outside. But whichever way you do it you're going to have to solder it on. So your bowl is more or less finished and your wire should be fairly well finished. You wouldn't have any finishing on that anyway because it's been drawn up through, and it's all clean. You could put it on by soldering the wire together as a loop and then putting it over the bowl and you'd find that it was just that wee bit tight. And by doing it that way you could hammer the wire out a wee bit and still reshape it to get a very tight fit. <br /> <br /> Now, you would either run your solder in from the bowl side of the wire, or on the top. You could put it in with pallions of silver - little bits of silver - all the way round, at an interval of perhaps quarter of an inch, each piece, and then put the Bunsen on it, not the Bunsen, but the blow torch, heat it all up and let the solder flood. And if there was any parts where it was down below the actual edge of the wire that you'd put onto the rim, you could always file that out, you see? Stone it, polish it and get it nice and clean. <br /> <br /> The same thing would happen with the foot, the difference being that in doing the foot, you've got the bowl fairly steady, you lay the foot for your centre, you could put a strip, a piece of wire solder and you could flood it with the wire. You could hold the wire on the blow torch inside the flame and you could touch a part of it and let it flood and lift it. You had to be pretty sharp, you know? In the old days, in the way that we did it, the bulk of it was done with pallions. I think possibly because the idea of doing it with a piece of wire or a strip where you touch it and it floods - which is normal silversmithing practice - I think you'd find that this was done in a bigger workshop where people were more skilled in using it that way and had to do a lot more of it. But when you're only doing it once in a while, the safest way would be to use pallions of solder and then put riflers in or files in to scrape off where little bits of the solder were showing and then repolish it. <br /> <br /> The difference with the actual flooding of it, using rod, is that once you touch the spot and it floods, it's very clean, it doesn't drop out anywhere, it just goes right round that edge and fills up and settles and you've a very clean solder join, you know? And it looks better. It looks as if the whole thing is all one piece. You could put your handles on, you could put a pierced handle, just a piece of sheet silver, pierce a design out on it and solder it underneath the rim, up against the side of the bowl'