Note: we are talking traditional silversmith, not a present day silversmith who makes jewelry out of silver. A traditional silversmith how makes hollowware such as bowls and other vessels, trays, dishes, cutlery; and other functional items.
Making a teapot has been on my list of things to learn and make since I started on this path over 5 years ago. Actually it was on my list since I was a little kid and read about silversmiths and now I am finally starting the project.
I have read as many books as I can get my hands on about raising and the various parts of the teapot - the body, the spout, the handle, the lid and the feet or support on the bottom. Then there is the making of the parts - the raising, sinking soldering, making patterns and more. BUT until you start planning and making one, the concept of how much time and effort it takes starts to sink in (yeah, that's a metal pun) and unless you have someone to guide in mentor you, the teapot can be an exceptional failure.
That brings us to earlier this year when Liza Nechamkin and I started to plan this project which will take many visits to her studio and a lot of homework on my part afterwards to either practice what I learned in each studio visit or to move the project along.
Which brings us to two weeks ago, which was the first session - Making the body of the teapot. Way back when, many teapots had raised bodies but raising a body can take time and can be tea-dious (see another pun) and so the body of this teapot will be seamed. The best seam for long tubes is lapped and keyed which is what I learned to do on the first day of my visit along with forming the sheet into the tube and wiring it for soldering. On the second day I soldered the tube with hard and I mean HARD solder. Trust me hard solder does not like to flow and getting a 6" long seam soldered is difficult - imagine that easy solder flows like butter when melted; then hard solder flows like frozen cheese! Plus the tube started out as 12" long and is 18g (0.04") thick which requires massive amounts of heat to just bring it up to temperature and THEN you have to solder it with hard solder.
But before I soldered the silver tube, I made a practice tube out of copper with the lapped and keyed seam so I had twice the practice of doing it all including the soldering.
The soldering was done in three phases - tacking it, the soldering and then the fixing of areas where the solder did not flow or did not flow enough. The entire process was nerve wracking to say the least but I did it with Liz's wonderful instruction.
Now I have a massive tube of silver on my workbench. Next time we will clean up the solder and planish the seam and THEN we will raise the top and bottom in. Until that next session, which will be sometime next year, I will be practicing making lapped and keyed seam and soldering the seams closed. Hmm, tricket boxes?
Here is a video of the process, enjoy.