ECA+ Creative Member Directory
Mapping the Arts in Easthampton, Southampton, & Westhampton

Beth McElhiney

Transforming antique silver plate into Exquisite colorful, food safe, contemporary heirlooms

I up-cycle antique and vintage silver plate, aluminum, and brass serving pieces, candlesticks and flatware. They were no longer usable or in fashion and are now contemporary tabletop pieces enameled in colors that work in a modern interior. The finished product is one of a kind, anti-bacterial, food safe, good for serving hot foods on, dishwasher safe, and you never have to polish again. My process is green, the materials used are reclaimable and there is nothing toxic going into the water, air or earth. By re-using metals that were mined many years ago I am finding a way to avoid more mining, smelting, and disposing into landfills of metals that do not decompose.

While growing up in New York I had worked with silver since I was 14 and apprenticed with a local jeweler. I went on to get my degree in jewelry design from FIT. Now it is over 30 years later and I am still fascinated by metal. Old metal and new metal. Or old metal transformed into a new form. As an antique dealer I collected old silver plate but no one wanted to buy it from me. Everyone had pieces from their family that the kids did not want and they were stored in the attic or basement and in one case I found a lady who had boxes of it in her barn so covered in dirt and mouse droppings I had to wear a mask to take it out! Suddenly I found a new mission in my artistic life to renew this old metal into something that people want now and would pass down to the next generation as an inheritance. Using my 30 years of experience working with metals I started exploring ideas and options that were environmentally responsible. After a lot of trial and error I developed this enamelware collection of old silver plate and aluminum serving pieces. They are sandblasted, then powder enameled and fired in a kiln. The "new" pieces are in contemporary colors, food safe and very durable. Best of all you never have to polish again and they are not going into the dump to never decompose!

2009 - JCK Rising Star 2009 - First Place Winner in the Silver category of the Saul Bell Jewelry Competition 2014 - Finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made Competition for my Enamelware business.