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Anglo-Saxon inspiration = too much close work


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Dan, just got to see those videos, thanks! I'll be making more beading tools that way for sure. Probably won't polish 'em to 1100 grit with loose SiC, but still. And the use of leather over stone is brilliant. Too bad about the music choice... :lol:

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I know I'm going to sound like "that guy," but I'm almost more interested in how they did it back then, than figuring out a way to replicate the results without replicating the process. I want to unde

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I know I'm going to sound like "that guy," but I'm almost more interested in how they did it back then, than figuring out a way to replicate the results without replicating the process. I want to understand how some dood without an optivisor, clean fine file, jeweler's saw, and manufactured abrasives did it. Not as a matter of snobbery, either... if I could buy 10 feet of beaded 0.5mm gold wire, I would, and make cool stuff with it and never worry about the process. But I'm enchanted by the process itself, how someone took the time to figure out how to do this without modern conveniences, and still got a good product. Those videos got me thinking about this again, and I may have to dive back down the rabbit-hole to come up with what I think might have been the way... and document it, of course, for all to share.

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I have to live up to your example, Petr!

 

And Chris, me too. I just can't see. The beading can be done by feel. I did all the sheet work with shears and chisels, no saw. The way I see it (pun intended), at 45 I'd be dead then, so I feel okay with using the visor. I have the myopia down, it's the astigmatism that gets in the way!

 

Now if only someone would give me a few pounds of gold and a pile of garnets to play with...

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I know I'm going to sound like "that guy," but I'm almost more interested in how they did it back then, than figuring out a way to replicate the results without replicating the process. I want to understand how some dood without an optivisor, clean fine file, jeweler's saw, and manufactured abrasives did it. Not as a matter of snobbery, either... if I could buy 10 feet of beaded 0.5mm gold wire, I would, and make cool stuff with it and never worry about the process. But I'm enchanted by the process itself, how someone took the time to figure out how to do this without modern conveniences, and still got a good product. Those videos got me thinking about this again, and I may have to dive back down the rabbit-hole to come up with what I think might have been the way... and document it, of course, for all to share.

 

Alan answered the question of "without an optivisor",people with myopia have been chosen for centuries to do intricate close work before hand held magnifying glasses were available.

 

"Jeweler's saw" .. a copper wire with an abrasive slurry can cut almost anything.Natural abrasives have been used to cut and polish gemstones for thousands of years.

 

At one time there was an article of how to cut and polish an opal in a pie pan by hand,an abrasive stone,a few pieces of leather,abrasive/polishing powders,and time.

 

Alan, you could take a trip to Franklin,NC and dig your own garnets. :rolleyes:

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Alan answered the question of "without an optivisor",people with myopia have been chosen for centuries to do intricate close work before hand held magnifying glasses were available.

 

"Jeweler's saw" .. a copper wire with an abrasive slurry can cut almost anything.Natural abrasives have been used to cut and polish gemstones for thousands of years.

 

At one time there was an article of how to cut and polish an opal in a pie pan by hand,an abrasive stone,a few pieces of leather,abrasive/polishing powders,and time.

 

Alan, you could take a trip to Franklin,NC and dig your own garnets. :rolleyes:

 

I'm sorry I elicited this reaction. I know there are analogues to our modern tools in history, the theory is well established... but every youtube video, or forum post, that I've seen so far on this particular subject, reverts to manufactured precision tools at some point. All I'm saying is, I'd like to see (and it may be me who does it, or someone else, I've no ego in this) a successful attempt using period technique and tooling to help validate all the theory and knowledge we've acquired through archaeology and research. Saying it can be done, and doing it, are a little different to me, and I would hope we could have a successful model of the old ways to refer to in our modern times through demonstration. That's all.

 

I know I sound like the guys who cry out against katana-makers, "You didn't use Japanese sand! You're not Japanese and schooled in their technique! You used a POWER HAMMER... ye gods!" I hate it when I get that kind of criticism... so I'm trying really hard to distinguish my intent, even though my words aren't doing a great job. Not having a living tradition of Anglo-Saxon embellishment techniques among us, I think it's a worthy goal for the community to reach for a historical "proof" of the techniques available at the time, which will help explain the methods, which can go on to help explain all the other dependencies, such as the trade secrets, the access to materials and knowledge required to do this sort of work, the relationship between the craftsmen and the cutlers and the patrons... it all goes together, and while we can talk about process, I just want to see one of us actually pull it off someday to the knowledge will be within our living community, and not just a speculative (no matter how well-researched) paper. Please don't take me as putting Alan down, or Mark, or anyone else who's attempted to re-created the elements of these artifacts. Rather, I'm encouraging us all to keep going, keep pushing, towards an authentic replication for the sake of the knowledge of what it took in antiquity to get the job done.

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As a person who is extremely myopic (little worse than -10) it makes sense about people with that type of eyesight would do such work. Past say, 6-10", I can't see clearly at all (sadly I might be giving myself credit), but within my clear range of sight I can see very small details that most peopl with normal vision can't normally see.

 

Chris, I agree with wanting to know the original process. It is certainly fascinating at the level of ingenuity craftsman have and is a larval to behold.

 

Alan, that is some fantastic work, and thanks for sharing. It's really exciting to see how you are going to implement this into future work. It will surely bring it to a completely different level!

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Allan, it's astigmatism that kills me too! After an hour with files, I develope a migrain of note! damn old age!( And I'm only 19...as my picture clearly shows! A braver man than me you are!

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I know I'm going to sound like "that guy," but I'm almost more interested in how they did it back then, than figuring out a way to replicate the results without replicating the process. I want to understand how some dood without an optivisor, clean fine file, jeweler's saw, and manufactured abrasives did it. Not as a matter of snobbery, either... if I could buy 10 feet of beaded 0.5mm gold wire, I would, and make cool stuff with it and never worry about the process. But I'm enchanted by the process itself, how someone took the time to figure out how to do this without modern conveniences, and still got a good product. Those videos got me thinking about this again, and I may have to dive back down the rabbit-hole to come up with what I think might have been the way... and document it, of course, for all to share.

 

Chris, don't get me wrong, I have no interest in mass producing beaded wire, or any other period material. The comment was made at the end of a long day spent figuring out how to set up a production run on a press, with a head full of tooling. I started out as a goldsmith, and given the choice, I'd still rather be paid for fine hand work than machine work, whether it's beaded wire, chasing, or hollow ware. I'm much more interested in the process used then, than running a press to make the stuff.

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Alan, what tools did you use to make the foil die? After watching the museum's video on their attempt to replicate the foil with "modern" tech,I have a few ideas for 8th century construction.

 

One problem I have is the dimensions of the "cross hatch" lines on the die,most photos really don't anything for size reference.

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I used a #6 square graver to cut the fine lines, and a homemade tiny half-round to cut the larger lines. The foil is .001" shim stock, and I used a stiff leather pad and my 3lb hammer to set the pattern. I estimate my grid is on the order of 0.7mm, which was as fine as I felt capable of cutting deep lines that day. Some of the measured foils, Sutton Hoo in particular, are as fine as 0.3mm, but the later stuff from the Staffordshire Hoard and finds like the Kingston Down brooches are more like 0.5mm. I thought about using a lining graver, but thought that would be cheating. I will still try it someday of course. ;) I'll use a tiny onglette to cut the fine lines next time. On a day when the engraving gods are with me, of course.

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There seems to a number of opinions on how things were made and where the materials originated. If you are going to make the filigree metal work ,you need to throw away the solder as they were "eutectic"soldered like the granulation process.

 

The speaker in the garnet vid doesn't seem familiar with weathered and fractured stones,pieces can be flat without sawing.

 

If you haven't viewed these videos,there a some valid points. https://vimeo dot com/user4699352/videos

Edited by DanM
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Not having a living tradition of Anglo-Saxon embellishment techniques among us...

 

Chris, we do have a living tradition of Anglo-Saxon embellishment among us, but the cultural dynamism that has made Europe the dominant arbiter of culture has also meant that the decorative arts of the 10th century are very different from those of today. You can however see a continuity between Norse and Celtic arts, which become Romanesque, then Gothic, then.. whatever comes after Gothic, Renaissance? The innovation and cultural exchange are part of what makes them what they are. And I'm not saying that "Norse" or"Celtic" decorative arts existed in some kind of pure state, they were just as much a product of cultural exchange and innovation.

I do understand what your main point is, of course, and that my comments do not directly pertain to it.

 

Anyway; I do believe that magnifying glasses have been around for a very long time. I'm sure the guys making hgh end products had access to the high end tools. I believe stamp or die work has been around for a very long time, too. I read somewhere long ago that the proliferation of stamp work in early Gothic ironwork (12th-13th century) was believed to have come about because a goldsmith had broken ranks and spilled the beans on how it was done.

Having churned out hundreds of yards of beaded wire myself on hand-cranked rollers (the real reason I have one arm like Hulk Hogan, one arm like Mr. Bean. Nothing to do with Onanism of Herculean vigour, as some might like to suggest!), I wouldn't be surprised if dies or stamps (i.e. negative beading) played a part in Anglo Saxon goldsmithing, perhaps even combined with the endlessly linnear journey of the wheel in some way? Not rollers as we know them, but a very primitive expression of them? Perhaps a half or quarter circle?

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There seems to a number of opinions on how things were made and where the materials originated. If you are going to make the filigree metal work ,you need to throw away the solder as they were "eutectic"soldered like the granulation process.

 

The speaker in the garnet vid doesn't seem familiar with weathered and fractured stones,pieces can be flat without sawing.

 

If you haven't viewed these videos,there a some valid points. https://vimeo dot com/user4699352/videos

 

If you provide the gold (14k or higher) I'll do eutectic soldering on the filigree wire. ;) Doesn't work on brass, unfortunately. The cells were indeed soldered with some sort of hard solder technique, according to research undertaken by Elizabeth Coatsworth and Michael Pinder (The Art of the Anglo-Saxon Goldsmith, Boydell Press 2002). They also mention a theory that a very few pieces of base metal cloisonne was not soldered at all, but was simply pressed into the backing paste. They then show via example this is apparently not true except for a few repairs.

 

Eutectic soldering works by placing high-grade gold or silver in contact with a little copper salts, then heating in a reducing atmosphere. When the copper oxides reduce to pure copper they instantly alloy with the gold or silver, forming a bond leaving no residue. This happens at almost the melting point of all three metals, so you have to watch really carefully for the flash when it runs and take it off the heat that instant or you're holding a puddle.

 

Since brass is mostly copper, the same technique won't work, the whole thing will just melt. It might be possible to use a tin oxide to do the same thing, but the ancients don't seem to have bothered so I don't either. B)

 

I have not watched all those videos, some won't load for me. Mr. Leahy is one of my sources, of course. He also doesn't mention that under certain circumstances garnets formed in mica can be flat to begin with. Garnet does not cleave like diamond, though, it shatters with a heavy conchoidal fracture. I find it interesting that with all the research that has been done on the garnets nobody can agree on where the heck they came from. Possible sources include southwest Sweden, Bohemia, Andalusia, Georgia (the one on the Black Sea, not the one in the USA), India, and Sri Lanka. They have yet to find a chemical signature unique enough to discern the origin. It IS known that the technique originated in central asia (possibly what is now the Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan region) and spread west during the Migration Period, so it makes sense the garnets may have come from central asia as well. If you've ever watched a jeweler from that part of the world work you'd see it's no big deal to slap a bunch of stones on a board and grind them flat just like the way we still grind lenses and telescope mirrors. But I digress. There are many, many ways it can be done and no way to prove which one or ones were used. Coatsworth and Pinder go into great detail about all of that.

 

Dan P., the phrase "Onanism of Herculean vigour" is now quite possibly my favorite quote from this forum! :lol: I confess I did spend time looking for a rolling mill roller with full bead impressions, but as I can't afford a rolling mill anyway I abandoned the notion as impractical for me. Plus it's fast enough with the beading knife once you've got the technique figured out. Theophilus does describe a kind of swaging die for beading, but it seems to work best on larger beads than most of the Anglo-Saxon wire.

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Alan.... could you post a photo of the die grid with a mm ruler for size reference ? I am more of a "hands" on person and enlarged photos are hard to get perspective.

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Not only will I do that (twice), I'll raise you one. Using the method of making beading knives in those videos you posted I made a pair of new beading knives yesterday, one for 22-gauge wire and one for 28-gauge wire. The beaded wire I used on this test piece is 18-gauge, which was the smallest I could do with the methods I was trying.

 

The die and foils from two angles:

 

AS foil die 1.jpg

 

AS foil die 2.jpg

 

As you can see I did this die quick and dirty. Some of the grid is 1mm, some is .5mm, and not a straight line to be seen. The next one will be better.

 

Here's the wires and knives with the ruler for scale. The 28-ga. is so thin it has to be done by feel, I can't see it clearly even with the optivisor. I wouldn't even use it if it werent for a pic Chris Price posted on the "Staffordshire Webchat" pinned topic in the History subforum that showed that size wire in use.

 

AS bead 4.jpg

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Alan............ thanks,now that I see the dimensions I know where to start.Only thing I am missing is the foil,which seems to have gone missing from a project 5 years ago.

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Very interesting work Alan! I applaud your dedication to stare at tiny things forever. I'm with you the myopia + astigmatism...

 

As I was looking at the tooling and the video of making the filigree wire tool, a thought occurred to me. Is there any reason that a tool with multiple grooves couldn't be (or wouldn't have been, on the historical side) made? I'm thinking almost of a checkering file with a more rounded profile to the teeth and missing the cross-cuts. Is there historical evidence to support that each bead was done individually? I haven't seen any historical pieces using this technique in person, but I'd sure be looking for a regular pattern in the beaded wire to support rolling multiple beads at once.

 

If nothing else, it would take you from 4 seconds per bead to ~4-6 seconds for 2 or 3 or 4 beads...

 

-d

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