Steve Wager, whom I’ve known for several years as a fellow trustee of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, runs classes in his south London workshop for people who’d like to know something about the craft of the silversmith. Just for fun I went to one of his spoon bashes at the weekend, where he taught us how to take a small silver ingot and to beat it into something vaguely resembling a spoon. It was a change from clay, a very different material.
He’s been in the trade for forty years, serving a traditional apprenticeship with Asprey and then working for them for many years before setting up independently. The large piece he’s holding is a loving cup in silver and silver gilt with inlaid jewels, which he talked to us about between our sessions with the planishing hammer and which I persauded him to take out of its box and to show us. It has a maritime theme, with a Neptune and a mermaid. (Price on application to S. E. Wager.)
Steve, with his great skill and experience, has a low opinion of jewellers and silversmiths who can do no more than assemble prefabricated components – he dismisses their work as “modern craft”. On the wall is his very formal admission certificate from the Worshipful Society of Goldsmiths in 1983, acknowledging that he has been apprenticed to a master in the ancient mystery.
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