Wiggle Work or a One Way to Spend a Long Night in Sweden

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Engraving is one of the most common forms of decoration on antique and vintage silver.  You see it used for monograms or creating a motif.  Wiggle work (aka wrigglework) is a particularly charming form of engraving. By adding just a little variation to a straight line, a whole new dimension is added. Take a look at the photo below and see how wiggle work got its name.

Wiggle work

Often found on Scandinavian silver (which is a personal favorite) wiggle work on antique pieces always intrigues me, because someone did all the work by hand.  The skill and patience to do such tiny marks is something to think about in our machine-made mass-produced world. Either during the time of the midnight sun or on long winter nights someone spent a very long time engraving this cup…perhaps it was meant for a sweetheart?

Wiggle work on antique silver

Like zig-zag stitching, except on silver.

When I spotted this little charmer I couldn’t resist the size and shape, but the wriggle work sealed the deal.  It is the mixture of the formal, in this case a trumpet shape, mixed with the relief of the freehand decoration that I find so appealing.  Gustavian furniture has the same mix, very formal French-style silhouettes that are softened and somehow warmed-up by the painted finish.  I think it makes so many of the antique Swedish pieces feel more approachable…like you can use them in real life and not worry that actually using a piece will cause irreparable damage.

Wiggle work on antique silver

Perfect for a cool drink at the end of a long, hot day.


Any suggestions about what drink would suit this cup in either summer or winter?  During the summer I’d fall back on my old friend Pimms…although a splash of framboise with ice cold sparkling water sounds good too. In winter time imagine a nice cup of mulled wine…a good start to the night, don’t you think?


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8 thoughts on “Wiggle Work or a One Way to Spend a Long Night in Sweden

  1. Melonie DodaroNo Gravatar

    I guess this can go with anything. 
    The lines that were created were really work of art. And I’m not pretty sure why, but it has that soothing and calming effect.

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Aren’t they? I can’t imagine being able to do that…I have visions of an ooops, my bad…then having to buff up the cup and start again.

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