Stephen M Goldsmith FIPG forges links with "het Bossche Gilde van Goudsmeden"
I met René Van Tol Chairman of” het Bossche Gilde van
Goudsmeden” at an “IPG” AGM at Goldsmiths Hall in London; I remember our first
René wanted to know my secret and so did the Chairman of the IPG, how I am
advertised all over the internet and could I do this for the IPG too!
The next time I met René was at an IPG Christmas party he also had members of
his executive with him this time he called me over too chat to his friend’s, as
anyone who knows me understands I am passionate about polishing and the craft in
general, as I try to tell everyone it’s not all about me!
Everyone was agreeing with René that I am indeed a very good ambassador for my
craft and René then asked me to visit Den Bosch and enthuse some of that passion
on to his fellow craftsmen in his guild.
I took some persuading as I had never been to Europe to talk about what I am
most passionate about. It so happened that The Design and Irish Craft Council
asked me to run a master-class in the January at Kilkenny Castle, so I
discovered what would be involved in running my “Road Show” and getting my
polishing tools on an aeroplane.
I run short courses all over the UK and Europe now, as they are very popular,
including, The Goldsmiths’ Centre London, The School of Ireland Dublin, The
Design and Irish Craft Council,The School of Jewellery in Birmingham, Jasso in
Oxford and added VanTol & Breet Academy Den Bosch in the Netherlands to my list,
I had suddenly became International as have had invites to Japan and Australia
So our trip to “s-Hertogenbosch” started very early one morning, our flight was
booked for 6.30am from Stansted airport to Eindhoven and we were met by Johan
and delivered to Van Tol and Breet in Den Bosch, where René and his wife Beverly
were eagerly waiting for us to arrive, Johan offered to give us a guided tour
later and he said until this afternoon!
My visit was matched up with the Gilds half yearly meeting conducted in Dutch
but I got the gist of it very animated and debates taking place, I was one of
the two "cabaret acts" to follow later.
Suddenly the time was upon me, I had to sing for my supper!
Never had such a setup before it was so well organised with 2 polishing machines
and an ultrasonic, there was a cam to concentrate on what I was going to polish
and a large screen for the audience to see the action, I was given a microphone,
a projector linked to a laptop to show my PowerPoint presentation.
I had an audience of 65 including various dignitaries such as the Deputy Mayor
of Den Bosch eagerly waiting to hear the words of the polishing guru from the
I was actually the warm up act for renowned
Dutch Silversmith Jan van
My first act was called “A legend in my own lunch break!” I use the PowerPoint
presentation to tell the story of my 43 years in the trade and I include
humorous stories and photos, its light entertainment and it was created because
I have a lot to do with various students and thought they might like to know
what it was like when I started in the trade over 40 years ago.
This went down very well to thunderous applause!
So then Jan van Nouhuys comes on he gave a lecture entitled “Skill /craft is the
continuous in the Art " which was in Dutch but Jan had offered to speak in
English but the chairman/board decided it cannot go all my way. There were
plenty of photos accompanying his lecture so my wife and I had some idea; he was
well received as Jan is indeed a real legend in the Netherlands.
There was an intermission with plenty to drink and eat; those Dutch open
sandwiches are to die for.
The third act was well choreographed, I knew ahead that I was going to polish
the Mayor’s Chain of Office and also knew that René was going to try and
convince the Deputy Mayor to have a new chain of office made for 2016. So the
microphone was taken away from me while I started polishing as everyone could
watch on the big screen my every move while René tried to convince the Deputy
Mayor, it was very amusing, as I thought it would be best not to polish the
whole chain and just the big medal, as I am well trained in the art of selling
and it was not in René interest for me to make it look brand new. I cleaned his
medal in the ultrasonic provided and presented the chain of office to the Deputy
Mayor and he said, he did not need a new one now, I answered sorry I could not
restore it in the time and everyone laughed, not so sure if he was that
Then I had a question and answer session. I must say there was lots of questions
but there was one man who made flutes and he wanted to know how I would polish
one, so I went up to him and dragged him on stage with me and sat him down and
used his hands like a puppet to polish his flute, I always use this technique to
explain the pressure needed, I think he understood the necessary pressure and
the movement needed.
Some people came on stage and watched me polish a silver coffee pot and there
were lots of photographs taken of me polishing with my tools.
Once my demonstration was over René presented me with a book about Hieronymus
Bosch the artist whose 500th anniversary was in 2016.
Again there was great applause and my wife looked very proud as she had never
seen me perform before.
I was asked to autograph the polishing machine I had used so I am indeed famous
somewhere in the Netherlands!
I was then interviewed by a journalist and photos were taken and I appeared in
the local newspaper the following day.
“The Guru comes to s-Hertogenbosch! “
VanTol & Breet Academy was born and I
was the opening act.
Stephen M Goldsmith FIPG- MNGG – KCHS