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Pastry slice

Pastry slice

  • Place of origin:

    California (made)

  • Date:

    1994 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Shirk, Helen, born 1942 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver and 14 carat gold, hammered

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Professor B. Seymour Rabinovitch

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This server is a freely formed version of the infrequent, small, mid eighteenth century pastry trowel. The style is a very personal one. It draws from the patterns and images of growth, life and death that the artist sees in nature. It is itself almost like a "found object"; a natural specimen that holds all the surprise of a glinting rock embedded in a stratum. Helen Shirk has boldly exploited the extensive range of texture effects that are possible in silver.

Physical description

The server has a narrow triangular blade made up of several long irregular strips running most of the length of the blade and overlapped double in most places. The surface is further embellished by laid-on, irregular, narrow gold strips. The handle is constituted of five strips, all of convex form so as to make an irregularly rounded hollow handle of roughly oval cross section. The surface is decorated on top of the blade and both sides of the handle by a scored, engraved effect that was achieved by irregular hammer blows with a sharply scored hammer face and which gives the surface a bright cut, crystalline appearance. The server proves to be quite functional for both cake and pastry.

Place of Origin

California (made)


1994 (made)


Shirk, Helen, born 1942 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver and 14 carat gold, hammered

Marks and inscriptions



Length: 30.5 cm, Weight: 132 g, Width: 5.5 cm

Historical context note

Part of a collection of fish slices commissioned by Professor Rabinovitch from contemporary North American and British makers.

Descriptive line

Silver and 14 carat gold, USA, LaMesa, California, 1994, designed and made by Helen Shirk

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Benton Seymour Rabinovitch and Helen Clifford, Contemporary Silver, commissioning designing collecting, London, Merrell, pp.146-7. ill. ISBN.1858941040

Labels and date

This collection of silver slices, all commissioned over a period of twenty years by Professor Benton Seymour Rabinovitch FRS, is proof of the skill and diversity of contemporary silversmiths. Each artist craftsman has responded to the familiar functional form of the slice in an individual way, producing an astonishingly diverse range of interpretations. Each piece becomes an enchanting, decorative work of art. Professor Rabinovitch established a close rapport with each artist, always encouraging a freedom of creative expression. The response of these silversmiths has been not only to be strikingly imaginative but also to honour him by giving him their best work.

This collection is testimony to the significant contribution that one individual can make to supporting the craft of silversmithing. After commissioning work from some of the most illustrious names in British and North American silversmithing, Professor Rabinovitch has very generously donated his entire collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum, through the American Friends of the V&A. [2005]


Silver; Fourteen-carat gold


Hammering; Gilding


Eating; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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