Material and Medium: copper
Dimensions: Overall: 30 x 170mm (1 3/16 x 6 11/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 2007.87
This object was made in 1993 by the designer silversmith, Alex Brogden. It was the master pattern for an edition of twenty five gilded silver bowls commissioned by Bulgari in New York. They were commissioned by Mr Nicola Bulgari after he saw a large bowl of this design that had been created by Alex for the collection of The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths'.
In the artist's words, "The inspiration for this piece was a fascination with natural geometry, landscape formation and erosion. Abstraction of natural forms is at the core of most of my work".
The bowl is double skinned, meaning that it has been created from two pieces of copper (an upper and lower skin) that have been soldered together at the edge to form the finished object. The lower skin (or under bowl) has been hand raised. This is a traditional handcraft technique involving the use of a raising hammer to form a hollow shape from a flat piece of metal.
The fluted top surface is an electroform taken from the surface of a fluted wax carving. Electroforming is a process similar to electroplating that is used to create objects from metal. The technique was patented in 1840 by George and Henry Elkington, who had also developed the electroplating process.
In order to produce an electrotype, a mould made from an existing object using wax or silicon rubber. Graphite or powdered metal is added to the mould to make it conductive. In the past, moulds tended to be made from plaster or gutta percha (a natural plastic). The mould is then placed into a plating tank and the metal is deposited onto the mould. The mould remains in the plating tank until the deposit is of a sufficient thickness. The mould is then removed, leaving behind the metal object.
The electroforming process takes much longer than electroplating. In electroplating, the deposit of silver only needs to cover the surface of the object made from a base metal (usually nickel) to give it the appearance of solid silver. However, electroformed objects are built up entirely from electro-deposited metal, which takes a great deal of time.
Find out more…
Learn about other techniques and materials used to create metalwork objects:
Trench, L. 2000 Materials & Techniques in the Decorative Arts. An Illustrated Dictionary. London: John Murray.