Silverwork of Burma – Tools and Plants

Joseph Cohen Harry Tilly, Silver 362 Views

A mongst the tools and plant of a worker in silver is an open charcoal hearth fanned by English or Burmese bellows. The latter deserves a word or two of description, as they are used in many trades. They are of all sizes, from the tiny model of goldsmith, which may be worked with the little finger, to the huge apparatus of the brass-founder, required a man to each rod.


The bellows are formed by placing vertically, side by side, two hollow bamboos plugged at the bottom. From just above the plug two small bamboo pipes converge to the hearth, where they are connected by a fireclay nozzle. The blast is formed by compressing the air in the tubes by an ingenious contrivance, which serves at the same time as a piston and as a valve for admitting air. Each tube or cylinder is fitted with a rod, at the end of which is tied a bunch of cock’s feathers with the quills upwards: when the rod is forced down, the feathers are pressed against the side of the cylinder by resistance of the air and an air-tight piston is obtained; when the rod is drawn again ,the feathers trail downwards and the cylinder is filled with air. The rods are worked alternately, and in all except the largest blowers, are connected at the top by a bar pivoted at a point between them, so that a reciprocating movement can be given by pushing and pulling down one end of the cross rod by means of a light bamboo. The combined piston and valve closely resembles those feather brushes used for dusting pictures.

The other tools used by silversmiths are crucibles, hammers, small anvils, blowpipe, spirit lamp, many sizes of punches, and small chisels, a small tapping hammer and round steel burnishers. Some men are able to use the lathe.



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Joseph CohenSilverwork of Burma – Tools and Plants