Back in the summer of 2020 I was commissioned to make a small Christening beaker for a little girl called Fleur. Her great grandfather had made one for her sister a few years previous, but was unfortunately no longer well enough to smith, and so my brief was to make a beaker for Fleur that matched her sister’s as closely as possible. Fleur’s beaker was delivered in the October of 2020, just in time for her great grandfather to see it before he sadly passed away.
In March 2021 his wife approached me with a special request. Whilst clearing through her husband’s things she had found a piece of silver that had been partly raised – the last piece he’d ever worked on – and reluctant to simply send it for scrap, she asked if I could complete the raising and turn it into a finished piece. Believing he had intended to remake an earlier piece of his he thought was lost, but which his wife had since found, she asked what I thought it could become instead and after considering the size and the originally intended form I suggested a jug. I had also just finished my scholarship with Brett Payne, and was keen to incorporate the new forging skills I had just learnt. So the brief was set; I was to complete the raising following, as closely as possible, the originally intended form, but I could have freedom over the design of the handle as my contribution to the collaboration. After consultation with the Sheffield Assay Office I was also able to get permission to have both our sponsor marks added to the hallmark as a way of commemorating the client’s husband.
The project had to go on hold for several months while I recovered from a broken collar bone and surgery, and eased myself back into hammer work, but it was a joy to finally deliver the finished piece early this September. This has been one of the most deeply personal, emotional and symbolic pieces I have had the pleasure to create, but it hit home when the jug came back from the Assay Office and I registered for the first time whilst inspecting the hallmark that, but for our middle names, we shared the same initials: CJT / CRT.