Silver Nuggets

by Susanne Palshoe

English summary reprinted from the 1945 Danish publication of the booklet “Solv” released by Aage Weimar.

(Aage Weimar was the son of silversmith Evald Nielsen and was born in 1902 [died in 1986]. He trained at Grann& Lagley and opened his own shop in 1936. In addition to being a silversmith in his own right, he also enjoyed a career as a write of crime novels.)

Aage Weimar's silver nugget works have risen from an ardent enthusiasm for quite a new material. They are not the result of a clever acquired technique, which has been employed hundreds of times before – they have risen at the discovery of the possibilities present themselves in the direct utilization of the pure silver nuggets and the exploitation of their decorative value.

He records himself how it was that he conceived the idea that the virgin silver nuggets must be capable of use as an artistic motif. As a practical silversmith, he had, of course, frequently delighted in the sight of a handful of silver nuggets. Nevertheless the joy had always had the trend that this material was something which fundamentally had to be transformed and reshaped by hands. Now, suddenly, one day he held in his hands a tray of silver nuggets and realised how beautiful they were in themselves.

White and glittering they lay in front of him, and their rugged and bizarre forms made him think of water, suddenly solidified into ice in its fall from a rock.

And while he stood there letting white heavy lumps run through his fingers, it grieved him to think that they had to be melted down, be alloyed with copper, be rolled into plates and be drawn into wire, in order later to be shaped into preconceived artistic designs. Why rob these silver nuggets of their individual beauty, with their fascination to the eye like the drifting flight of the clouds across the sky or the sparkling of the sun on water? Why employ your imagination to transform what is already in itself imagination?

He made up his mind to attempt to utilize the inherent beauty of the silver nuggets artistically, let the noble metal express itself and create a new ornamentation through silver nuggets without injuring their original grotesque structure.

The work was a success, almost from the outset, to him, and through this he had adopted the technique, which subsequently he has employed with so great ingenuity. An American has told him, several years after the initial appearance of his silver nugget work, that in one of the southern states of the U.S.A. there is a tribe of red Indians employing the silver in a fashion reminiscent of Aage Weimar's work. He was ignorant of this fact himself, bit it served only to strengthen his conviction that the idea he had conceived was right. Primitive people are often endowed with a sense of the material beauty of substance.

How bubbling is the spring of inspiration, from which Aage Weimar draws, when he works with silver nuggets may not be seen most plainly from the fact that the work is so profuse in its variety as is the case. In one piece of work it becomes something substantial, massive, which characterizes the entirety, in another the lines gambol with a ease so capricious and floating, that it reminds you of a Japanese pen drawing.

The shaping of a silver nugget trinket, naturally, does not consist in a haphazard soldering together of various nuggets and apart from this let chance decide. Trinkets of some sort would undoubtedly be the result of this method, but they would have no relation to art. The small white metal fragments have to be combined and soldered in such a manner that they form an artistic unity.

It is rarely that his silver nugget trinkets represent anything definite. It may happen that he sets as his aim to solve a defined object – of this his inspired crucifix is an example – and it also happens that he lets nuggets, the grotesquely twisted shapes of which has reminded him of sea weed form the background for a floundering fish or leaping dolphin, so that the silver nugget material in this way plays its part. But it is not often he uses it in this manner. Far more frequently he merely gathers the nuggets for an abstract motif, the line division of which is beautiful in itself and whose play in the light in the most perfect manner exploits the uneven surface of the silver nuggets themselves.

You can see in Aage Weimar's silver nugget works, that he has felt it as a relief again to be able to work with trinkets after the end of the dogmas of functionalism, certainly educating in line, but, nevertheless, spiritually sterile.

The primitive urge of mankind is to adorn things by breaking the surface, so that you can attain a rhythm in the interplay of surface and ornamentation, and by employing silver nuggets for these ornamentations Aage Weimar has consistently taken steps towards the purely abstract plastic art.

But simultaneously with this surrender to ornamentation, he has preserved in his works one of the chief virtues of functionalism, i.e. his sense for the harmony of the simple severe lines.

It goes almost without saying, that it is impossible in advance to make a design for a silver nugget trinket, and to say: in this manner, and none other, is it my wish that it should appear.

The silversmith can naturally for a conception of what effect he wishes to attain and he is able to indicate proportions and division of fields approximately, but in the final shaping it is necessary to leave the imagination to decide. Silver is in its virgin form a capricious thing and its effect is in that no violence is inflicted on its individuality.

Viewed by a feminine customer this peculiarity of the silver nugget trinkets is distinctly one more attraction. A woman choosing a trinket is capable of enjoying its intrinsic beauty, but if she knows that no other woman in the world owns the like, she will appreciate it to an even higher degree! Just this that the more detailed the shaping of the ornamentation arises by an interplay between the actual form of the material and the immediate inspiration of the silversmith, precludes a production of series. You cannot, even if it were your wish, make two articles exactly similar, and there is no possibility of copying them.

The woman who is consciously looking for quite an individual trinket will also from this distinctly feminine reason feel more attracted to the silver nuggets.

The silver nugget trinkets have incidentally yet another quality setting them apart. They have no definite reverse like a chased article with a smooth base soldered on - they are plastic with an ornamental affect all round.

In “New Magazine for Arts and Crafts”, Mr. Viggo Sten Moller, the architect, writes about the silver nuggets:

“Aage Weimar has created for himself a specialty by shaping trinkets, boxes and vases from silver nuggets soldered together. He works with imagination in his own sphere, and the variety of possibilities for moulding are sure to appeal to his interest in the strange and fantastic. The silver nuggets are inspiring to the imagination. Its knotty and irregular inherent formations, of which some resemble animals, birds, and saurians, give rise to ideas of the most diversified trinkets, which, thanks to the nature of the material, can never be made in series. Every trinket is thus unique. The primitive character of the material opens possibilities for primitive ornamentation effects.”

During his work with silver nuggets, Aage Weimar also naturally conceived the thought of employing god nuggets for trinkets, also in this field he has attained very beautiful results, just as, with almost natural skill, he masters the ordinary technique of trinkets, among others the world work with white gold and platinum.

But when we have especially paused at the silver nuggets it has been done so deliberately. It is here so ingenuous an effort has been made – a new material has been found and utilized in such a manner that none of its natural properties have been lost. That is a feat of which Aage Weimar need not hesitate to be proud.

See the other Articles from this Publication:

Silver by Kaj Borchsenius

The Handwrought Tablesilver by M. Friis Moller