Inspired by history

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Comyns Rose Bowl collection revisits the art of classic scrollwork

THE legacy of grand decorative silverware maker, Comyns, can be traced all the way back to the 17th century in England and upon the Royal Selangor group acquiring the brand over a decade ago, efforts to document and catalogue every item and design has resulted in the Comyns archive. The archive is an interesting and important facet of the brand that encapsulates its history and is a treasure trove filled with historical moulds, tools, patterns and drawings, covering the history of British silver over the centuries.

Among the exquisite archived designs is that of the latest Rose Bowl collection whereby Comyns revisits the art of classic scrollwork — an essential element of classical and medieval decoration based on the original designs found in the archive. The collection is made up of two rose bowls and a tray all of which not only make for an extravagant decoration but are also functional.

Each bowl is hand spun and supported on a flared foot and feature ornate motifs on the lids. The commitment to attention to detail is further emphasised by the rosebud that forms the knob of the lid. The two bowls are placed on a sleek silver tray with floral motifs, on the two ends of the tray that match the bowls. Executive director of Royal Selangor, Chen Tien Yue explains that this centrepiece showcases one of the many gems from the fine collection of ideas that have been preserved through history and are constantly being unearthed from the archive.

A craftswoman — one of three from Royal Selangor, trained in this art — who has been practising the art for a few decades now, was in situ, displaying the age-old technique of chasing silver. The process involves working the metal from the front to define, refine and texturise the motifs by hammering with various handmade tools that raise, depress and push aside the silver surface without removing any of the metal. The craftswoman explains that all the tools of each craftsperson are handmade by each of them. The lid then goes through a technique known as repoussé whereby the reverse side of the lid is hammered in order to create a higher relief. Finally, the lid is an embellishment with a 24k gold-gilt layer underneath the pierced surface to further enhance the intricate detailing and create a contract through a rich play of colour between sterling silver and gold.

Priced at RM24,900, the Rose Bowl collection will be available for viewing and pre-order at the Comyns boutique in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur from mid-April onwards. It will also be available at the Comyns boutiques in Suria KLCC, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Royal Selangor Visitor Centre and selected Royal Selangor stores in July this year.

Comyns_PeacockThe designs in the archive continue to inspire Comyns’ craftsmen of present day to create stunning pieces for sterling silver aficionados. Coupled with the interpretive works of original designs this has led to the creation of elegant centrepieces such as the Comyns Sterling Silver Swan that takes two master craftsmen six months to make with more than 50 separate pieces of silver are chased, curved and contoured with thousands of hammer blows to sculpt each feather. In another centrepiece, the Comyns Peacock, each eye of the feather is an engraved plate of niobium and is coloured to create the iridescence on the feathers of the bird. Every creation of Comyns carries four hallmarks — the William Comyns hallmark, the purity of silver content, the assay office mark and the date letter or year of assay, to certify its quality.


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 7, 2015.