*formerly referred to under the working tittle TransForming Treasures. I’m trying out different tittles as the project evolves to see which one resonates best with me – as of now I think Silverware: Remade describes the core of my project in a simpler more transparent fashion. And I’m all for keeping it simple & transparent.
The Story behind Project Silverware:Remade
The short version in two bullets:
- I believe in green, sustainable & eco-friendly products
- I believe it is my responsibility as a maker (and a designer) to do the best I can to make my products green, sustainable and eco-friendly.
The responsible maker
It’s very well we want eco-friendly, faitrade and organic products, but if nobody is designing and producing them… there’s no way for you to get them either.
So the way I see it is, it starts with the designer and her vision.
Designers and makers are the ones who create new products, they either look for demands and trends or get inspired and use their creative genius to create something new.
The designers place a demand with the manufacturers, for example to find eco-friendly silver to make their line of jewellery. Then the product is made and only then is it possible for the consumer to buy it.
I’m aware that the process isn’t always quite that simple, but in principle, that’s what happens, that’s how it starts.
So, if I didn’t make ‘green’ a part of my mission, part of my process and products, you wouldn’t have the chance to ‘vote with your money’ so to speak. I, as a maker & designer, have to present that choice to you. If I didn’t it would be unfair, and I would be robbing you of the choice. It’s my responsibility to do everything I can to give you that choice.
Actually it’s a bit miss-guiding, because silver doesn’t really go green, that’s copper, but it made a nicer headline for this section than: the process of silver manufacturing.
There are two ways to make silver – recycling old silver, or mining new.
It’s always been possible to get the local goldsmith to melt your silver jewellery and cast it into a new piece. The same with gold.
But when it comes to silverware – ei larger pieces of silver tableware, such as decanters, vases, trays, jugs, bowls and cutlery – the local craftsmen doesn’t have the equipment to handle large amounts like that. So it’s sold as scrap to the bullion manufacturers, who then handles the recycling.
As far as I’m informed by my silver stockist, the silver sheet, wire, tube and rod they sell for jewellery and silverware production, is in most parts made from recycled silver scrap from the silver & jewellery industry. It’s melted and refined (which means the different metals are separated) and then made into new sheet, wire and tube. Only a small percentage of new silver is added.
By new silver I mean mined silver – and here’s the scary thing: It’s the mining of new silver and gold that is bad for our environment.
“For every ring of gold, there are roughly 20 tons of toxic wastes being generated. And the toxic substances used in the process of mining the gold like mercury and cyanide pollutes both the air we breathe and the water we drink. In fact, gold mining is the number one source of mercury pollution.”
– source: greenaxchange.cc
Fortunately bullion dealers are doing something about it. It is now possible to get certified ‘eco-silver’, but as I’m writing this, it’s still more expensive.
But all in all, the silver industry is very good at recycling, and always has been.
What I’m trying to do with this new project Silverware:Remade is to take it a step further and cut out the middle man, plus the refining process, which includes electrolytic baths with, not so healthy, nitric acid. (disclaimer – I’m not a chemist and know little about the chemical process of refining silver, apart from what I’ve been able to google)
I’m remaking old silver into new pieces, giving it new form and function. It’s a sustainable alternative to recycling the material. Every piece is handmade, it’s just me in my workshop.
Silverware:Remade also tells a story of the silver, by saving some of the ornaments or form elements. It keeps the emotional value of your inherited family silver, but gives it contemporary feel and function.
The project is officially launched at an exhibition at Galleri Montan in Copenhagen on the 12th March and can be seen until the 4th April.