A work of research
Della cultura non si dà ricetta: ma, poiché la cultura non è l’erudizione,
cultura diviene solo quella che, entrando a far parte della conoscenza, diventa coscienza.
Artisan production is certainly unique. But in the case of restoration work, the silversmiths’ work also per force involves a research into the past and a deep knowledge of the object’s history that, despite being interrelated, must precede the restoration work itself.
In this sense, the silversmith is a figure somewhere between a craftsman and an art historian: the is the repository of a technical know-how that stems from experience and practice and, at the same time, a person with a critical awareness, perhaps not necessarily erudite, but unquestionably in possession of concrete and conscious knowledge.
Since 1791, silversmithing has been carried on within the restricted family environment and handed down from father to son through a practice that starts to be taught early in life. This cultural tradition embraces the working methods and their secrets as well as the knowledge of the complex world of hallmarks, with its laws and rules.
Silver is the metal used the most in the workshop. In its pure form, it is the whitest and shiniest of all metals; its physical properties of malleability and ductility make it easy to mould.
This technique can be defined as the design produced by engraving the metal with ciapole, i.e. burins; the marks they leave are sharp and clean-cut.
The difficulty and complexity of such work lies in the precision required to use the engraving tool as well as in the knowledge of the design.
The engraver works on a wooden support with a base and a surface or, in the case of considerable sizes, directly on the piece.
With this technique, the metal sheet is shaped by hammering and chiselling following a design created previously on the metal support.
In this way, the relief is obtained on the opposite side: repoussage is executed from the back of the plate, pressing outwards and chiselling from the reverse side.
The engraver works on a stone half sphere over which a tar mixture is poured in order to incorporate and fix the object.
Gold-plating and silver-plating in electrolyte bath
Gold plating and silver plating are performed using the electrolytic method or electroplating.
This technique, developed at the end of the 18th century, guarantees uniform gold and silver plating using minimum quantities of precious metal.
Many different casting procedures are adopted in the workshop: moulding box (to create the bases of candleholders or goblets), die-casting (small bas-reliefs, statuettes, decorations, badges and medals), lost-wax casting and cuttlefish casting.