The Studio – Jewelry Blog by Rio Grande

The Story of the First Fretz Hammer

Feb 15, 2012
2 Comments

Since their worldwide debut at the 2007 Catalog in Motion Show, Fretz Hammers have become a staple of the industry, and the hammer of choice for those who are doing traditional forming on a jewelry-sized scale. Thousands of Fretz Hammers are out in the world now, each of them with 420 stainless heads, oil-finished padauk handles, and a perfect, almost magical balance in the hand when you pick them up.

And all of those many hammers can trace their roots back to this one, the very first Fretz Hammer.

“The Magic Hammer”: A sculpture made in honor of Bill Fretz’s teacher, Hans Christiansen.

"The Magic Hammer" now resides at the Fretz Gallery and Workshop in Bucksport, Maine. I had the opportunity to visit Bill’s gallery last year, and found myself so mesmerized at the sculpture that I asked Bill if we could share it on the blog. Here are some words from Bill Fretz on his work of art:

"The “Magic Hammer" is the first hammer I made. It is sterling silver and ebony wood, made as a eulogy to my silversmithing teacher, Hans Christiansen. After he died in an auto crash I thought that depicting the “Magic Hammer” would be a good way to honor him.

Hans would present his own special "Magic Hammer" to beginning craftsmen who were having trouble planishing. The "Magic Hammer" solved all difficulties. Beginning students of Hans were required to planish low domed plates in bronze with the flat side of the hammer till they were absolutely flat. This is very challenging first project.

My sculpture took liberties with the project and replaced the plate with a forged bracelet.

The ability of the hammer to float is testimony to the magical powers of his hammer.

I used ebony as a sign of mourning of Hans’ passing. The silversmithing community in the US had benefited so much from this Dane.

To learn more about Hans Christansen and his magic hammer, check out the web site for the Society of American Silversmiths. There you can read a biography and see a gallery of the man and his work.

 

Comments (2)
  1. A very cool story!

  2. It’s cool to hear more about a tool that is a favorite for so many people. So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the comment!


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