Trying my big hairy hands at Silversmithing Work, first photos of my 4th project

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 05-01-2008 09:41 PM 2543 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I think it is really important to constantly try to learn new things. Could just be my ADHD. But, I’m too old for medications, so I take on new things to learn to keep my mind freed-up from boredom.

I just don’t like doing anything the same, more than once, or twice. And, I’ve been trying to find ways to make a niche for myself in the vast internet woodworking world. To that end, I try unique crafts, and do cross-discipline, mixed-media work, in the hopes that my work is unique enough to find customers to make this little one-man studio shop pay it’s bills.

So, I’ve been wanting to do silversmithing for about 30 years, and finally made time to do that this Spring. The idea I have is to bring silver work into my Custom Knife ,Walking Cane, Powder Horns, and Furniture work. I still don’t know where any of it will take me, but I am enjoying the thought of a journey with an unknown destination.

I’ve taken many journeys in the past with unknown destinations, and all have proven to develop my character, and have taken me places I would not have planned before hand to go, or success and achievements I could not have envisioned at the beginning. Some folks don’t like mysteries in life, but I have a constant faith in something I can’t talk about on LJ anymore. That faith has brought me through many scary things..

So far, I’ve made a couple of simple finger rings with scrimshaw insets, and a necklace with antler and green rock, and now this cane handle cap, and I’m working on a silver banding for a powder horn, which I think will really make my powder horn work stand out from the crowd. When I get that project finished, I’ll post it, but I’m a couple of class sessions from doing that at this point.

My silver projects have started to be interesting to me, and I have way more ideas than time to do them. I don’t anticipate that I will make jewelry, but rather cross-discipline, mixed media work in the future. But who knows?

These photos are of my first walking cane handle cap. It was sort of difficult work, requiring me to manipulate the silver banding with a hammer, to stretch and shrink the band just perfectly to fit the oval, mishapened, tapered, antler shape. I learned a lot working the material to my will though, so I’m glad I tried the project.

The handle is made of Kansas Elk shed antler, and the end cap material is legal pre-ban Elephant Ivory. The cap is hand-wrought sterling silver, with a fine-silver straight bezel. Soon, I will mount this handle on a walking cane shaft, and scrimshaw some artwork on the handle ivory cap.

Customer Note:
If you are interested in this handle being mounted on a cane for you, let me know soon, so that I can work with you to do the scrimshaw artwork you want, and choose the right style cane shaft for you.

thanks for reading,
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

12 comments so far

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 3654 days

#1 posted 05-01-2008 10:15 PM

WOW! Looks like them big hairy hands did a fine job.

View dlcarver's profile


270 posts in 3147 days

#2 posted 05-01-2008 10:17 PM

Great Mark !


-- Dave Leitem,Butler,Pa.,

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3131 days

#3 posted 05-01-2008 10:30 PM

Is that the secret?... Big hairy hands?... lol… looks like they did another fantastic job!

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3239 days

#4 posted 05-01-2008 11:04 PM


I wish you nothing but the best in your “new endeavor”. It generally works out for the best when we stretch ourselves and move away from the zone of comfort to which we have become accustomed. Learning a new skill invariably does involve some discomfort and uncertainty but ultimately it will generate longterm benefits and enable us to continue to grow and develop.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View joey's profile


396 posts in 3321 days

#5 posted 05-02-2008 01:29 AM

Very nice, my wife is trying to learn to be a silversmith, she makes a lot wire and bead jewelery and wants to add silver work . trouble is here where we live there are not many people who are willing to teach. so each it is a road of self discovery but some time them are the best roads we travel. good luck with your work and I can’t wait to see more of it.

-- Joey~~Sabina, Ohio

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 3439 days

#6 posted 05-02-2008 01:33 AM

Nice Mark:

I take it this is a swaged piece.

Did you know you can cast this stuff with deadly accuracy?


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3408 days

#7 posted 05-02-2008 03:10 PM

Good one Marc. Looks like it was poured on and I can’t see a seam. Keeps up with the rustic look.

Got a rifle stock I’m getting ready to inlay with tin solder…thanx to your advice. I’ll be blogging it later.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 3823 days

#8 posted 05-02-2008 03:26 PM

This type of silver work is done with sheets of metal, cut to shape with a jeweler’s saw, and then silver soldered into a ring, and then hand hammered to stretch, or shrink the band until it fits the shape of the antler. Then, the bezel silver band is silver-soldered in place, and the whole thing is then reshaped after the heat of the soldering moved it a little.

Casting work does not look like hand-wrought silver work like I was wanting to do. I’m not looking for “easy” ways to do this, but rather the old fashion metal smithing techniques with a fit that only a lot of time and lots of little tap, tap, tap, taps, can give you. Tapping the band to shape was over an hour’s worth of work just in that step.

Some times things come with time and patience, not speed. It is a little hard on the ear drums at times.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap….....

Thanks for the comments,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 3744 days

#9 posted 05-03-2008 05:03 PM

Mark, I truly enjoy and respect your approach to your projects. I enjoy woodworking and “I’m not looking for “easy” ways to do this…” sums up how I’m trying to approach my woodworking.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3732 days

#10 posted 05-03-2008 06:10 PM

Very interesting!

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3818 days

#11 posted 05-03-2008 06:31 PM

Mark: I’m glad that you are having Fun. The hobby of the month club is waiting for you membership dues.

It looks great.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3578 days

#12 posted 05-05-2008 11:11 PM

great job. I like how it ‘drips’ down the side.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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