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Alan Longmire

Anglo-Saxon inspiration = too much close work

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I've been up to something the last week or so, with the result I can no longer focus past a foot or so... :wacko:

 

First, the teasers:

 

beaded wire.jpg

 

I have finally managed to make beaded wire that looks sort of authentic. That's 18 gauge wire, so the beads are ~1.1mm tall. I have no way to measure the thin bits...plus I have yet to bead smaller wire without cutting it. Using Theophilus's beading file, made by cutting a groove on the narrow edge of a thin flat file (teeth ground off) and sharpening the edges.

 

foil.jpg

 

Can you see where this is going?

 

Here's the die for the foil:

 

foil die.jpg

 

For scale, that bar is 1.25 inches wide, which makes the waffle print about 0.8mm :o

 

Next, an assembly:

 

cloisonne framework.jpg

 

Now to cut some "garnets."

 

garnets.jpg

 

You can see some design ideas that exceed my current skills...

 

BUT: for a proof-of-concept piece I am rather pleased with the result.

 

done 1.jpg

 

done 2.jpg

 

Specs: 1.25" x 1/2" (32mm x 12mm), 5/16" thick (about 3mm make that 7/32", 4mm, sorry!), made of jewelers' brass and red acrylic sheet stock. Finished it last night after working all weekend on it, still can't see straight. It will be a while before I make a pommel out of this stuff, but I think I'm getting there.

 

Thanks for looking.

 

Edited by Alan Longmire
got the thickness wrong

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Wonderful!!!

Great job Alan!! Love it.

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Cool!

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This is fantastic Alan! This is a technique I really want to learn but it is so far out of the range of possibility right now for me! I'm not sure what you meant about how you made the wire, could you share the tool?

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sweet! now you know everythign you need to know to make reproductions of some of the sutton hoo and staffordshire hoard pieces =D I keep wanting to make a pair of the pyramids myself but I dont even know where to start!

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Wow, nicely done. Get a good optivisor maybe, that may help with the eye strain.

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Thank you, gentlemen! I do have an optivisor with #5 and #10 lens plates, couldn't begin to do close work without it. This stuff is TINY, however, and really needs a stereo microscope to see properly. Of course, the ancient goldsmiths didn't have those, so I feel lucky to have the visors.

 

This chunk was inspired by one of the unidentified objects from the Staffordshire Hoard. After doing this, I still can't imagine doing one of the pyramids...All I can say is get good at soldering and use gold if you can, this brass work-hardens if you look at it too long! It starts out softer than silver by half, but at the first touch of a tool it hardens up an amazing amount. It doesn't anneal like silver either, you have to hold it at a low red for a minute or so and DON'T quench.

 

Emiliano, I'll see if I can get a picture. In the meantime think of a single blade with an edge like two thin blades side by side, with a gap of 1mm or less, which you roll over the wire on a hardwood block. Until the wire stops rolling and you cut it, or it goes sideways and leaves a pair of spiral grooves instead of a bead. Once you've got one bead, you have to work by feel, letting one edge of the knife/file snap into the groove from the first bead, roll until you have the next, repeat. Takes about four seconds per bead. Then when you have the length of wire beaded, hit it with a fine wire wheel in a dremel or Foredom tool to take off the flash corners and round up the beads.

 

Mark, I have you and Eldana to thank for the techniques, along with a few academic sources like Leahy and his sources, plus a guy on Academia.edu who figured out the wire brush thing plus a better version of Theophilus' organarium that I can't get to work. Google "anglo saxon beaded wire" and it'll come up. Oh, and for the backing goo under the foils I studied the analyses of surviving bits and found it's mostly a quicklime/gypsum mortar with a little fine sand. Couldn't find a reference to any wax except on some of the non-precious metals. Turns out a carton of patching plaster from the hardware store consists of quicklime, gypsum, and fine sand... ;)

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Very cool Alan. It seems a very convincing progression...

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Thanks, Jim!

 

Emiliano, as I am always at the service of the community I went home for lunch and took a few quickie shots of the beading knife and how it works.

 

AS beading knife 1.jpg

 

As you can see it's an old homeowner-grade nicholson 6" flat mill file. Homeowner grade is the common hardware store type, 2mm thick instead of the industrial grade 3mm thick ones. I cut the groove with gravers and a small triangle file with one edge ground safe, which gives you a nice 60-degree knife file. I annealed it as best I could before cutting the groove.

 

AS beading knife 2.jpg

 

Once the groove is cut I re-hardened it. If I polished it it would have a hamon, because I did a clay-backed water quench for maximum hardness. Sori would be nice as well, but it didn't take any since it wasn't wedge-shaped in section. Theophilus recommends forging the tang so it sticks up at an angle. Snap tempered at around 300 degrees for a minute or two.

Closeup of the groove:

 

AS beading knife 3.jpg

 

Now the wire: 18 gauge NuGold, first pass. To use the tool, press down on the tip end with one hand and push it back and forth slowly with the other, taking great care to stay perpendicular to the wire.

 

AS bead 1.jpg

 

Let one edge of the tool snap into one groove or the other and repeat. I got this one a little sideways so the beading is not crisp as it should be, but I'm doing this for free so suck it up. ;)

 

AS bead 2.jpg

 

Finally, after a quick polish with the wire wheel:

 

AS bead 3.jpg

 

I should note these are all phone camera shots. The macro was done with a nifty little gadget called the Easy Macro, a little lens on a rubber band that fits any smartphone and costs about $8. That wire is 1mm thick in real life, it's a good little lens!

 

 

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When Jeff Pringle and I were experimenting with this after seeing the Hoard here in DC, it occurred to us that one could make the beading knife by using annealed steel or medium iron, unhardened, and forging the tool - cold-hammering the lips down with a tiny hammer gets you both a round inside, and an angled outside to each "edge" of the knife, which can then be hardened, or hardened enough for gold wire. I imagine leaving just a bit of scale or forge texture on the tool would improve the 'grip' on the wire, if it weren't too extreme.

 

Thank you for the pictures and test product - it will be great when we get to the point of producing artifacts using the techniques of the ancients, which seems in this case the only way to do it and have it look "right."

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That could work. Good old Theophilus says " using a piece of steel the length of a finger and the width of a straw" forge and file the knife. I was eagerly awaiting your response to this given your history with beading. Tell Jeff to get his skinny butt back in here! He's too handy for the rest of us to stay sequestered on Facebook...

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I will relay your request this weekend at F&B, since you won't be there to tell him yerowndarnself.

 

:P

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Very cool! Thanks for the pics, and description of the tool!

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Alan - great stuff. I have been wearing an Optivisor a lot lately, too. Vision ain't what it used to be, and I am caring enough about the file details now to need the help.

 

That was a great first run for beading and for the garnet inlay scheme. Doing a lot of hard soldering and brazing myself too (working silver, man I love to work silver).

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Way cool Alan! Your beads are looking really good, and the overall feel is indeed reminiscent of what I saw of the Hoard. When are you going to try with real garnets :rolleyes: (kidding...for now)

 

John

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Great stuff Allan , we will make a decent goldsmith out of you yet, kids did a lot of assembly of filigree work, their eyes were so much better.

 

Richard

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Alan thanks so much for sharing the pictures! Your service to the community is greatly appreciated ;)

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OOOOOOOOOOOOh and aWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW and WOW, Alan I like that but, it does look like a whole lot of work, very kool!!! B)

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Tisk tisk! Acrylic! For shame :P

good start mate, when i get back from my time in sydney on the weekend i will show you how to get sharp bent corners on your cell walls easily. One critque i can give is i think you use toomuch solder getting the cell walls together making a meniscus that will seriously fuck you up when you graduate to doing the real stuff. Yep ive been useing plasterand sand recently too :) how have you secured the 'stones'? Burnished in, hammer set, glue, friction fit? You are definatly on your way, where your destination is you may never know

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Also your cell walls are way too thick. If the beaded wire is 1.1mm that would tell me that your cell walls are about 1mm. Try using 0.5mm if not thinner it will make life much eaiser and it will look closer to the originals. Ive mostly used .5 on my stuff and am thinking of trying .3mm on a future project

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Thanks again, folks!

 

Eldana, you caught me on all counts. I agree the walls are far too thick, and I have some .5mm on the way. It will no doubt be far easier to shape! The "stones" are sort of friction/hammer set. Even though the fit looks awful in the closeup they are all very tight except that one mushroom. Tried to burnish it in and realized at that point how truly over-thick my walls are...

 

Got a new round of axe commissions coming up, but I will not let this go, fear not.

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