An Aesthestic question

I know I said a few weeks ago that there would be no silversmithing pics until I’d finished things, but I’m in a quandry, so decided to consult teh internets hive mind gestalt thingy.

I started this chalice about five years ago and ended up leaving it on the bench because I couldn’t decide what to do. I’m trying to make a replica of this c12th Icelandic/british/Norwegian chalice

Excuse the picture, the piece is still in a semi-polished and unassembled state, and obviously I haven’t added any twiddly bits yet – I balanced the bits on top of each other for the pic, so if it looks skewwif its because it fell over three seconds later

I think what it needs is to be two different chalices. I need to make a smaller cup to fit the base and then do another base to go with the top, so basically make two cups.

I’m discounting taking the cup back to the stake and making it narrower because I’ve already planished it, and I don’t want to get hammer marks in and have to planish the whole thing all over again. I hate planishing. Ok, so if I make a new cup that will also have to be planished, but thats different.

Gareth is adamant that it looks fine and the top isn’t that much bigger than the bottom. There are chalices where the top is bigger than the bottom but on the whole for this period the bottom is bigger, and I prefer that look.

I am open to opinions, but I do have the feeling that I will never be happy if I leave it as it is.


~ by opusanglicanum on July 29, 2012.

36 Responses to “An Aesthestic question”

  1. I think it looks fine as it is as well, but it sounds like you’ve made up your mind to go with two separate pieces.

  2. If you want to be persnickety I think the cup and middle piece are proportioned quite nicely. What I see is the bottom piece is a bit tall and not quite wide enough at the base. But ONLY if you are trying to make an EXACT replica.

    Since there could be variety I think what you have is lovely.


    • i think there were definately variations, yes, but personally I think I’d prefer the cup and base to be the same diameter, not cos of the exact replaica thing, i just think it would look nicer

  3. If you are trying to reproduce the Iceland chalice then the bottom is definitely too small. The Iceland one’s top edge and base are the same diameter. That said, yours is very nice and looks shapely and well balanced. However, if you’re not going to be happy with it, then go ahead with your plan of 2 chalices. I’ll send you my address so you can send one of them to me.

    • I think I’m right and gareth is wrong, it need re making

      had a shock when I wieghed it though – when i bought the metal that was about sixty quids worth, now its 300!

  4. It has nice proportions, but they aren’t the same as the inspiration. Your 2 chalice plan sounds like a good one, plus on the upside they’ll hold more drink.

  5. The stem of you base is the right size it’s just that your chalice doesn’t have the large flat disc on the bottom. I don’t know how hard that is to fix.

  6. I’ve seen plenty of examples looking just like this, but if you’re unhappy with it, you do need to make some sort of change.

  7. For a replica, I’d make a new bottom piece — as wide as the cup, with a smaller vertical part inside a wider, flatter edge. To my eye, that looks like the defining quality of the original design.

    • I planned to make a new, smaller cup to fit this base (that tapered shape is a total swine to make, far harder than the actual cup part), then put the cup on a replica of a c12th hungarian jeweled base which has no surviving cup – the cups quite plain sowould work as a conjectural, best guess reconsruction for the other base

  8. It’s that niggling ‘I’ll never be quite happy with it’ that is the deciding factor. I say go for the two items! Also, looking at the original – I’d like to point out it’s a bit wonky itself!

    But I totally get the ‘not quite right’ issue – part of why I’ve never worn a couple of dresses I’ve made – not because they look bad, but because they aren’t what I pictured…

    • the original is probably wonky cos one of the priests had too much communion wine and dropped it on the floor

      I sometimes have that problem with dresses, but it usually not the dress, rather the fact I’m not willowy supermodel i think i am in my head. I think the negging thing is the clincher tho

  9. You were trying to make a replica of that pretty chalice, so do it. You have the skills for it, it just takes loads of time. That filigree work in the middle – ooh, nice! The engraved band at the top . I think it needs to be that wide at the bottom because the top is heavy when the top cup is filled.

    • the first chalice I ever made was a copy of the lacock abbey one, which is much much narrower at the base than the top – it doesn’t fall over when its filled

      i think i do need to change it though

  10. Asthetically, the example you’ve linked to can have a wider base because most of it is the flattened disk nearly parallel to the table. I think your chalice may be a bit wider in the funnel section of the base and much taller, so this adds visual weight. Because of this i’d say that makes it in proportion with the cup size, but of a different type of chalice model – one that doesn’t flare out at the base. I think a smaller cup would look out of proportion to such a visually heavy base.

    Hmm, can I justify that with examples of taller heavier funnels with cups that are equal or larger than them in our period? I feel like I’ve seen that shape a lot. Let me see:

    mostly there does seem to be a lower funnel and larger flare:

    The taller funnel with less flare at bottom and larger cup seems to be more in fashion earlier:*

    I’m not sure this helps resolve anything though…

    • I did think I had it wider at the base, but when i kocked the bottom round it foreshortened it more than I realised – cones are a swine to make in the first place, then a worry every time you hammer them, as unlike bowls they need a solder join, I’ve never had it happen but i’m always paranoid the solder will split.

      not to sound ungrateful, but you did quote pics of the same chalice (different images) in your for and against arguments. the one you double quoted was quite similar to the tassilo chalice, so quite old fashioned for c12th

      • I’ve had that kind of proportionality issues with cooking, but that’s so much less work than silversmithing – I’m in awe of your work.

        I was linking in a hurry, so sorry. And I was linking because I was trying to work out for myself why the shape seemed ok – but as you will have identified in your (not shown) researches, it’s because I’ve seen so many older chalices too, and probably people were using them too so illustrations of 12th C stuff might show this proportion too. But if you’re making something you probably like me want to try and make something specific to your time period, not just something that might have been used in your time period if it was elaborate enough to keep.

      • I always cater for who I know is coming, plus an extra hundred or so, just in case

        I really liked that one you linked too twice.

  11. If i would want to make à chalice like This, I would study it:
    – make measurements, sketch it.
    – compare vertical measurements to horizontal diameters.
    -try to find relationships between several measurements for ex the golden mean ratio ( 1.618 to 1.
    – like somebody suggested
    : the base has to be big compared to the cup. If it’s full , it won’t trip over easily.
    – for such a delicate and work intense undertaking I would make Wooden molds , in a lathe, to assist me in shaping and planing.
    It helps you to stay true yo your sketch or basic design , and helps you planing …

    • there are cups with narrower bases than top, and they dont fall over, so that bit isn’t really a problem, i think its more that I misjedged slightly from my original plan, and I’m not liking it much, nor am i becoming accustomed to it

      you don’t mould these on wooden forms, btw, you raise them from flat using a metal stake

  12. I can only say what one of my very first quilting mentors told me: if it offends the maker take it out – so if this offends your aesthetic sensibilities (and I am with Gareth) make it into two chalices. Otherwise every time you look at it you will be unhappy no matter how many compliments it gets from other people. I usually stick a bead over offending bits because other good advice I got in a workshop was every mistake is an opportunity for embellishment. Then again, you haven’t made any mistakes. I expect this is very helpful. I’ll go.

    • maybe my mistake was taking up silversmisthing in the first place?

      gareth does have a point as there are plenty of chalices with narrow bases but I think it has to be changed a bit or it will bug me foreever. part of my indicision, I think, is due to the massive increase in bullion prices – I’m much much slower to cut into a new piece of sheet metal than I used to be, but then due consideration is no bad thing.

  13. I’m impressed that anyone can do this it all. I think it’s going to finish up beautifully. As for the creative choices available to you – always go with your gut……it’s usually telling you something your head isn’t even aware of…..Yet!

    All the best

    • I’m going with the two cups thing. IN fact I already started recycling a piece of silver from another project that I decided to abort, which will take me a week or so before I can get it hammered to a workable size, but this stuff is never quick – i think that why I like it, it make me think of embroidery as fast and achievable

  14. Do only what makes you happy. It is yours.

  15. Everyone seems to have already given you plenty of advice, so I’ll just reiterate. If *you* are not happy with it then alter it or start again – there is no point putting all the further effort into something that you are always going to look at and think “ick, if only I’d altered that”. This applies even moreso when it is something you are making for yourself that you intend to keep.

  16. You aren’t happy with it on an artistic/personal level – BOTH of you are right. You are the artist and i happen to agree with you – two separate parts – make a new cup for the base and a new base for the cup – but that’s going to be expensive as silver has shot up in price.

    • I have enough stashed silver to make a new cup, but i’ve been far more reticent about cutting into new metal than i used to be since I realised how scary the prices have become. I have started a new cup for the base, but the new base for the cup is going to involve buying silver as it needs aq very tubular stem – I can, theoretically, make tube, but I’d need a swage block, which I dont have

  17. […] of you may remember this post last year, wherein I whined about not being happy with a piece of silversmithing I’d been […]

  18. […] of you may remember that two whole summer ago I was wibbling about what to do with a silver chalice I’d had on my workbench for a while becuase I’d got the top and bottom all out of […]

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