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Blow the Shofar in Style with Beautifully Workshopped Filagree

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The shofar is an ancient instrument made from a ram’s horn, used in Jewish religious ceremonies. The video below shows not so much the process of making the instrument itself, but the process of making the decorative metal covering that goes on the top. The results of this process, seen above, are quite impressive, and should fit in nicely with the majestic sound one of these horns would make.

The process, also documented in this Polish website, starts out with melting tar onto a metal surface, which will become the decorative ring. This tar is formed with more tar on a piece of wood to make a solid block. Paper containing the initial pattern is then attached to the metal, and a long process of hammering, heating, polishing, and cutting is started. After much work, this results in something quite beautiful. Eventually, the metal is worked into a circular shape and attached to the horn using small nails.

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It definitely makes me think about what ancient people had to do to make useful and beautiful implements. Mass manufacturing has made things cheaper, and in many ways better, but the detail and craftsmanship required to make something like this by hand is really awe-inspiring.

4 thoughts on “Blow the Shofar in Style with Beautifully Workshopped Filagree

  1. Beautiful work, but this is chasing, not filigree.
    One can also work the metal from the inside in which cased it is called repousse, and is commonly done in combination with chasing.
    What is called “tar” in this article is commonly called pitch by jewelers, who also use it to hold engraving and stone setting work as well.

  2. The workmanship is beautiful. Please note, however, that this is NOT a shofar in the sense described in the Jewish tradition.
    1. The horn appears to be from cattle or oxen, species not allowed for use in a shofar.
    2. Perforating the horn, nailing, for example, is not allowed.
    3. While a shofar can be ornamented with silver, the silver must not cover either end of the horn.
    4. There does not appear to be a blow hole for sounding the instrument.

    The project appears to be a drinking horn in the North European tradition. Still the techniques can be applied to a shofar.

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Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

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