“Now I either engrave or carve nearly everything I make, to the point that I sometimes make a piece just to have something on which to do some engraving.” – Angus McFadyen
Angus McFadyen became a silversmith more by accident than by design. As a child he was often to be found in his father’s woodwork shop.
“I went to college to learn to make furniture but was drawn to metalwork instead,” says Angus. Some years after leaving college he taught himself to engrave – a technique that has since come to characterise his work. Angus is best known for his silver vessels, most of them hand-raised and decorated with botanical motifs – clocks, teapots, vases and bowls adorned with golden foliage, chrysanthemums, ferns and roses.
He explains that his attraction to engraving in particular is as much concerned with line and texture as it is with the form and finish of an object.
“Now I either engrave or carve nearly everything I make, to the point that I sometimes make a piece just to have something on which to do some engraving. I have always been drawn to low relief carving in stone, such as the Elgin Marbles. It is not just the carving, it is the monotone quality that appeals. I think a lot of the time I am trying to reproduce drawings on silver.”
“A lot of the engraving I am doing at the moment is influenced by textiles and fabric. An engraved mark can be used in a similar way to a stitch or a thread”
His more recent work has seen him experiment with inlaying as a way of applying decoration, inlaying fairly thick pieces and leaving them proud of the surface to give depth, rather than carving away the surface of the metal.
“A lot of the engraving I am doing at the moment is influenced by textiles and fabric. An engraved mark can be used in a similar way to a stitch or a thread, and inlays and carving can be applied like embroidery as points of interest. It’s not something I particularly set out to do, but now I think about it, I might be better off doing some sewing!”
As for many makers, the process of making and the tools used to execute particular techniques are a source of continuing fascination and enjoyment for Angus. “I find the tools and their use as appealing as the effect they achieve. Beginning to engrave a piece of silver has the same thrill as beginning a drawing on a clean sheet of paper.”