I recently made a custom-ordered football that was going as a gift
to a Green Bay Packers fan. I documented a bit of the process for the person
receiving the gift, and thought I'd share a few pics and descriptions here as
well. What looks like a simple piece of metal actually takes fire power,
hammering, and strategy to turn out as intended.
Here are some intermediate steps and pictures to go with them to
describe the creation of the hammered football. The charm is 5/8" long.
The beginning is a fused ball of pure silver that I form using a torch. In this
case, the ball is metal I coaxed into taking a football-ish shape. The picture
is taken when the silver was red hot, right after I hit temperature and the metal pulled in where I wanted to start. (Let's call this the kick-off.)
(2) After the metal cools, I do some simple filing to
get any sharp edges or burrs off and I start hammering. Itâ€™s a lot of small
even hammer strokes to work the metal into shape. I reheat along the way with
the torch to soften the metal, which for this charm I did about four times
during the process. I also file and sand to keep the outline.
(3) Once the initial shaping and sanding is done, I
added the scoring for the seams on the ends and hand-stamped the letters. I also added the hole on one end for attachment. Then
I sand again to get a nice even finish. This pic is after the charm spent two
hours in the tumbler with stainless steel shot to strengthen and polish.
To bring out the recesses, I use a solution to add an antiqued effect or patina. For this example, I decided to add a more satin texture on the ends. I kept layering the
patina and buffing it back off to get to an aged look. To finish, I applied two coats of protective wax and added a handmade sterling jump ring so
this can go on a key ring.Â
This process is drastically different from
a machine cutting out a shape from a piece of sheet sterling, or even me
cutting out a shape from sheet. That is a perfectly fine process--but has
different materials, steps, and results.Â
Which method I use depends on the
texture desired. Fused and hammered charms have
contours and a landscape. They are a little thicker in the middle and take
whatever tapering and hammer marks I decide I want them to have. For a uniform thickness and smooth surface, cutting or sawing from silver sheet or other metal would produce the more uniform result. But to my eye, the character on these hand-hammered charms is rich and interesting. Plus they have a bit of my style in the hammer pattern!