Modern master silversmiths making a mark

These masters of their craft bring silver, in all its forms, right up to date

Shona Marsh polished sugar bowls and milk jugs, set on a silver-inlaid sapele-wood plinth, £2,300
Shona Marsh polished sugar bowls and milk jugs, set on a silver-inlaid sapele-wood plinth, £2,300

Singular tea services A shift that has seen patrons buying silverware for daily domestic pleasure has revealed a particular enthusiasm for artefacts associated with tea making. The range of teapot designs that patrons are ordering run from the classic to the funky. Adrian Hope, who created the silver cutlery for Bute House (the Edinburgh residence of Scotland’s first minister), is a virtuoso at combining elegant shape and tactile surface in simple forms that allow the beauty of the material to sing. “I’ve made more teapots [from around £4,000] than anything else,” he says. “People enjoy them because they’re something they can use every day.” Meanwhile, Shona Marsh, a designer of stylish, informal tableware, numbers among her bestsellers plain, polished sugar bowls and milk jugs, set on a silver-inlaid sapele-wood plinth (£2,300). Adrian Hope, adrianhope.co.uk. Shona Marsh, shonamarsh.com. KATRINA BURROUGHS

Alex Ramsay sculptural bowls, from about £1,500
Alex Ramsay sculptural bowls, from about £1,500
Advertisement

Curious contrasts Alex Ramsay is a silversmith with a passion for hand-blown glass. The idea of combining the two materials might have come about for rather prosaic reasons – using glass meant that she could make larger pieces without needing huge amounts of silver – but the results are pure poetry. Ramsay’s work ranges from bespoke jewellery to architectural wall pieces, but it was her Nitrate Negative series that really got her noticed. Inspired by the beautiful colours of silver nitrate photography and consisting of double-skinned silver objects decorated with lace-like cutaway patters (which she makes by hand-piercing the silver) and corresponding pieces in blown glass, this collection plays on the contrasts between the two materials to explore ideas of reflection and shadow. It may be a series, but each piece is unique and made to commission. “The work is always very personal,” Ramsay says. “The patterns, for example, are often a response to a place that has meaning to the client – so the making process is always a collaboration.” And while her portfolio consists mainly of sculptural bowls (from about £1,500) and more functional vessels, including salt and pepper pots and spoons, she will consider pretty much any commission – so long as it’s a challenge. 07939-203 929. CHARLOTTE ABRAHAMS

Grant Macdonald individually designed paper-knives, about £500
Grant Macdonald individually designed paper-knives, about £500
Claire Malet Eroded bowls, from £750
Claire Malet Eroded bowls, from £750

Handcraft-meets-high-tech Over the years, London-based silversmith Grant Macdonald has worked for City of London livery companies, royal palaces and discerning private individuals alike. Skilled craftsmanship and forensic attention to detail are the reasons his bespoke silverwork is in such demand. “Just about anything is possible,” he says. “I incorporate new technology with traditional craftsmanship to create one-of-a-kind pieces.” The handles of individually designed paper-knives (about £500) employ 3D-printing during their creation. “You still need handcraftsmanship to turn them into something beautiful; the blades are handcrafted and elements like crests, coats of arms and engraving are all handworked.” A collaboration with a glass artist in Murano resulted in a magnificent oval bowl (£22,500) for one client, 1.4m in length and with a crafted silver base. A more unusual commission was a set of six vodka-shot glasses (£7,000) that sit in a special stand; the 24ct-gold-plated stems are decorated with lapis lazuli stones. “As the pieces are made of silver, clients know they will last forever, and it makes them smile if you go the extra mile,” he says. grantmacdonald.comNICOLE SWENGLEY

Thomas Lyte sculptural vases, from £595
Thomas Lyte sculptural vases, from £595
Ryan McClean Brain Coral bowls, from £3,000
Ryan McClean Brain Coral bowls, from £3,000

Eco-glam vessels Part of the new eco-glam trend transforming interior design, these beautiful Eroded Bowls (from £750) by metal artist and silversmith Claire Malet are made from discarded metal cans. Inspired by erosion and decay in the natural world, each piece is heated and reformed before being cut by hand tools and gilded with gold leaf. It is a time-consuming process – a medium Eroded Vessel takes about 25 hours to make – but by the time Malet is done, the only sign of the bowl’s humble origin (Heinz Beanz tins are among her favourite source materials) is the seam around the bottom. clairemalet.com. CHARLOTTE ABRAHAMS

Advertisement

“Trophy” objets and accessories There can be no greater recommendation for a silversmith such as Thomas Lyte than the fact that its commissions grace the homes of heads of state (including royal palaces in the Middle East), superyachts and sporting arenas around the world. The company is a labour of love for CEO Kevin Baker, who bought an ailing East End silver workshop in 2007 and reinvigorated its traditional English trade using cutting-edge design and state-of-the-art technology. With its highly skilled team of polishers, crimmerers and wellsmen overseen by master silversmith Kevin Williams, Thomas Lyte can conceive and create a piece – whether spectacular silver chalices and trophies or traditional tea services – from a simple initial sketch. Those not in the market for a Ryder Cup (which the company looks after) can find inspiration in a range such as the exquisite Spitfire collection, which includes sculptural vases (from £2,995), jugs (£3,250) and cocktail shakers (£2,595) – all can be ordered in various sizes and finishes. Bespoke commissions typically take between two and four months to complete. In addition to larger objets d’art, Thomas Lyte offers accessories – cufflinks (from £90) and engraved compacts (from £30). thomaslyte.com. CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS

Avant-garde art These days, when it comes to silverware, shapes and textures are limited only by the imagination of their makers. Ryan McClean is a silversmith who lists among his influences “the cells inside a beehive, fluid dynamics and [a volume entitled] Self-Organization in Biological Systems”. His Brain Coral bowls (from £3,000), for example, three of which he made for Cameron Mackintosh, are deeply etched silver vessels that mimic the texture of brain coral. ryanmccleansilver.co.ukKATRINA BURROUGHS

Advertisement
Loading