Tag Archives: enamel

Luxury to penitence

I was quite stuck today in class when I saw the the ivory casket of Abd al-Malik. I was reminded immediately of the Limoges enamel reliquary casket form. Looking into it a little more this evening I found the last image below where an Muslim made casket has had Christian enamel added.

Leyre Casket, Cordoba, c. 1005.

Enamel reliquary, Limoges, 1200-20.

Ivory casket with enamel decoration from Santo Domingo de Silos. Spain. 1026.

Courage from Verdun’s lion

The last few days I have become rather obsessed on exactly how I plan to put the final finish on the Idle Angels. Which abrasive? On a wheel or by hand? How fine? Perhaps a buffing wheel?

Before this I have obsessed over getting the illustrations “perfect” and laying out the resists perfectly and organizing the studio. I know my self well enough to realize that all these little obsessions and productive procrastinations are really manifestations of fear. Some of this fear is justified in that the materials are expensive and my time is extremely limited. I also know that I’ve reached the limit of what I can plan for without taking some risks.

But returning to the question of finish, today I received courage from two master craftsmen.

The first is Tim McCreight’s simple advice from The Complete Metalsmith: An Illustrated Handbook:

“Keep in mind that there is no universal “right” finish. You can stop at any point that complements the piece.”

The second dose of courage came from Nicholas of Verdun and a close-up image from his famous altar. Seeing the directional scratches in this masterwork (there is no work of art that I regard more highly) gave me the fortitude to stop planning and start making.

A lion’s head. Close-up from the panel &Noah’s Ark of the Verdun Altar. The full plaque can be seen at the Lessing Photo Archive.

“Bras en L’Air” French Clock

Bras en l'air clock. French. c. 1890.

I’m not really much for clocks but I am a sucker for alternate formats of time keeping. Here is a gorgeous timepiece of the bras en l’air (arms in the air) type listed for sale on eBay by Musical Treasures of Miami. The reserve is only $27,500.

From the perspective of an automata maker who must incorporate a timepiece into a design as some kind of nod to utility, this alternate hand placement opens up a host of compositional options not available to the traditional round, twelve-numbered face.

I’d love to get a peek at that mechanism. More research is needed and The Hour Lounge appears to be a good place to start.

Here is the full text:

This is an exceptionally rare and beautiful French clock, c.1890. Stands about 19″ high.

The gilded robed goddess standing atop the marble base has her arms outstretched. The hand of her right arm points to the hour, and the left hand points to the minutes, which are delineated in 5-minute increments. The gilding contrasts most beautifully with the blue enameled backdrop behind the goddess.

The platform escapement movement works perfectly, translating the clockworks through a clever linkage to the two arms, which when they reach their uppermost point fall dramatically to the lower starting position.

Every detail of this clock is in stunning condition, from the marble base with gilt trim, the goddess, time numerals, etc., are all flawless and without a scratch or mark.

This clock comes from the private collection of noted antique collector and authority Edgar G. Miller, who also published many books about antiques.

(as posted at The Automata / Automaton Blog)

Stavelot triptych

More mosan enamel inspiration.

Stavelot Triptych, Mosan, Belgium, c. 1158.

Stavelot Triptych, Belgium, c. 1158.
The Morgan Library & Museum.

Mosan enamel

Years ago when I began researching medieval art I was searching for a muse. I found it here. The color, composition, expressiveness, and exaggerated gesture make this work an abiding source of inspiration.

from Medieval Enamels and Sculptures from the Keir Collection, Marilyn Stokstad, Adoration of the Magi, Southern Germany, c. 1340.

from Medieval Enamels and Sculptures from the Keir Collection by Marilyn Stokstad.
Adoration of the Magi champleve plaque, Southern Germany, c. 1340.