In art, there are many types of craft processes which are used in order to create an object manually, which makes the pieces created unique. This is one of the oldest ways of creating artistic pieces and as part of this group we can find goldsmithing , an art form used to create decorative objects using metals such as gold and silver and their alloys.
What is goldsmithing?
Goldsmithing is the art by means of which artists have the ability to create objects for decoration using a series of different precious metals or their alloys , mainly gold and silver.
Goldsmithing is one of the many ways that exist by means of which you can create decorative artistic pieces using your hands . A technique that consists of carving different objects using materials such as gold , silver , other precious metals and their alloys . It is also considered as the most important and ancient art that has been developed by man.
Among the main characteristics of goldsmithing, the following are mentioned:
- It is a job that is done completely manually .
- The word comes from Latin , from the words ” aurum ” which means gold and from ” faber ” which has the meaning of craftsmanship.
- The person who performs this type of art is known by the name of a goldsmith .
- The technique uses a number of craft processes , techniques, and special tools .
- With it you can make sculptures , jewelry and utensils in general .
- It is located within the branch of plastic arts .
- It is a type of art widely used within the Catholic religion to make accessories and works of art related to the religion.
Its history is quite old, in fact there is some evidence that the technique was practiced even in prehistory during the Neolithic period where the inhabitants of the time made pieces of copper, bronze and gold. The first true record of goldsmithing was found in the Varna Necropolis , in an archaeological site located in Bulgaria . This record dates from the Chalcolithic period and bracelets and necklaces were found.
In the Ancient Ages , it was widely used by cultures such as Egyptian, Phoenician, Pre-Hellenic and Classical and during the Middle Ages , the technique reached many more cultures. The Renaissance was a movement that contributed significantly to the development of goldsmithing, increasing the number of styles and designs that could be used with it, which also are an important part of the bases that can be observed today.
It is also important to emphasize that the history of goldsmithing in its beginnings was closely related to theistic, atheistic and pagan religion , with astrology and the cosmos . Little by little, art made its way among the different social classes, completely changing the perspective and becoming part of the art that we can observe today in practically the whole world.
Among the types of goldsmith the following are mentioned:
Hammer and fire
This technique uses blows on slabs using hammers of different shapes and materials depending on the type of alloy that is intended to work. When the material is struck, it tends to become brittle and fracture, the goldsmiths then heated it red hot and immersed it in water. Later it is polished to obtain uniform surfaces .
The artist places the design on the back of the sheet and then, using chisels and embossers , press and highlight the motif to be made.
It is made when platinum granules are heated and then mixed with gold , which melts, trapping the platinum, producing a material that can be worked with a hammer.
Hammered sheets were used assembled by means of wires or nails to later emboss them and join them together.
To be able to carry out goldsmithing, a series of basic tools are needed, among which we can mention pliers , magnifying visors , metal stamps , files of all kinds of thickness, hammers of different sizes, workbench , a flexible shaft, a polished one, wire cutters, mandrels, metal rulers and gauges. It is also important to have a suitable soldering fluid , small brushes, and pickling acid.
The main materials used to work in goldsmithing are gold , silver , precious metals and all the possible alloys that can be obtained from them.
There are several techniques that can be used to make jewelry, some of them are mentioned below:
- Stitching : this technique is done using a chisel and is worked from the back of the sheet to achieve dot-based designs.
- Stamping : it is done by pressing a metal punch on the back of the sheet with a hammer to obtain the desired drawing.
- Tucked and drawn : a blunt-tipped brush is used to avoid cuts in the sheet or you can use punches that can bend the metal defining the cracks.
- Incised decoration : it is done by incising a burin on a piece using a fixed support that can support the object.
- Granulate : small gold granules are welded on a surface to give life to different types of motifs.
- Filigree : they are decoration schemes that are made with threads which are welded to a sheet.
- Melting of the raw material : this process consists of preparing the material by means of casting in order to be able to eliminate all types of impurities , later, the result is placed in a container so that it can be melted.
- Hammered and beaten : after the metal is separated from the container that contains it, a type of hammering is carried out . In order to do this, it is necessary to place some flexible material between the metal and the tool used for the process. This technique seeks to change the hardness and ductility of the material.
- Cutting and finishing : the material used can be cut very easily, first marking the line where the incision is to be made . This technique should preferably be carried out on the external face of the piece and then proceed to sand polishing.
With this technique many types of decorative objects can be made such as rings, chains, earrings, bracelets, tiaras, lanterns, candelabra, crosses, ornaments for images of saints and can even make religious figures and emblematic objects of the Catholic religion such as the chalice.
Metalwork of the Chimú culture
The Chimú culture excelled in the use of goldsmithing thanks to its fine and well-elaborated works. They mainly used embossing and hammering and worked with materials that included gold and silver , as well as various alloys made by them. They made earmuffs , glasses and above all, funeral masks.
The Visigoths were fond of working with gold and developed many pieces that they used for decoration in addition to jewelry and crowns . They also used the technique to make liturgical objects , crosses and mixed religion with the power of the monarchy.
The Byzantines inherited the goldsmithing of the Romans and also implemented new techniques influenced by the Middle Ages and mainly used wire to join the gems together, a technique that is known today to make rosaries. They used openwork , embossing , engraving , filigree and alveolado.
It began during pre- Hispanic times and mainly silver jewelry had a lot of relevance among the Mapuche community creating different shapes and styles. They used the coins to melt and hammer them to later make different jewelry for women. It was seen as a status symbol in the town.
The Phoenicians made many types of jewelry to be more industrial and commercial and combined their own drawings with those of the East. They used materials such as gold, silver, and bronze.
In Greece, goldsmithing had an important state of prosperity and they strove to create perfect pieces. They used embossing , chiselling and filigree to create their designs and gave importance to the use of granules using gold pearls.
Goldsmithing has been an important type of art since ancient times as it has been one of the ways that ancient peoples had to express their art . It has been part of traditions and customs that have been maintained to this day. It is one of the most important methods for making jewelry and ornaments in houses, buildings and churches.