Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Studio Visit - Seamus Gill, Silversmith and Jeweller

The 'Studio Visits' will be a monthly blog instalment. We're opening our doors to introduce you to the artists and designers in The Design Tower! Each interview will give you an insight into the individual designer or business.

This month we're chatting to Seamus Gill -  Silversmith and Jeweller

Can you tell us how long you have been here in the Design Tower and what you do?

I have had a studio in The Design Tower for nearly 20 years and I am a silversmith.

What does that entail?

As a silversmith, I normally buy silver from a bullion dealer that has been rolled out into flat sheets, similar to a flat sheet of paper, but with a thickness from 1 to 1.5mm. With a hand saw I can cut the shape I want out of the flat sheet , then I move the flat sheet of silver by hammering it into a three dimensional shape.

Is silver easy to shape?

Silver is extremely malleable and a great metal to work with. The sheet silver can be moved by stretching or compressing the metal.

Do you model it with your hands?


Oh no! It’s much too hard for that. All the stretching and compressing is done by using hammers to move the metal and a selection of anvils, which we call stakes, to support the metal.


Do you hammer the metal hot like a blacksmith?

No. Silver and non ferrous metals are generally worked cold. But you can only move the metal so far until it work hardens. I then heat it up with a gas torch until it is red hot to anneal the metal. That relives the stress in the metal and brings it back to a soft state so it can be worked further. In every piece I make it’s a continual process of working the metal then annealing and then further working.

What do you make?

I work at two scales, the small scale of jewellery and the larger scale of silversmithing work.

My jewellery is like a small version of my silversmithing work, it is all formed and shaped flat sheet. Most of my jewellery balances a highly polished section against a textured finish. In my latest collection “Flowing Curves” I have added 22 carat gold plating to the textured surface as you can see in the photograph of the bangle.


Do you like making bangles?

It’s a great scale to work in. It’s just that bit too big for someone trained in jewellery but it’s nice and small for someone trained in silversmithing.

What are you doing next in jewellery?

I’m working on developing a new collection of jewellery which I hope to have ready to launch in DesignYard this autumn.

And you work on a larger scale?

Yes, most of what I do would be on a larger scale. I make a lot of tabletop silversmithing work. That’s like candlesticks, vases, water pitchers and larger pieces like that.

Where would you show that work?

I normally make it for exhibition. I’ve just taken part in an exhibition in London where I showed a body of work in the exhibition “the Ten Masters” of British Silversmithing as the launch of British Silver Week. And I am represented by DesignYard on Nassau Street, just a few doors down from Grafton Street. I regularly have work exhibited there.


Is all your silversmithing work for galleries?


No, I do a lot of silversmithing work to commission. Throughout the history of silversmithing most work is made to commission.

What exactly is commissioning?

Basically it’s where I can design and make a piece that you can’t get anywhere else. I suppose it’s a bespoke service.

What kind of commissions are you working on now?

I am making the trophies for the Darley Irish Oaks races at the Curragh and the awards for the Rugby player and Club of the year which is presented by the Rugby writers of Ireland and on some private presentation piece.

Do you only work in silver?


Over the last number of years I have made sculptural pieces in sheet bronze. It has very similar working qualities to silver, but without the high cost of silver. I have also introduced colour to my work through patination on the bronze.

At the moment I have some pieces in the “Portfolio” exhibition in the Farmleigh Gallery in the Phoenix Park and I’m working on some pieces for the “Sculpture in Context” exhibition that will be on in the Botanic Gardens in September.



Séamus, thank you for sharing your work with us!
Next month we will be featuring another designer from The Design Tower. You can also read the other interviews in the series.

No comments:

Post a Comment