A while ago I was approached by client who wanted to make a Chalice of his own design, but didn’t have the tools, equipment and know-how to undertake the Chalice Body construction.
He presented me with a very accurate drawing, with measurements, and I agreed to undertake the project. The body was to be ‘seamed’, as opposed to being ‘raised’ from a flat sheet. The cost of hammering such a shape would be high due to the time required, whereas seaming from a pre-cut ‘development’ would be quicker and therefore more affordable.
The first thing required to produce such an accurate shape was a steel former, or ‘stake’ as it is known in the Trade. This had to be machined from a solid round bar and a great deal of metal cut away to arrive at the correct profile of the curve required. This was executed on the lathe as seen in the first three photographs. This was done by hand and by using a profile template during the ‘roughing down’ and finishing process, using a file and various grades on emery paper to arrive at the smooth (Photo 3).
The development was drawn up and a foil blank used to check the joins. The silver blank was then cut out with a saw and a hide mallet used to shape it around the stake. The edges are aligned, also using the mallet, and then hard soldered using enamelling grade sterling silver solder.
After pickling in a 10% sulphuric acid solution (or Alum solution) the seamed body is washed and dried thoroughly.
Raising, bouging (from the french word ‘bouger’ – to smooth) and planishing then began in earnest.
After full finishing the interior of the chalice was gilded with 24ct gold in order to resist any corrosion or discolouration due to the sulphides found in wine.