How I created “Spirit” – My Up-cycled Silverware Deer Sculpture

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This is a follow up to my  blog post  last month, on what inspired me to make Spirit, my up-cycled silverware deer sculpture.

I just thought it might be interesting to share with you how this sculpture came together and the individual parts that went into making the whole.

As so often happens, this piece lived in my head for quite sometime (about a year) before I actually took the first steps to bring it to life. Several factors can determine when I will start a work that I’ve been incubating. I am not someone who works well sporadically, so once I have a vision for a sculpture I need to find a stretch of time that I can dedicate to it.

It is only when I find that window of time that I will begin. The first step is to find the “right” silver hollowware pieces to form a sculpture base or armature.

I had this amazing, antique silver teapot in my collection. Not only was it a gorgeously ornate piece, but I thought it was particularly special to have the year (1892) engraved onto it’s side. I decided it was the perfect size and shape for me to use as the neck of the deer. This teapot, anchored to a shallow, silver serving dish I had, would make up the base of the sculpture.

A gravy boat would form the top of the head/forhead, a silver goblet would be used as the snout, and two, identical pie lifters would be used as ears. I attached the ears onto the head with two candle holder sockets. I secured all the pieces together by drilling holes into them, carefully lining them up and riveting them into place. 

I honestly feel that once I am finished with the construction of the armature of a sculpture, that much of the hard work is already done. I always prefer working on the details. That’s the stage when I feel as though I’m giving life to a piece. The initial construction phase is, of course, necessary……but sometimes it feels a bit laborious and boring to me.  😉

The next step was trying to wrap my head around how I was going to create and attach antlers to the head. I struggled a bit with the logistics, as well as how I was going to achieve the look that I had envisioned. I began looking through my storage cabinet and my boxes of silverware to see what I could find.

I found this interesting bud vase and thought I might be able to use the pieces as a base for the antlers. After a little playing around and some trial and error, I decided I could make it work. I used the arms of a candelabra and a sugar dish to build out the antlers, I also added the spouts from two more teapots. I then soldered all the parts together and twisted fork and spoon handles around the pieces. Adding the twisted handles blended all of the pieces together, concealing any joints, and gave the antlers a more whimsical feel. I both riveted and soldered the antlers to the head for extra strength.

I found a beautiful silver serving dish in my collection and envisioned it as the perfect transition piece to blend the antlers into the forehead. The detailing around the fringe of the dish would add an almost crown-like effect to the head. I cut out the shape I needed and then formed it with my rawhide mallet. This was tricky, but I’m so happy with how it turned out!

At this stage I was close to being finished. All that was left to create were the eyes, nose, and perhaps a few finishing touches.

I created each eye from a tablespoon cut down the centre, the top half creating the lid and the bottom half the eyeball. I cut the irises from two more tablespoons and then added some wire to finish them off. Before soldering the eyes onto the piece, I built out the face a little more with a couple more tablespoons. Once the eyes were in place, I also added some pretty, filagree detailing from another hollowware piece.

I experimented with a few different noses before I settled on the one I liked best.

I added a few last finishing touches and Spirit was complete!

Spirit

From start to finish he took about a month and a half to finish, although he was in the planning/visioning stages for at least a year before I began to actually, physically work on him.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how the piece came together, and seeing the pictures, of how he came to be….piece by piece! XO

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Showing 3 comments
  • sherrie maddick
    Reply

    That is amazing, very majestic! Loved how you showed each step, and the all the thinking behind what you do.

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