TECHNIQUES AND MATERIALS
The construction manner of a silver object also defines its name. They are primarily divided into two categories, forged and cast.
Forged is called a silver object, whose shape is created with the hammer. The craftsman begins with a sheet of silver, gives it shape with the hammer and the assistance mainly of the lathe. Also at the disposal of the craftsman is bas-relief or inner-carved molds which are used in the impression of scenes on vessels or on jewelry.
To the contrary, for other small objects, or parts of larger ones, the casts or pandefia are used. They are essentially molds in which the molten silver is poured (cast), and from where it takes the shape desired by the craftsman. Next, they work it by hand in order to correct any imperfections and for further decoration. This technique helped and still helps in the rapid production of certain objects.
As for the technique, the manner of creation of the décor also defines its name. Despite the fact that in many silver objects only one technique is used, in others is found the existence of a combination, an element that adds value to the object but is also indicative of the ability and mastery of the craftsman.
The etched décor is usually created with the help of a design which was applied to the object and then this was worked on its good side with the help of chisels.
For the bas-relief décor, the silver object, once placed in tar, is worked on its reverse side (the good side is covered by the tar), in order to create the puffed décor, without the vibrations affecting the surface as they are absorbed by the tar.
The perforated décor is created with the removal, based on a design, of portions of the surface in order to reveal the desired theme and result.
The wire décor is created with the use of silver wires which are welded to the surface of the object in order to create a design or portions of it.
The grained décor is made of groups of small grains (granes), which are usually soldered on the wires. Therefore it is very common to have the grained décor accompany the wire décor.
With the technique of enamel, the necessary amount of enamel in powder form was placed on the surface where the craftsman wanted it and then kilned at a high temperature in order to melt it and have it take on the desired shape and colour.
The savat (savati or nielo), is derived from a metal alloy, which is placed on the etched surface of the object and melts at a high temperature. Next the craftsmann works it and files it in a solidified state. It is a technique which is known since ancient times, was very prevalent in the Byzantine period and during the Turkish domination and which today has almost been abandoned in all parts of Greece except Ioannina.
Regarding precious or semi-precious stones, pearls, amethyst and mined crystals were used, while the most frequently encountered semi-precious stones used were agate, karchidonii, kornalina, corral and sardonyx. Finally, also used was coloured glass mass, where required. Here it must be noted that the use of precious or semi-precious stones depended on the person placing the order as well as the receiver of a silver object but also on the more general economic conditions of the time. The same also occurred with the use of gold, for the purpose of gold plating an entire or a portion of a silver object, whether it was secular or ecclesiastical.
As seen now from this brief description of the workshop of a silversmith, the means and techniques used, nothing has been changed in relation to the past, but only in the moderate modernization of certain means and tools and these to facilitate the craftsman. The course of the silver-goldsmith craft in the prefecture of Ioannina is centuries old and unbroken and even to today offers works of art that may be equally compared to those of the past. The ability of creating handcrafted works gives the maker but also the buyer the sense of production and possession of a unique product, of which because of its character, there is no other exactly like it.