Monday 8 July 2024

Sustainable Practice: Recycling Silver with Elisavet Messi


 Today I was up early to catch the train to London, but I wasn't going into the office, I was visiting The Goldsmiths Centre to learn how to recycle all my offcuts of silver.

I really wasn't sure what to expect, but I arrived a little early which gave me a chance to look at the beautiful student work in the foyer. Wow!  


At 09:30 me and another lady were met and taken to the classroom we'd be using.  It's an amazing building and we walked past several classrooms, all very well equiped.  In our classroom we met Elisavet who talked us through what we'd be doing.

First we had a chat about the sustainable and ethical reasons why we'd want to recycle our offcuts, before going through the process.


First we had to set up our crucible by enameling it with borax.  This involved heating it up and melting the borax powder so it ran over the surface of our crucible, meaning our silver wouldn't stick to it later.  You only have to do this the once, then you're set for the life of the crucible.


Next we weight out our silver (13g), put it in our crucible and melted it.  Sounds easy, but it took a little bit of skill to get the flame the right distance away to get the metal hot enough.  Once liquid we poured it into a mold.  We'd made a tiny ingot!

Once it had been pickled we could start to shape it using the rolling mill.  I wanted to make wire with mine.  You can only pass it through 3 or 4 times before you have to anneal and pickle it again otherwise it will probably crack, so I didn't have time to finish it, but I will take it to class with me, I'm sure I can finish it there.


It was a great morning, and wonderful to finally do something with all the offcuts I've been hoarding without really knowing what to do with them.  Elisavent was so knowledgable and happy to share, I really feel this is something I could do again on my own now.

I then went on to the V&A to have a look at their glass display.  A nice way to spend a couple of hours on a damp afternoon, before heading home.

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