Cop shapes silver

Martin Carroll – Photo supplied.

Martin Carroll, a local 46 year old Waikato policeman, is also a silversmith renowned for his work. Silversmithing is the art of forming silver into large items and Martin does his work on his days off from the police force.

“Those days off can’t come round quick enough!” said Martin. “There’s an amazing feeling when you start with a large piece of flat silver and start creating it into a work of art. It’s amazing to see people’s ideas come to life. When I’m in my workshop the hours fly past so quickly. It really is not the work place but the joy place for me.”

Martin wanted to be a photographer but couldn’t get into the course. “The college said they had places on the silversmithing course so I thought why not! People think if you’re a silversmith you’re a jeweller. In reality a silversmith makes large items of silverware and precious metals and a jeweller makes jewellery regardless of the type of metal.”

“I make anything from broaches to trophies. For example, I’ve made a trophy for distinguished service and life membership for the Auckland Coast Guard and a trophy for the Royal Marine Cadets for cadet of the year. All my work is sent to the UK for hallmarking, where it’s stamped with traditional marks certifying the precious metal is genuine, along with the maker’s mark. This makes any piece I work on an antique of the future and a family heirloom.”

Martin grew up in Kent (England) and moved to New Zealand when he was 36. “Silversmithing is a dying trade and like many handcrafts, once it’s lost it will be lost forever. It’s important we keep it going by teaching the young and those who wish to learn the skill. Now we’re in a throw away society people think something can be made or repaired in an hour or two. It’s not until they come see or try it that they really have an appreciation of just how long it takes to make a bespoke item.”

“I run silversmithing courses from my workshop. Students comment on how easy I make it look hammering the metal. Then they have a go and realise it’s not just about hammering the metal. There are many other things they need to know. This is one of the many disciplines that make being a silversmith so specialised and skilled.”
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