A few years ago we had cycled back to modern history, which we are actually about to do again next year, now that I think about it. Jeff and I had consulted and decided since we were about to study Colonial America again, why not go to Colonial Williamsburg as part of our history lessons. In preparation, I taught the kids about as many of the colonial trades as they would see before we went there, and made a set of Historical Trades and Jobs for the kids to take notes as we talked to each person. This is our silversmith history lesson as we made our own silver plate**.
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** it’s not at all a real silver plate, but it was a fun craft for our silversmith history lesson.
Supplies for this silversmith history lesson
paper plate, glue gun, glue gun sticks, aluminum foil, glue, paintbrush, marker, Some point in the future colonial notebooking pages
Other possible things to use with it: Time Traveler Colonial Life, All American History volume 1
Some background for the Silversmith History lesson
Some cool things we found out when we visited Colonial Williamsburg:
- The silversmith’s floor was made up of a grid to make it easier to reclaim any silver shavings that might fall to the floor.
- Many of the skills of the different smiths are transferrable, but a silversmith is just an extreme specialization of a blacksmith. In large towns like London, people would even specialize even further into specific types of things.
- Smiths would make their own tools, and many of a silversmith’s tools were the same as a blacksmith, just smaller because they were working in a much finer degree of work.
As a side note as I was trying to look up videos on YouTube for this silversmithing history lesson, I learned some interesting things:
- There are a surprisingly large numbers of “how to silversmith” videos. I wasn’t expecting that.
- It was kind of cool to see the large number of Navajo craftsmen with cool videos to watch.
- There are a lot of people attempting to do historical silversmithing.
Creating our Silversmith project
First, draw out a simple geometric design on your paper plate. If you are confident in your skills, you can, of course, make a complex design, but you are going to be tracing over this with a hot glue gun, so keep it simple.
Using the hot glue gun trace over the design you’ve drawn. You don’t actually have to draw out the design first, I’m pretty sure the boys didn’t, but it works so much better if you draw out your design first and then trace over the drawing with the hot glue gun.
If you have younger kids and don’t trust them with a hot glue gun for this silversmith history lesson, then you can achieve the same results by drawing it with a bottle of glue, but that means allowing several hours for the glue to dry, and you won’t necessarily get as much of an obvious ridge.
Now, paint over the plate with glue. We poured our glue into little condiment cups, which I’ll admit I bought entirely for use with crafts. I also have paint brushes for use with glue, these aren’t my paintbrushes set aside for art lessons.
Carefully smooth the aluminum foil over your plate, and try to keep it as smooth as possible. The more wrinkled your aluminum foil gets, the less realistic it is going to look. Once the foil is smoothed over the glue, then flip your plate over and spread more glue over it and smooth the aluminum foil over the glue you’ve just painted on.
And that’s it, you’ve now created your own “silver plate.” It’s a fun and simple project to do with your kids, and a quick and simple silversmith history lesson.
natalie planetsmartypants says
That reminded me a little of my childhood when metal embossing was for some reason quite popular. We had thin sheets of metal where one would first sketch an image and then use special mallets to create a raised surface. I was never good at it but professional crafters could produce amazing decorations with that.