Monday, June 30, 2014

progress report

in which our plucky heroine surveys progress in ways large and small...

Decided to go ahead and set one of the Anglo Saxon enamels, as a brooch inspired by the historic settings. The entire brooch is 27mm across the widest dimension, so very very small indeed... The small glass spheres, which are less than 2mm diameter, I made by melting individual seed beads into spheres... the torch I have was not the correct setup for that, but it did work, though it blackened more than half of each sphere.

As I don't have any high-copper bronze, and am not going to fire-gild* the setting, I chose to use brass sheet metal for the setting, and I did have a small piece of serrated bezel in brass which I used for the enamel bezel (as I feel that the serrated edge puts less pressure on the enamel than straight bezel wire) I used RTV glue to hold the tiny glass spheres in the circular collars on each of the seven lugs. So this brooch is an interpretation, rather than a strict re-creation, but I am still quite pleased with the effect.

I plan on making more settings, refining the design to more accurately reflect the originals (trying out using straight brass bezel wire, and consulting with my glass guru Jen Ariadne about possible alternate ways to make tiny glass spheres)

*Fire-gilding, also known as mercury gilding, is an ancient method of gilding non-precious metal, involving making an amalgam of gold and mercury, then driving off the mercury with heat, leaving behind the gold on the surface of the material. It is both lovely and durable, but a very toxic process, unsuitable for home use, and modernly superseded by other, differently toxic, methods of gold deposition.
June was a productive month, though it sure didn't feel like one! Made good progress on catching up on the SMART goals. The things made category is only two behind, things fixed is only five behind, and even the furthest behind, things gone, was more than halfway improved, with eleven out of eighteen... I am starting to feel like this year long challenge will be a success, my efforts are improving things.

June SMART goal challenge
1 thread-winders SR silver chain  backyard yardwaste
2 red rose
heart pendant
backyard meadow
bag to paper recycling
3 red rose earrings half craftwall
bag to paper recycling
4 2nd sports bra sleeve bands
on green gown
bag to paper recycling
5 duvet cover SPQR pendant
metal scrap to recycling
6 embroidered
red horses
bag to Goodwill
7 nine tiny enamels workbench
bag to Goodwill
8 green silk
SR brooch setting paper recycling
9 * setting for one
Anglo Saxon enamel
bag to Goodwill
10 * * bag to Goodwill
11 ---------- * bag to paper recycling
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... leading up to...
July SMART goal challenge
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5 * * *
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  1. thank you Ruthie! Every now and again I become all obsessed with a project, sometimes it is a sewing challenge, and right now it is these tiny 10th/11th c Anglo Saxon enamels... I think that part of why they are so fascinating to me is that there are quite a few that have been found, which makes me think that they were a more common but still high status object, rather like some of our own high status accessories. They may have been worn by people and then sadly lost... though their loss is our gain, to find a thousand years in the future... Most of the archaeological finds of these were made by people out in fields with metal detectors, rather than from graves or excavations...

  2. Your enamels are really gorgeous! And I love the tiny size and the history you've based them on. I can easily imagine a little brooch escaping from its owner and falling to the ground to hide for a thousand years.