Thou shall hev a fishy,

On a little dishy.

the chalice that got polished yesterday is for the kings chapel, but it needed a paten, the matching dish for communion.


I was unable to find a pic of the paten that went with the original chalice, the v and a deem it unworthy of a photo due to it’s lack of adornment. Patens were often plain, but also many had and ihs monogram or Christian fish in the centre.

the grumpy Darwin fish is just what happens when the lifelong atheist is left alone to make church furniture. He is at least from a medieval bible.

For all it’s seeming simplicity I found this little plate quite challenging. Because the metal had to be hammered within the precise confines of the ledge it required  more precision than raising a cup, which is hammered all over. I ran into problems cleaning it up because raising often creates deep scars in the metal which are then smoothed out during planishing. Planishing is done by hammering flat against a stake ( people often suggest ear protection because of the noise of silversmithing, but you need to hear the metal. A hollow sound is what you listen for when raising, a solid clang when sinking or planishing), but the angle made by the plate shape made this impossible.

after deliberating all summer I decided the paten would have to be ground into shape with a corundum stone. I know this is due to my own lack of skill because traditional methods rely on shaping the metal without removing any of it.


there is a medieval proverb about silver that I think sums it up. Silver should be, ” a joy to the eye, a comfort to the hall, and a friend in time of need.” In other words it should be good to look at, useful for dinner, and if push comes to shove you can always pawn it when the men at arms need paying.  ( the English Crown Jewels have been pawned more times than you’d think) A medieval version of William Morris “have nothing in your home that you do not believe to be beautiful or know to be useful” but with benefits.

but now you’re wondering what  this has to do with working methods. Well, hammering keeps the metal, and the pawnable wieght of the metal, intact, grinding removes some of that all important wieght. A medieval silversmith was given the bullion metal by his client, fashioned it, then gave it back- giving back significantly less metal to ones client would quickly garnered a poor professional reputation.

on a related note, the current vogue for premium priced “Eco silver” bullion (ie recycled ) amuses me enormously because the main reason we have so little surviving medieval silver is that when your domestic plate was deemed unfashionable you handed it over to a smith who melted it down and re made it. Most of the surviving domestic ware is either from buried hoards or odd bits preserved in church because it was donated.

anyway, I have rambled. But the paten fits on top of the chalice, as it should. I want to Make a chalice veil as well.


Branston is most disgruntled. He thinks a fishy dishy should be for treats for good little kitties. I explained that I don’t know any good little kitties, cos I know him and Hobbes, who are neither good nor little.

i am currently experimenting with raising a plain hanap, but I would like to eventually progress to one like this French one of 1180. It’s very pretty but it looks like a swine to clean…image

But it does have dragons and a spiders web

~ by opusanglicanum on September 6, 2015.

10 Responses to “Thou shall hev a fishy,”

  1. Fabulous subversive Darwinian fish. :oD So impressed with your skill. Raising and planishing is well and truly beyond me. And still giggling about the cat comment…!

  2. Fishy doesn’t look to pleased about the prospect of evolving – or is it contemlating the prospect of evolving into Kitty Kibble?

  3. This is really interesting, I had no idea of the details that went into silversmithing. Why does your fishy have feet?

  4. Delightfully subversive – and charming.

  5. And because we have so little medieval silver, we have no idea whether there might in fact have been funny little Darwin fish on some of it…!

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