Silversmith Grant Macdonald’s workshop is one of London’s hidden secrets. Nearly all his commissioned work arrives by word-of-mouth recommendation, and over the years he has worked for City of London livery companies, royal palaces and discerning private individuals alike. A “can do” attitude married to skilled craftsmanship and forensic attention to detail is the reason his bespoke gold- and silverwork is in such demand. “Just about anything is possible,” he says.
“Most people think of silversmithing as an old-school activity,” he adds. “Yet I try to incorporate new technology with traditional craftsmanship to create one-of-a-kind pieces.” The complex shape of his Gemini bowl (£49,950), for example, starts out as a 3D-printed resin prototype before being hand-fabricated in silver. Weighing 3kg, this handsome silver bowl has very contemporary, pierced decoration and takes 150 hours to create. “It really pushes the edges of design,” says Macdonald. Similarly, the handles of individually designed paper-knives (about £500 each, first picture) employ 3D-printing during their creation. “You still need handcraftsmanship to turn them into something beautiful as there are a huge number of processes involved,” says Macdonald. “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, second picture) for one client, 1.4m in length and with a crafted silver base. Another requested a similar bowl with a red, handstitched, calfskin “cushion” between the silver and glass elements to co-ordinate with a table in his home. More unusual commissions have included a set of six vodka-shot glasses (£7,000, third picture) that sit in a special stand; the 24ct-gold-plated stems are decorated with lapis lazuli stones, which add a particularly luxurious touch.
Models of cars, boats and small aircraft are frequent requests. One client ordered an Aston Martin sculpture (around £52,000). “It weighed 6kg in fine silver,” says Macdonald. “What I really enjoyed about the commission was achieving total accuracy by following drawings I obtained from the car manufacturer.” It was a similar story with a replica Arabian dhow that required extensive research into rigging and decking (similar designs, about £80,000). “Being made of silver, clients know the piece will last forever, and it makes them smile if you go the extra mile,” says Macdonald.