Pierced globe Incense Burner, Mamluk period (1250–1517), late 13th–early 14th century. Syria, Damascus. British Museum.
Zayn al-Din. Incense Burner or Handwarmer. 15th – 16th c. gilded brass with silver inlay. Walters Art Museum.
Knowing my interests, my friend and remarkable scholar, Dr. Stephennie Mulder sent me the image of the gimbaled censer above. The link to the British Museum (which seems to be dead now) stated that the gimbals keep the incense cup from spilling its contents while swinging but this seems overly fussy to me considering the centrifugal forces of swinging itself solve that problem.
Another site suggested that these type of censers were used in games and rolled from one guest to another. I suppose this would work if it were a very low impact game but any amount of velocity or impact and I think the host’s carpet would suffer some damage from errant embers.
The description of “hand warmer” makes a lot more sense to me. In this case the mechanism would function perfectly. Unfortunately, I can’t confirm that the Walters object is also gimbaled though it must have some kind of suspension for without it the orb would certainly be too hot handle with bare hands.
All these pragmatic issues aside, both of these objects are virtuosic expressions of master metal smiths and are a delight to they eyes. What a pleasure it would also be to hold one of these in my hands!
The Vigilante, etched brass sheet, brass wire. 5.25″ x 3″, 2012
The Insomniac, etched brass sheet, brass wire. 3″ x 5.25″, 2012
The Aeronaut, etched brass sheet, brass wire. 5″ x 3.25″, 2012
The Voyeur, etched brass sheet, brass wire. 4″ x 4″, 2010
I was sitting across from the rotating sign
For the Liberty Brass Turning Company
Automatic Screw Machine Products
And brooding about our fathers
Always on the make to make more money
Screw Machine Products Automatic
Tender wounded brassy unsystematic
Free American men obsessing about margins
Machine Products Automatic Screw
Selling every day of their God-damned lives
To some Liberty Brass Turning Company
Products Automatic Screw Machine
Until they were screwed into boxes
And planted in plots paid and unpaid
Automatic Screw Machine Products
(From the March 15, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.)
I’ve long wanted to do more “how to” videos. It just so happens that many of the things I know “how to” do are really weird and likely useful to no one but me. Nonetheless, the video was almost as much fun to make as the brass wire rope.
Best of all, check out my super-sophisticated iPhone camera mount. A steady-cam it’s not.
Hanging out by the cupric chloride jacuzzi after an indulgent 20 minute etch.
A lacquer thinner rub down for toner exfoliation.
Relaxing with friends.
A quick dip in phosphoric acid for a really dark tan.
Never in my years of working with Press-n-Peel Blue have I ever had such a perfect transfer (both front and back). And this was my first try using new methods and equipment. I’ll be posting my notes with additional images later on.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to imbibe a rather large glass of my Father’s Day port.
Though originally I had planned to silk screen the acid resist for the angels, I think that in the long run reverting to the PnP Blue method of toner transfer that I’m already familiar will work out better. Like many users of PnP, I have been frustrated by the consistency of transfer. Sometimes I could get a really clean transfer and other times — total failure. The image below shows both.
Also, most of the tutorials that I have read focus on PCB etching. While the principles are the same there are many tricks that I have found to adapt the basic techniques to larger scale, art etchings on brass.
I’m taking notes and better quality photos. When I can catch my breath I’ll be writing a detailed tutorial for this method of resist toner transfer for artists.
Left: What’s left of the PnP Blue carrier. Right: Toner transferred to 20 gauge brass.