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Silver Plating

Silver Plating

Listed as Cambodia heritage by UNESCO in 2004, silver plating has a long tradition going back to the Oudong period in the XVth century. Only a few families of silversmiths perpetuated the tradition until now and Artisans Angkor works towards its revival with a specific workshop.

1. The Rough Shape

The copper leaves are first cleaned into the water and acid as this material can cause itches.

To make a silver plated animal box, the artisan has to deal with two different elements: an upper and an inner part which are first molded into the fire.

For the upper part, the copper leaf is cut following a matrix and is then pounded until it gets the form of the animal, head and back.

Same process for the inner part: the leaf is cut as a cross form which is folded up and pounded to get the feet, and the stomach form.

The inner and upper elements must fit together perfectly.

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2. Carving

To avoid damaging the surface when carving, each element is oiled inside and filled up with gum.

Each part is then finely carved and decorated.

To take out the gum, the item must be melted down into the fire, before dipping it into acid and water for cleaning.

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3. The Join

In parallel, elements such as the trunk and the elephant tail are carved, polished and glued to the main element. Then the item is dried under direct sunlight.

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4. Silver Bath

To give it a silver aspect, the item is first soaked into a water and acid bath during 30mn to clean it. To make it look whiter, it is brushed using soapy water for taking away the top layer. Finally, the item is dipped into a silver bath which gives its shininess and silver aspect.

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5. Boxes

SilverPlating12 SilverPlating13The process to produce boxes is quite similar; but it takes more time and more skills than for producing animal boxes.

First, a copper leaf is put on a flat surface which is covered by gumm beforehand, to not damage it when carving. The different sides of the boxes are then cut and glued by using teuk psar and trey psar before drying it in direct sunlight. The two parts must fit together perfectly. Then, after drawing the motifs on the copper leaf, motifs are carved with care before the items is burned into the fire. At last, the box is lightly polished and then soaked into water and acid bath, then into a soapy water. To finish with, to get the silver aspect, it is dipped into a silver bath. The engraving work and the fire repeated process will make the items finer.

 

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