In a matter of a few months, the Hammer Club, will be hosting their annual meeting. But what is the Hammer Club?
Originally formed in 2002 in Hamburg, the Hammer Club is an organization of silversmiths, collectors, and museum experts in Europe aimed to help promote European silversmiths and bring more publicity to their works.
The Hammer Club's purpose of bringing awareness of the craft and encouraging others may seem strange with a material that has such prestige, however, the art itself is dwindling. Handcrafted silver increasingly seems out of place in today's world. Machines, since the 1800's, have been increasingly taken the manufactury of silver items out of the hands of the individual silversmith. This, in itself, is not necessarily a detriment, as machines can create items of exceptional quality today in larger quantities and at lower prices than before. Combined with the increased price of silver and the change of the household table settings since the early 20th century, which has regulated much of the use of silver towards jewelry rather than beautiful pieces of holloware and cutlery, it is easier to understand their plight. Thankfully, due to the Hammer Club's yearly exhibitions interest in the art and exceptional works they produce is renewed and brought to public light.
During their yearly meetings, the location is typically set by a member who was elected from the previous year, and typically hosted at a museum located near the elected member's home city. This get together allows for more than just the promotion of the silversmiths, but also emphasizes heavily on both craftsmanship and excellence in design, and encourages members to discuss techniques. The museum locations and the invitation extended to museum curators also allows for attendees to remember the traditions and past upon which they build, as old techniques and methods can be rediscovered, or lend inspiration to new and innovative areas, and newer methods and techniques can help assist in the restoration and curation efforts of older items.
The participating silversmith members submit a number of pieces (jewelry pieces are not accepted) to display at the chosen local museum, which also tends to display their own collection of fine antique silver items and the variety present helps to bridge the gap between old and new, and allow for comparison between the two while demonstrating the continuity of the art itself. During the exhibition, members of the Hammer Club are also asked to jury the pieces submitted by their own members and awards prizes in quantities of silver to the silversmiths who displayed excellence in their craft. In this and other meetings, speaker and lectures are sometimes given on a variety of subjects, from the art of restoration to marketing, and tours of the historical areas with their rich history are offered and sometimes lend inspiration.
To this end, the organization allows for the ideals it represents above, in a relatively informal manner. All types of members are represented equally, and each contributes in some way to the continuity of the craft itself.
The next annual meeting has been announced to take place between May 8th and 19th in 2015 in Chemnitz, Germany near the workshop of its member, Mattias Heck. A nearby museum in Dresden will be displaying their contest pieces. Locally, Dresden also hosts the Green Vault, with its huge collection of silver items from the Baroque period.
It promises to be a fantastic event indeed!