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Christopher Price

Staffordshire Webchat

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Sometimes you ask, and you actually receive. Dr David Symons and Dr Morn Capper are hosting a webchat right now, and they seem to be very open to some of the questions I've been asking. When pressed for measurement-style photography of the filigree work, they posted up this gem:

 

phpIPvKCrK1200filigreewiremeas-XL.jpg

 

They also suggest an openness to a more permanent display at the Smithsonian if enough interest is expressed, and working with other craftsmen beyond the excellent work Mr. Bush has already done with them. Sharpen your tools, gentlemen.

 

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Here are some new flickr galleries they posted up so far...

 

Cheek Piece group: http://www.flickr.co...598033053/show/

 

Religious articles: http://www.flickr.co...233257398/show/

 

Seax Fittings: http://www.flickr.co...162263952/show/

 

Sword Fittings: http://www.flickr.co...162197072/show/

 

Animals: http://www.flickr.co...598422667/show/

 

Gold/Garnet fittings: http://www.flickr.co...620813083/show/

 

Foils: http://www.flickr.co...256281520/show/

 

Mystery Object:

Edited by Christopher Price

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Sweet, wouldn't it be nice to have a few lbs of gold to play with.

 

Making that beaded wire from anything but gold is a bugger. I bet with gold it's like butter.

 

Will you bring your wire making stuff to the hammer-in Chris?

 

Mark

Edited by Mark Green

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Possibly. I've tabled it, trying to get other work done in time, but if it's convenient I will. I'm using dead-soft silver, which should work about as easy as gold at first, but it's not quite as nice. I figure if it can be done in silver, then moving to gold will be easy, vs. the other way around.

 

I'm also saving the entire webchat, and will post a link when they're done for future reference.

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Cool stuff Chris.

 

I had to table my wire welding experiments as well, but I'm itching to do them. I may try a quicky, and if it works, I'll bring you some of the welding mix, of Copper salts, Gum tragacanth, copper filings, and a pinch of borax.

 

Did you ask about the period mix?

 

I picked up a nice pile of beach amber when i was at war, and will rub some of that down to the same level as the garnets.

I already have some packed to show you.

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They seem to have not even done basic measurements, let alone fully figure out how the stuff was made. I think we are ahead of them in this area, unless they're really piling on disinformation to keep things secret.

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Thanks Chris. Great links. Do you know which piece the close-up filigree is from? Would be nice to compare it to the context.

 

Jim

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I asked, but they didn't respond to that question. I think a thorough review of the flickr set will give it away, and I'll look into that when I'm up at midnight with nothing better to do and share my thoughts here.

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And of course I was away from the computer all afternoon... :(

 

Great job, Chris!

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I love it when I'm right... :lol:

 

This picture clearly shows how the cells were made from flat wire soldered up.

 

capture_001_23032012_142711.jpg

 

And the pics of the "mystery object" show the garnets are not all flat on top. Dang, I wish I weren't poverty-stricken! I need to get some gold. :(

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I just went back and counted, and out of 21 questions asked and answered, 10 of them were mine. Trying to represent for us!

 

I love it when I'm right... :lol:

 

This picture clearly shows how the cells were made from flat wire soldered up.

 

Careful, there... I was pretty sure of something too, cause the first thing I looked at confirmed my bias. Across the entire collection, though, there seem to be different ways of accomplishing basically the same thing. Either individual craftsmen, or different guild houses doing things "their way", it seems logical to expect a range of ways to skin any particular cat.

Edited by Christopher Price

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That method, would seem to be the easiest. You can see on this piece, how they likely started at one end, and presses the stones in as they went. it is interesting that the thickness of the gold is much thinner at the right end as pictured.

When you look at all the garnet fittings, there seems to be only a few different basic garnet designs, and cuts of sections of those designs. I still speculate that many of the stones were mass produced some where on the continent, and sold in bulk to the art houses of the AS royalty. The craftsmen could modify them as needed. You see many of the exact same designs in central Europe, of the same period. It only make sense.

You see about 3 sizes of the mushroom, and many halves,quarters, and parts of the same. The most common by far. Some big and smaller squiggle squares as above, and slices of. Near all the other shapes can be fashioned from these two shapes.

Garnets don't grow in Briton. I would think, some crafty entrepreneur in central Europe could have cranked out hundreds, or thousands of these basic garnet designs, and sold them to nobles, and craft-houses throughout the region.

Just my theory.

Having honed down a hundred or so, I sure wish I could have bought some prefab, and a few blanks, for custom designs.

Why else, would most of the work from this period, all look so simular throughout Europe?

 

It is the costume works that are so very interesting. Garnets, are a 7 on the gem harness scale. Not an easy task to shape them without modern tool. They like to crack at will, and are very brittle at this thickness.

Another thing that is so very impressive is the glue they used to secure these stones. A lot of the secure fit is aided by the construction. they could press the gold strips securely as the built the piece. the glue was a gypsum base. It worked as a levelers well. And, with the gold foil that backed the stones was used to crimp the garnets in place, and buffer them from shock. It is amazing, that this method held up so well to 1300 years in the ground.

I want to see a breakdown of that formula.

 

You would think, that the most important people they would get to do some of the analysis on this find would be master jewelers. A professor of AS history, makes for a good consultant on dating the find. But, figuring out the how, it all was constructed will take some people very knowledgeable in the making of gold jewelry.

The broken pieces tell us the most.

 

Wonderful stuff!!!! :D

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Like I said, and if you go read the transcript, the two kind Dr's seem perfectly happy to form partnerships with folks like us, as appropriate. I send them a "don't post this, but you should know..." message about our little group and left them my email, we'll see if they reach out to me or not. You're first on my list of referrals for the garnet work, since you've already put so much into that area. I think your theory of widespred distribution of these things from a more central supplier is sound, at least at one moment in time. They seem to be the rage for a couple hundred years, then nothing on either side of that in the record that I'm aware of.

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The damage is so revealing. The cells of this bit seem formed from only four different shapes of bent wire. The step shaped pieces appear to be single wires that span the whole width. You can see how they’ve held together rather nicely in the damaged area, even where quite buggered, with no separations along the steps, anywhere up and down the steps, on the whole piece. These are connected by four bits between each, with some separations noticable.

 

If I had to make it I would solder or fusion bond the cells, all at once, and then fit the garnets from behind. They could be removed and carefully tracked and then glued in(edit: inserted with wires burnished to hold them) after the foiled back was soldered. I can’t see fitting the gold to precut stones. A really astounding amount of work in any event.

 

A very close inspection should reveal whether it is soldered or, more likely I think, fusion bonded.

 

post-510-13325276070109.jpg

Edited by Jim Kelso

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Mark, you've asserted there's a glue between stone and foil, but in no case can I recall seeing any evidence of this - no trace of gunk left on any of the foils, and I think they're too thin to come completely separated without tearing or leaving some glue behind in the loss of a stone. That leaves me with the belief that the stone is, in original form, a friction fit or maybe a little glue on the edges where it hits the flat wire, but to my eye, the flat wire has a burnished appearance that may mushroom just enough material over the top of the stone, to hold them in place mechanically.

 

 

Obviously they weren't designed to withstand the damage that 1200 years and a plow have inflicted on them, so I guess I'm wondering where this glue theory comes from.

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Mark, you've asserted there's a glue between stone and foil, but in no case can I recall seeing any evidence of this - no trace of gunk left on any of the foils, and I think they're too thin to come completely separated without tearing or leaving some glue behind in the loss of a stone. That leaves me with the belief that the stone is, in original form, a friction fit or maybe a little glue on the edges where it hits the flat wire, but to my eye, the flat wire has a burnished appearance that may mushroom just enough material over the top of the stone, to hold them in place mechanically.

 

 

Obviously they weren't designed to withstand the damage that 1200 years and a plow have inflicted on them, so I guess I'm wondering where this glue theory comes from.

 

I think this makes the most sense. The wire could be initially a little proud and then burnished over, taking care of small gaposis as well. That would account for the small variations in width of the wires.

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Hey Chris! The small is 27 gauge, the big 20 - a bit bigger than anticipated, thank goodness! :rolleyes:

 

 

That should make it a whopping 2.3% easier to work... and now I'll need to go buy more wire to be "authentic" and find something else to do with this stuff. Time to learn Koftgari, perhaps.

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The glue is under the foil. Leahy, has it as calsite, ground quartz, clay, and wax alone or in some mix. Other books say it is gypsum based.

Look close at all the broken pieces. It is still hanging on, in most cases.

The foil helped to wedge or crimp the stones in. I don't think too much burnishing of the edges was done. Maybe a little. I looked for that when I went to the exhibit. very few looked as though the edges were burnished over. Some did a little.But that could have just been ware. It would be nice if they would take some good clear close pics of the damaged areas, from many angles.

I was thinking the burnishing, would be the best way though myself. If you look close at the new 'cleaned' high res pics, you see a little of this. A lot of the stones seem to just be a close fit.

I feel that with the gold, if you constructed from one side, over, you could crimp the gold flat wire fairly tight against the stones, once you put the "glue" and foil in place, and had your level right. Maybe they will get out some good close pics soon. Or maybe we could ask for some.

However it was done, it was genius. For most of those stones to stay in place all these years, with the beating many pieces took. I look forward to experimenting with the real garnets. It is just very time consuming.

Right now I'm just going from what Leahy had to say in "ANGLO-SAXON CRAFTS", and my own observation of the pieces.

I do plan to do a bit of burnish over edges, with the real garnets.

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A curious feature too of that piece is the anomaly of an extra tiny cell along the top edge, a little right of center. Maybe a stone busted and they added a bit to fill in. :o

 

cropped.jpg

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It does have one 'step' less then the others. To keep the pattern correct, the artist had to repair that little bit. Garnets are a bugger about cracking! :angry:

Good observation Jim.

 

post-257-13325983574373.jpg

 

This is a great study piece. In this closer shot, I would say they for sure did some burnishing of the upper lip to aid in the stone securing. It looks as tough, the 'step' pieces are one piece of wire, and the in-between strips were welded to those pieces.

 

post-510-13325276070109.jpg

 

It also has a great broken section, where you can see the construction fairly well, and get a good look at the foil, and glue filler. You can see on that piece of foil, cntr. bottom, where the foil crimps up, once around the edges of the stone.

Being very thin gold, and soft, this technique, looks like it would work pretty well to help secure the stones.

Gold is so nice. :rolleyes:

Edited by Mark Green

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I was going through all the new 'cleaned' pics this evening.

 

This one broken pommel has a great look into the construction, where it has been hacked from the mountings.

 

 

6959275623_c2972cddb2_o.jpg

 

In this pic. you can see that a good deal of edge burnishing was done. we get a good look at the depth of the cells, and the large amount of backing filler that must have been used. Whatever the make up was of this filler/glue, it must have had very little shrinkage, unless the shrinkage was part of the process.

The squared off edge garnets are very interesting. On many of the pieces that have these, they are missing some, and many are broken. Some have been replaced with other stones or glass. I think they likely realized after a while that these garnet edge stones were not such a great idea. It may help in the dating of some pieces.

Were some of the welds are broken, we can see how lightly they were welded in the first place.

The new pics are great. Now I wish they would take some from the angles I want to see. Like underneath, and inside.

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