Turquoise Mountain is a local, not for profit, NGO that works towards preserving traditional crafts here in Myanmar, and I was lucky enough to spend an evening at their downtown workshop last week learning the art of silversmithing with their master craftsmen.
There is a wealth of traditional arts here in Myanmar, from gorgeous ethnic textiles and lotus silk weaving, to lacquerware, delicate jewellery and gemstones and woodcarving and Turquoise mountain work hard not just preserve these arts forms, but also to connect local artisans to International buyers thus ensuring their financial security for years to come.
The Turquoise Mountain workshop was set up for an evening showcasing their newest products, including some truly stunning gold rings that I will absolutely be saving up for, as well as a small class for just a handful of lucky people who were going to get the chance to make our very own piece of Burmese silver.
We started by ensuring the piece of silver was the correct size, then soldered it to seal it into a ring shape. We then used a hammer and piece of metal to shape the ring so that the outer edges curled inwards. This was a lot harder than it looked but thankfully Ko Thein Aung, the master silversmith, was on hand to assist and slowly, but surely the ring began to take shape.
Next, we cut another, smaller piece of silver and soldered this inside the ring to seal it and then filed it down to make the outside of the ring smooth and to cover the soldering. We then put the ring into a rice cooker filled with “pickle” solution to clean the silver, before buffing the ring to make it shine and voila! My very own, somewhat rustic, Burmese silver ring!
Silversmithing classes are available for small groups, you just need to contact someone at Turquoise Mountain to arrange well in advance, and you can find some of their beautiful jewellery at shops around Yangon, including my favourite Hla Day so you can take home a wonderful reminder of your time in Myanmar
40 Shwe Taung Tan Street (Lower Block)