TIPTON — A mother and daughter team is working together to create artistic jewelry, making antique silverware contemporary with the twist of a tine.
Sarah Smith and her mother, Debbie Smith, owners of The SilverSmith’s Design Co., have a small shop along U.S. Route 50 near Tipton, which is open one weekend a month.
Smith’s mother was a school nurse for the Tipton R-VI School District until she saw a piece of silver jewelry in 2011, which opened a door to silversmithing.
“A friend gave her a silverware bracelet for her birthday one year,” she said. “Mom’s extremely crafty, she can make anything. So, she decided she was going to make her own bracelets out of our own silverware.”
Those pieces were given as gifts to family in Tipton. Afterward, residents in Tipton began to inquire if they could purchase the jewelry.
“So, it kind of just blew up from there,” Smith said.
She joined her mother two years ago and silversmithing has become a full-time job.
“It’s a struggle at times because it’s not always steady, but I love it,” she noted. “It’s very creative and it allows for that artsy, creative aspect that I absolutely love.”
The shop has been open for two years and carries an assortment of handcrafted silver jewelry from octopus pendants made with tines of silver forks to artsy rings, earrings and bracelets enhanced with precious stones.
The process of creating a piece is more complex than just twisting the silverware. The work is created with a cold bend process. Smith said they found heating the silver can cause an unattractive discoloration to the metal.
“We try to create in bulk … not just one item at a time,” she added.
If the women are making a ring, the silver must be measured for the ring size. Then it’s buffed and polished, cut, and processed using a steel mandrel. For octopus necklaces, the women cold bend the silver.
Smith said her mother places the fork in a vice and uses a small pipe slipped over the tines to bend them.
“Then, she takes needle-nose pliers and manually curls them by hand,” she added. “So, each curl turns out differently. None of the pieces will ever be the same because they all curl differently.”
The duo also uses a drill and a jewelry saw in creating their pieces and some pieces are hammered to create texture.
The women hire buyers Marilyn Roberson and Diane Bennett-Wolf, both of Sedalia, to scout out vintage silverware that can be used to make jewelry. Pieces are made with silver plate as well as sterling silver.
“Sometimes actually the silver plate is better because it’s a hardier, thicker silver,” Smith explained. “But, it is solid silver over silver alloy.”
When she isn’t working at her day-job silversmithing, she enjoys painting with watercolor and acrylic in her spare time. A new participant in the Sedalia NoBro Art Walk, Smith exhibited for the first time in June.
Besides painting on traditional paper or canvas she has started painting landscapes on wood, which she seals with resin. These pieces and others will be shown in future exhibits hosted by NoBro.
The SilverSmith’s Design Co., 11271 U.S. Route 50 near Tipton, is open the first Friday and Saturday of the month. In August, the shop will be open two weekends: from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 3 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 9 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 10. For more information, call Smith at 573-230-3658 or visit www.Facebook.com/TheSilverSmiths.