You may have observed on our website that a wide range of items can be seen to have a planished finish.
The word planished is taken from the Latin word ‘Planus’ which translates roughly as ‘flat’. This word is accurate in its definition as it describes the process of finishing a piece by shaping sheet metal; once you understand the process a planished item can be easily identified and understood due to the nature of the subtly ornamental finish. A piece can be shaped and contoured to the desired formation through the use of a hammer and a planishing stake.
The dimpled effect from the hammer can be an implication that the silversmith has used too much force with each hammer blow, however the development of silverware through the centuries allowed this to be a highly desirable appearance; this dimpled style became very popular within the Arts and Crafts movement. Through photography the purposeful planished silver finish can be hard to capture, however these preserve spoon bowls show the true beauty on their incurvated surfaces.
Before today I will admit if you asked me to define “planished” I would have merely said the effect left on a piece of metalwork which offers the perception of a smooth piece being hit with a hammer repetitively. Now I understand I was only half correct in my assumption, the 18th century pieces I have the pleasure to observe which occupy a subtle ‘wavey’ finish will be planished and that is what allows them to have an almost under-water look; all the characteristics I admire are from the planishing process. After some research I can fascinated by the way in which items can be made – the phrase hand raised and hand-made have never meant so much as they do to me right now.
With my passion for learning more about this planished silver hammering process I have browsed the internet and come across a video which I feel shows the essence of hammering a flat item into shape; this video has no audio other than the backing music and allows the viewer to watch an 18th century tumbler be made from start to finish.
After watching this video it provides me with more drive than ever to find a workshop I am able to participate in – I feel I may be a silversmith’s apprentice in the making.
Please browse our collection of planished silver.
Rachel O'Keefe-Coulson – Multimedia Executive
Rachel O'Keefe is our 'silver lady' spending her days handling silverware and processing these items for the AC Silver website. Amazingly, Rachel’s favourite items of silverware are spoons, for which she has developed a true affinity.