PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
This past weekend I had a chance to A. Meet up with The Justified Sinner in Birmingham and B. Meet some very important people who dabble in guilloché and for my "screamed-like-a-little-girl-with-excitement-but managed-to-keep-it-inside" celebrity sighting: Martin Matthews. The weekend, which included all of Friday as well, was a major highlight in my learning and personal enrichment in privately looking into guilloche techniques and the history behind individuals and their experiences.
And the weather, oh the WEATHER, was gorgeous and sunny and I thought my face might be sunburned it was so nice. I do have a few more freckles so it isn't an exaggeration.
Arrived in London's Luton Airport and waited for the train to take me to Ebbsfleet Station, a relatively new station that is still beautiful and highly underused. Now, I have heard about mind the gap and seen the signs, but what I don't get is the yellow text facing the track, who will be down there when the train arrives that will need to MIND THE GAP that is really only about 6"?
This is just a sample of some of the old machinery I had a chance to check out at David's house. I really thought it was a bit odd to "scratch out the name" but if you look, it is still relatively legible (yay for me, nay for whomever scratched it out). This is a Lienhard from Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. I have been enjoying Liehnard machines and NEVER said that they were best because they were swill, but I also have loved the Plant machines (what I learned on), and am working on perhaps picking one up for myself (Plant, not Lienhard).
It was at David's house that I met the love of my life machinery wise. This beauty is exquisite and has some really nifty bits and parts that make it absolutely versatile and fabulous and...it's ENGLISH. This is a Bower Rose Engine, and with the aid of some great gears behind the rosettes, can create patterns similar to those created with a geometric chuck (or a spirograph) without actually using one. AMAZING. I took some video for myself of David and Phil talking and I shamelessly told David around 7 times that I thought he should "loan" me the Bower...Perhaps he is thinking it over!
Speaking of a geometric chuck, check out this one by William Britton. It is small by some standards, but in great working order because the care that is taken of it. This is the front and I believe is a 1 part chuck so what you see it what you get, the whole shebang. This was made in the mid 1800's.
This is a Child's Rosette, the holes around the perimeter are so that one can create their own rosette by spacing the pegs close together, or in a pattern such as 4 holes apart, 2 holes apart and repeated. These things are really nifty and this was the first time I had gotten to see one (incidentally I saw one this past Friday in seclusion and I instantly recognized it).
This is a rare plate that is 1/8" thick brass where each one of these Flinqué patterns (120 per side) was guillochéd individually. When you study the sheet closely, you can see that they are not all perfect but it is a LOT of work to line up and create 120 circles in which guilloché will be done on one machine most likely by one person. The back side is the same. These were used to stamp plastic parts, some in old cars, some on old radios. I had the pleasure of going to a boot-fair (a trunk style flea market) in Birmingham a few days after this picture and saw a brush, comb and mirror set that used one of these plates (not this pattern sequence) to produce the "guilloché like look" into the transparent blue plastic, it was pretty neat.
Then I arrived in Birmingham and finally met up with Dauvit. This statue is titled Iron: Man and is by Antony Gormley. This statue is 20 feet tall (including 2 feet buried in the pavement) and ways 6 tons. The statue actually leans back at around 7° and to it's left side about 5°. This statue represents the traditional skills of Birmingham (jewelry and metals including blacksmithing) and the Black Country that were practiced in the time of the Industrial Revolution.
We headed to the pen room (www.penroom.co.uk) a terrible website but the museum is AHHHHH-Mazing. There were so many different nibs for pens and we got to see various stages of the process, from the thin metal, to the cut-outs, to being formed. I was even allowed to take home some strips that had nibs cut out of them and I can't wait to use them in a piece. The president (so the name tag stated) gave me a left-handed nib, and no, this is NOT like a left-handed spoon, it is legitimate. The nib is brass and cut at a slight angle to the right so that when a left-hander is writing, the nib tip is flat against the paper keeping an even distribution of the ink.
This is an example of one of many different arcades that are in the Birmingham area. This particular one is gorgeous inside but there are not many shops, so in a way, it is abandoned almost. This arcade reminded me of the Crystal Palace that was in Hyde Park, London at the World's Fair in 1851. This was created by an architect who took inspiration from a greenhouse. It is an architectural wonder because it had a cast iron frame and glass and was completely portable. The original building (destroyed in a fire in 1936) was 564 meters long and 138 meters wide and showed man's conquest over nature by also exhibiting plants inside it. Google it or read about it in "Makers: A History of American Studio Craft" by Janet Koplos and Bruce Metcalf. Or take the History of Crafts Class at the University of North Texas, taught by Ana Lopez (what I did).
This is an underpass in Birmingham that was revamped. I don't have more information about this but I thought it was really nice. The lights lead to a sort of relaxing atmosphere and the cut-outs that are projected on the walls add a somewhat Mediterranean theme. It's really just quite interesting.
These are the doors of the church, so ornate are the hinges. The church was closed by the time I arrived there but it was gorgeous and even had a viewing platform situated a bit up the steps from it, complete with tourists taking pictures, locals lounging around having food and teenagers loving the gorgeous spring weather.
This is an EARLY morning picture showing the old church with the new modern building behind it. The food and flower stalls are still empty. This might also be because it was daylight savings time and I feel like a lot of people forgot to spring forward this morning.
Last but not least, here is a picture of me and Dauvit in the Birmingham train station, I am headed home and he is headed to meet a friend for some coffee. It was great to meet such an incredible jewelry designer, maker, educator. We got to nerd out and talk about metals and jewelry and he was so seemingly interested in engine turning and that is a subject that when I get started, I can't stop until you know the entire history and what's happening with it in modernity. So, THANK YOU for listening to that spiel Dauvit and to my blog readers as well, this post was as exciting but I loved the experience and wanted to share with you, nerdy or not.
My next adventures may be to visit a friend in Pforzheim, Germany where more guilloché happens, but I am likely to also see some art in various media.
crafthaus loves a nerdy post.
You are welcome back anytime!
Callie.....you are having so much fun and getting to know so many cool people. Happy for you! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.