Friday, July 2, 2010

Poetical Modesty, In Progress - Stage 4.

In this post we'll see Poetical Modesty come together from its many component parts.

The last thing to do before attacking the wooden box (still a frightening prospect) is to remove the end nuts of the candelabra arms (each of these held a candlestick holder). I decide, since it's a lovely clover shape, that I can reuse at least one of them in the piece.

Sawing the end pieces off...

...and replacing them with more curved tubing.

The time is here at last. I trace the line of the frame to be cut away in the back of the box.

'Round these parts, we call this: Voiding The Warranty.

Only a very deep saw frame will cut a panel this large. This jeweler's saw has a 10" throat.

Pierced. Now to finish the edges and carve the inside away to allow for the glass to slide in.

An exciting moment comes when I can view the glass behind the shape of the frame. With a rush I realize the piece is really coming together.

An intimidating image - the box laid low.

Painted black with black silk velvet about to line the interior.

Now the bottom edge of the box is carved to inset the candelabra.

This brass plate has been etched and will drop into the inside bottom panel of the box for some extra stability.

After making a bolt out of one of the clover ends of the candelabra, I can thread it through to see if it will do the trick. All set here.

Another big moment - attaching the side pulley structures. As soon as these are on I have the bare bones of the machine assembled - it will stand on its own now.

I spend a good amount of time with it at this stage, trying to see what else should be addressed before going much further. The box interior now gets lined with beautiful velvet. I can't find proper silk velvet after looking at several shops (only synthetic), so I come home and cut the corner out of my dear and valuable 22-year-old old piece of backdrop velvet for my photographing. Painful but necessary.

Time to get the brass frame finished and mounted to the box.

Piercing square holes into the corners, to inlay four beautiful cut Czech crystal cubes.

These are joined by some very old brass floral elements that I just acquired on my last US trip.

The back, painted and polished to let the glass slide easily.

This is how it will read when it's finished. I love the ornate framing.

Fabricating a cross-brace so the uprights don't bend inwards with the strain of lifting the glass.

Turning to making an assembly from which to suspend the glass, I choose these great old steel nut picks, which I'll saw apart and join in the middle so the ball ends face outward.

Annealing them to allow for drilling.

Here's a delicate moment - tapping threads into the holes to put in some set-screws. So delicate, in fact, that about one minute after this photo is snapped, something else snaps. So with the tap broken off deep in the nut pick, I chalk up a full day to a blind alley and look for a different hanging element. It doesn't take too long to come up with a Plan B.

I've picked up this brass/steel turnbuckle over and over again through the years, but obviously it was waiting for it's time. I can see that this device will allow me the benefit of being able to adjust the arms in and out for the best width.

The loops are sawn open and drilling starts for making set-screw areas.

The brass piece in the center has been made more ornate. Note the tiny set-screws in place near the ends. These will be replaced later with bigger ones, as the screw heads prove too delicate.

I finally un-tape the chain and allow it to spool out. I can hardly believe I'll see it in one piece so soon.

Screwing the box back (now front, from here on!) into position.

The clover-bolt attaches box to base and the machine, minus a few more bits, is together. Only about a day or two away from actually, dare I say, testing it.

Tune in next week for the final posting.



  1. OMG every time you update I think how can this man get any better.Im in awe of you Keith a true Craftsman always pushes himself to the next level and you my friend have done this and then some.
    You totally amaze and inspire me to try more.

  2. This is truly amazing! It's so uncredibly beautiful. And you seem to be a fantastic problem solver :D

  3. You are a freakin genius. Thank you so much for sharing your creative process. (The piece is beautiful, can't wait to see it in motion.)

  4. Mad genius! You're from another time and place, Keith. You must be channeling someone from the 19th century. When I die I want to be dreaming of living in a world that is surrounded with your creations.

  5. Ah Keith,
    You are such a tease. Just when I thought I was going to see the final piece you make me wait until next week. I am really looking forward to this one, I was always a fan of your bigger sculptural pieces. It has been way too long, hope to catch up one day soon.

  6. Keith, it just keeps getting better and better. I can't WAIT to see the final installment!!

  7. What an amazing treasure! Congrats on a beautiful piece of artisan craftsmanship.