Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Diary of an Antiquary, Part 1

OK, time to make our way into my new piece, which at the time of this writing is still unfinished. As you'll see, there were many wrong turns, unexpected twists and first occurances during the last month of working on this, my most ambitious wearable work.

The springboard object that began the process for me was this lovely wooden frame that housed two thick glass lenses; this assembly was made for a hand-held stereoopticon, or 3-D viewer, from around 1870. I picked it up in Baltimore, as I recall, a few years back. Right in the antique store I saw the potential for this object to be sawn into an enclosing structure, and so it was with this in mind, and nothing else, that I began working. This was begun back in late June, during the construction of 'Two Sides of History.'

The committment is made!

I made the provisional decision not to use the lenses in this piece, as they are very very heavy. They'll wait for a future opportunity, so into storage they go.

This simple strap hinge, from an old Sterno can cover, served as inspiration for the hinge design.

A key was chosen to act as a turning handle that will open and close the two halves. This key would later fail (see below) and be replaced with a stronger key.

The key cut down and being readied for drilling, to accept a brass bar.

It was this small rivet that compromised the integrity of this key and bar, and I didn't trust its structural strength, so the next key was soldered in place.

Designing the hinge, using a photocopy of the bottom of the wood frames as a template.

Sawing the hinge.

The sides will bend around the wood.

The hinge starting to be shaped.

The brass bar has been soldered to the middle knuckle of the hinge.

Now the wood iwas carved out to allow the hinge to be recessed a bit.

And two beautiful labradorites were inserted into drilled holes.

'KL - IX' was pierced into the hinge...

...and backed with a doublet of New Zealand paua shell.

With attention turned towards the glass panels, I tried four different designs, none of which felt right. Above, one of the attempts. The iridescent silver glass has been slumped into a brass keyhole. It will be saved for possible future use.

Much more suited to my structure are these two beautiful pieces of opalized glass I unearthed from my garden after I moved in to the house a few years ago.

A page from a Victorian children's book.

She was affixed to one of the glass panels. The other I decided to keep unadorned.

Coming up with the scaffolding around the wood, allowing the piece to hang, involved a few days of unsuccessful pathways. I've learned over the years not to lose heart, as it seems when I'm most at a loss, the solution is about to show itself. Which it did. I've had this lovely object for about 12 years, just waiting. I believe it is part of a horse harness or farm equipment - can anyone elaborate? Would love to get more info about it.

Removed from the rest of the object, this will be a real focal point and provides the asymmetry that gives my brain the most satisfying problems to solve.

Fabricating elements to help everything hang.

The two long bars will run down the sides of the wood.

Serendipity stepped in and I came up with a new, lo-tech way to turn designs into the bars. Wow, this was a major discovery for me, and one I'll make a lot of use of. I chuckled for hours about this.

Laying the elements into position, I can assess how it will start to come together. There were some big unexpected changes on the horizon as I got ready to fabricate a unique hasp to close the box on top.

Tune in later in the week for the next installment.

- Keith


  1. Love finding how your mind works to utilise bits of stuff.
    Keep sending the blogs.

    Wish I could clear my way to do some stuff-stuff.
    But like poetry, inspiration needs space and time to germinate.

  2. True, Susanne - give yourself some time, you'll be surprised how little you'd need to get things going! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Your imagination never ceases to amaze me Keith, I would never have thought of using any of those pieces that way. It looks fabulous, can't wait for the next installment.

  4. looking at that, i'd say it's part of a horse bit! I'm not certain, but it looks like it would be. The bit is the part that goes into the horse's mouth... it kind of looks like the part that goes into the mouth snapped off and all taht's really left is the cheek piece taht goes with it. I don't know what kind of bit that would be, though, as there are a variety of different types.

  5. Wow! Talk about Stuffsmith - well & truly! This is awonderful Keith. Who would of thought of fabricating such a piece using a 3-D viewer? How your thought processes and imagination create. I am waiting in anticipation now, to see the end result.

  6. I suspect the brass ring would've been part of a light harness - rein rings perhaps or maybe even hames on a light collar - as they are delicate (so not on a heavy pulling harness) and decorative. They would've been polished to an inch of their life. Driving harness was all about show.

  7. Yet again you dont disapoint us in your imagination, I was intrigued by the 'low tech' approach to turning....! and inspired by your courage to cut the wooden frame in half.

    Great post and in true theatre we have to wait to see the finished piece. Please hurry. :-)


  8. Oh Keith this is totally amazing I love seeing the processes of your work.Cant wait to see the rest

  9. Keith thank you for showing your process that alone is confusing and inspiring. Love seeing your minds eye. Makes me feel truely at home.
    I have a slew of metal bits and doo dads and I seem to lack the industriousness to put things together. It seems I need to become familiar with new tools. Glue is just not working out.
    Thank you so much for your openess.

  10. This is beyond awesome!! Love your work and waiting impatiently for the next chapter :)

  11. Your work is wonderful! How awesome to see it every step of the way...thanks..Joy

  12. Hi Keith,
    I think that the piece in question is off of a horse collar, in particular the hames. The asymetrical quality really makes this piece! I truly enjoy seeing your process posted. Thank you for sharing!

  13. You amaze me!! Loved watching each step!!!

  14. Your brass and wood piece looks to me as though it is part of a pair of hames that attach on either side to the collar a draught/carriage horse wears around its neck.
    The rectangle at the top holds one side of a strap that runs to the opposite hame on the other side of the collar.
    The large loop would carry a long rein from the driver/plowman's hand to the bit in the horse's mouth. Decorative brass and size suggests a pony collar.

  15. Simply inspiring... you make me want to learn more and create more. Thank you.