Paul Savage on Making the Botanicals Beaker
This week we met with Paul Savage, one of nineteen makers working on a unique silver beaker for upcoming Goldsmiths’ exhibition, Made for the Table. Paul has over 14 years’ experience as a silversmith and is one half of creative duo RockPAUL, a bespoke jewellery and silverware company based at the Centre.
What inspired you to become a silversmith?
I wanted to follow a creative and practical career path as opposed to one that was office-based, and I’ve always been interested in craft and applied skills; be it woodwork, ceramics or metal work. I stumbled across some silversmithing, jewellery and allied trade courses while I was at school, and though I didn’t take them up that gave me the idea to start an apprenticeship with Clive Burr, and there I found that I enjoyed hand-skills, working with metals and fine precision.
Would you say that you have a particular design style?
Simple, clean-cut, with an emphasis on the functional. Though we (RockPAUL) always incorporate finer details to make a piece look attractive, we tend to put functionality first, and try to keep things simple but high quality.
The simpler something is, the less margin there is to hide mistakes - every step of the making process has to be done well, so it means you’re constantly striving for perfection. This applies to the beaker for Made for the Table, which incorporates a lot of classic skills like spinning, chasing and stone setting.
When a client commissions a piece, how much of a collaboration is the creative process?
When a client wants something specific, if it’s technically possible for it to be made and made well, and if the budget is appropriate, then we can create it exactly as asked. If we foresee problems in making the design come to life, then we can provide feedback to the client and use our technical and practical skills to make adaptations and create something that’s both unique and to their specification.
What’s your favourite thing about being a maker?
Seeing work come to life. From a client coming to you with a design idea, and taking them through every step of the creative process, like choosing stones, to creating that piece and handing it over - there’s something extremely satisfying about that.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring makers?
Patience! If you want to work at the top end of the trade, you need to be able to produce pieces that are of high quality and that’s not something you’ll be able to do overnight. Always strive to do better, always put maximum effort into the details, and always think three steps ahead of yourself. Don’t get so wrapped up in one stage that you can’t see the next.
Do you ever stop learning?
You never stop learning, and you should never for one-minute think you know everything as there are always new techniques to try out. You can take on a brief that’s never been done before and spend hours thinking about how you’re going to create it. From these opportunities is where you learn the most.
What are you most looking forward to about Made for the Table?
Seeing the other beakers, the broad range of designs and skills on offer and the interesting places makers have taken their briefs.