Small Talk Tag: Silver

Miniature Masterworks: Jens Torp

Jens Torp worked as a goldsmith and jewelry designer before he was introduced to the world of miniatures in 1990. He enjoys researching antique silver and working in miniature to create Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian tea sets, inkstands, and candelabras. He has also incorporated his silver in collaborations with other miniature artists.

Torp is one of more than sixty artists participating in Miniature Masterworks, September 15-17, 2017. He will be giving a gallery talk about his work in the T/m collection and the inspiration behind it on September 17 at 12:30pm.

Miniature Masterworks: Pete Acquisto

Wine Fountain, Pete Acquisto

For Pete Acquisto, making it up as he goes along is part of the job. “Making miniatures is problem solving, and that’s how I view making miniature silver.” Acquisto starting working in his father’s custom woodshop at the age of 14 where he learned how to carve and work with power tools. Five years later, he went into business with a friend selling Indian jewelry. There he learned silversmithing by working with the artisans he hired.

His miniature career actually started on a whim when he made a plate, goblet, and coffee pot for his sister’s friend to take to a fine-scale show. After she came back with a bunch of orders, Acquisto Silver was born. Since then, Acquisto has used techniques from his furniture and jewelry-making days to build a portfolio of over 200 Georgian, Victorian, and Queen Anne silver pieces in 1:12 scale. Acquisto says that engravings and small parts like hinges, feet, and legs are the hardest, but he loves the challenge.

Pete Acquisto is our first “Small Talk” feature of over sixty artists who are participating in Miniature Masterworks, September 15-17, 2017.

A spot of tea, literally!

anchor jensen seattle

Here at T/m we’re continually amazed by the ‘little’ details found in every nook and corner of the Boston Beacon Hill House. This picture of the Paul Revere oval fluted teapot really demonstrates the scale of this ¼” miniature.

Designed and crafted by Seattle jeweler Anchor Jenson, the teapot features engravings, a hollow spout, and hinged lid. Smaller than a pencil eraser, the teapot is accompanied by a sugar and creamer which are comparable in size to grains of rice. Now that’s small! And lest you forget, like other miniatures, this functions exactly like it’s full size counterpart. However, silver is too small to polish, so this one is made out of white gold. A spot of tea anyone?

Come Mold The Menorah

Between 1940 and 1947, silversmith William B. Meyers created two intricate menorahs. Lucky for us, his original plans and molds reside in The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures’s archives and give us insight into his process. Meyers started by sketching out his design.

Next, he created a model of the menorah from his sketches so he could construct a closed rubber mold. A closed mold has two halves that are pressed together. Molten metal is poured through a channel (located at the bottom of Meyers’s mold) to reach the mold cavity where the metal hardens. Once the menorah is removed from the mold, any excess metal would be filed away. We’re very fortunate that William B. Meyers left such a fantastic record of his process!

Come Light the Menorah

Similar to Pete Acquisto, William B. Meyers was a renowned silversmith before becoming one of the preeminent miniature silversmiths of the first half of the twentieth century. He began making miniature silver in the late 1920s in addition to his full-time job as owner of William B. Meyers Company. Sadly, his miniature career ended abruptly in 1947 after the death of his wife Helen when he shifted to exclusively crafting religious sterling hollowware including Kiddush cups and menorahs still used by synagogues across the country.

Luckily for The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, Meyers crafted these two menorahs before ending his miniature career. Our menorahs are the seven-branched candelabrums used in the Jewish Temple to symbolize the seven days of Creation. Menorahs used to celebrate Hanukkah have nine branches. The eight candles in a row represent the eight nights of Hanukkah; the ninth candle set a little above the others, known as the shamash, lights the other candles.