Vessels remade into Purses......

Sep 21 2011

I was trained as a silversmith back in college ( god, that was a quarter century ago!) so I learned to raise sheet metal into vessels, and forged thick metal bars into utensils.   Well, 20 odd years later, who's gotta buy hand-raised copper or silver bowls, or pay for expensive flatware?    Not to mention the sheer wear and tear on the body from the thousands of repetitive hammer blows required to shape flat sheet metal or thick square metal rods into something functional.      I will no longer just sit down and hand raise a copper bowl unless it is a special order, or just for the heck of it.   Same with taking a 1" thick copper rod and hot-forging it into a spoon or knife.   The last time I hammered a 1/2" thick sterling rod was a long time ago, and I got to use a power hammer ( which gave me a migraine, but worth it) and I loved it.   Of course, I still have that hunk of silver rod, with a flat spoon-bowlish shape, but haven't done more with it.

This year, I was thinking, why is this obsession with purses and handbags?   Maybe I am a tomboy, but I really don't get this love for purses.  Granted, my handbag is a battered felt bag given to me but people loves it.    I throw everything into it and clean out occasionally.   Now, I was thinking, rather than make yet another lovely bowl that no one will spend $500 on it, I thought I would transform the humble vessel form into a purse.  That becomes functional, and in a form that women can relate to.   Therefore, Intermezzo Purse was born.   I made a sculptural purse frame out of nickel wire, which is tough, durable and ideal for sculptural forms, and then using silverplated wire, bronze and nickel bezel strip to weave into the purse form to give it detail.

I spent a half year thinking of the hinge mechanism for the purse cover and the solution came to me in one afternoon.  A pivot hinge - so simple, so elegant and works perfectly.  Now, I've got the urge to make more purse forms and use other textile techniques to enclose the purse body.    I am thinking of wool felt, knitted wire and more.  

This purse, Intermezzo, as I called it, was on display in CraftWear at the Sunapee fair, and now is in Penn, for Art Ability exhibit, opening in Nov.   The bracelet is new - "Black Moons" , Argentium sterling knitted, sterling, and onyx/quartz druzy, with black spinels and green amythests as accents.  It is on display at the new League of NH Craftsmen HQ on 49 S. Main St, Concord, NH as part of "Setting the Standards", featuring the work of the League jurors.   I wear many heads, and I am Metals juror, serving on Standards Committee, Curriculm committee and on Board of Trustees for the League of NH Craftsmen.   I have my hands full.   I really don't get to spend much time at my workbench anymore.

Leave a Comment