Sunday, January 18, 2009

The True Meaning of Hallmark

I've been asked by someone in the silver clay community if Hallmark is really my name. Yes, I was born with it, changed it once in a first marriage, had to petition a judge to change it back, and vowed to keep it after that. I've always wondered if there were silversmiths back in the ancestors somewhere, since a hallmark is a maker's mark on sterling silver. 

For years I've used a simple superposition of my initials, VMH, as my hallmark. I like that it's symmetric, being that I'm a Libra and into balance. This is very useful when I stitch it onto double-sided quilts -- it reads the same from both sides. 

In my most complex electroforming, I've been inserting a cutout of the hallmark into the design.

For silver clay, I made a photopolymer plate of a printout of the hallmark above. I cut out tiny squares 2 cards thick to place on the back of my more involved silver clay pieces. 

One of the things I most wanted to learn last spring in my Loren Stump workshop was how to make signature cane. Initials were what we learned to do, but I came home and made hallmark cane first thing. It took a bit of thinking to plan out the steps to build up the cane properly. Essentially, I built a 1" x 1" x 2" solid block logo, then pulled that out to 3/8" diameter cane. Then I put it in a drawer and forgot it. 

Recently, I decided that I should really use it, so I practiced preheating a section in the kiln and pulling it down to about 1/8" diameter. I didn't do a very nice job of building the black box around the initials, but now I know to be more careful next time. I will use small slices of this, nipped off, to hallmark my beads.

How do you mark your work?