Horology is Hot

Really… I know that sounds kind of like a buzzword… but horology is hot! People are engaged with horology, cultural heritage and preservation right now! And it’s awesome! I am so excited that friends and colleagues are getting so much attention.

My favorite object in the world (!!) is headed to London to be featured in a new exhibition on Robots!

 

The clockmakers museum also moved to a new gallery at the Science Museum in London. Now folks visiting the Science Museum will have the exposure to a collection that holds such an incredible and rich history for horology. It’s all such wonderful news and momentum for our field.

And to top it off, Atlas Obscura just published on article on yours truly….you can read it here!

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Let’s keep it going! Get involved! Be engaged! Study! Create! Explore! You know where to reach me if you need a push.

 

 

Toy Automata Booth August 13th

Hey there everyone! I hope you’re enjoying your summer – somehow Seattle managed to escape the heat that seems to have enveloped America. So with that – I’m excited to announce I’ll be hosting a booth in Seattle at the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade. Come visit and save yourself from the shine wave.

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I’m going to be making automaton toys out of card board, paper, and other materials with kids. I’ll also have copies of my first issue of the Horologica Obscura zine and it’s all free!  It’s filled with some exciting (but true) short stories about magicians and other odd happenings, a magic trick or two, and some patterns from my (soon to be out!) coloring book.  I hope you’ll make the trek! Come learn about gear loops, cams, and simple mechanisms.

Here are some of the toys I’ve made for examples.  A little cardboard goes a long way!

Dearly Beloved Banjos

We are gathered here today for a number of important updates. It has certainly been some time since my last post. I have been working on quite a few projects in the mean time. One being the launch of my colleague David’s new website: Lindow Machine Works. Check it out if you get a chance – his many talents and broad range of work are finally showcased. If you want to know more about his Lindow Rose Engine – there’s an easy to navigate Menu of his products (thank you again to Alexandre David for the amazing photograph of the Lindow Machine). If you are interested in his gorgeous custom clocks – there’s an incredible number of photographs showing the many movement styles he offers, dials, and finished cases in his Movement Gallery.

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David and I also presented a paper in Montreal at the American Institute of Conservation for Historic and Artistic Works 44th Conference on Guilloche work in conservation. The paper will soon be available through the post prints journal through the AIC.

Here’s an excerpt to peek your interest:

“The rose engine lathe is used in a broad scope of work that varies from decorative ivories to pottery, clocks, watches, and snuff boxes as well as glass molds, the printing of stamps, stock certificates, and plastic injection moldings. It stands as an enigma to all but a small group of artisans that use these machines. Despite the broad range of use, the techniques employed by these machines are seldom explained in books and publications. Often, the use of the rose engine in the creation of an object is not mentioned, even in instances where the machine was used to decorate the entire piece. In conservation a working knowledge of how an object was made is not only useful, but may be as crucial as knowing the materials with which it was made. With little scholarly work on the subject we endeavor here to scratch the surface and give a brief account of both the machine’s history and how it was used in the hope that it will foster further study. To this end we conducted a literature review, produced a catalogue of sixty common patterns, and prepared and treated twenty-eight metal samples. The samples consist of composition 353 brass, nickel silver, and fine silver. Using common non-conservation based treatment methods we aim to show how patterns become distorted and demonstrate the effects of oxidation on the reflective surfaces that give guilloche its characteristic flash. It is our hope that this will spur discussion about how to treat these highly reflective surfaces, as the characteristic flash of guilloche is arguably its most important tangible property.”

In addition to working on this paper with David, I have partnered with Al Collins on another project in the works. I’ll give you a sneak peek….maybe you can guess what it is?..

Coloring book!

In another effort to bestow upon me an appreciation for American horology David took me to see a fascinating private collection of clocks. This gentleman has spent years collecting and rescuing American Banjo clocks. The incredible breadth of information he has compiled must make him the leading scholar on this particular branch of American horology. And now without further ado… perhaps the most elaborate and extensive collection of American Banjo clocks…..well almost – there is another thing I must tell you about first –

I have to say I have been lucky to see some beautiful American pieces up close – such as a Howard Company regulator (photos of such to come soon) and this amazing American screw clock and patent model that will soon be sold by Jonathan Snellenburg at Bonhams auction house. I am absolutely smitten with that patent model. I mean – GOSH! – just think about cutting that worm with such precision over such a length when it was made! WHAT?! HOW?!

 

And now! More Banjo clocks than you ever thought you’d see in one place. You’re welcome. 

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And last, but not least – the most important Banjo of all….

Banjo Edison Bloom – aka little ink spot.

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The Art of Illusion

The art of illusion is a fascinating subject, and one that I have been drawn to throughout my life. The fact that the experiences provided by automata, sleight of hand, holograms, and magic lanterns all activate the same cognitive mental processes in the brain is remarkable. In between engine turning classes earlier this month, David and I were able to pay a visit to the Magician’s Magician – John Gaughan – a maker of magical wonders. John’s work is a staple in the magic realm. He started in his youth designing and making tricks for a magician, who later relocated to LA and brought John with him. Since then he has acquired and created an incredible body of work of magical artifacts, including Balsamo the famous chattering skull by Joseffy. Among his collection one will see more simple tricks – such as the vanishing ball and vase – to a mechanical marvel clockwork organ clarinet player. And if you’ve ever read my about page – I refer to a mechanical peacock that can pull an ace from a deck of cards – you’ll see said peacock, Philippe in the photos below. He was made by John.

In this video interview with John below, he takes us through some of the most wonderful illusions in history.

Between our visits to The Museum of Jurassic Technology and the respective workshops of John Gaughan, Tristan Duke, and Al Collins, we had the pleasure of checking out two extraordinary venues. If you find yourself in LA – we highly recommend patronizing The Edison, where one can watch Thomas Edison’s silent movies and have a cocktail, and Clifton’s Cafeteria. Both have an incredible story and are the work of visionary designer Andrew Meieran. From the Clifton’s Cafeteria website: “Eighty years after Clifford Clinton revolutionized dining with the mythical Clifton’s Brookdale, Clifton’s is once again poised to re-define the dining experience. Dedicated to conservation, preservation and education, the legendary establishment is now prepared for the next eighty years. We invite you to join us to explore the new world of Clifton’s – a world of adventure, imagination and magic. ” From experience I can say – it’s all true. The place is absolutely magical – from hidden dioramas to private tiny sanctuaries with forest scenes built into the walls.

 

So with that, go out and explore the magic created by visionaries of the past and present!

 

Seeing the MADE lathe & the MJT

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Last week in between classes David and I had the privilege of visiting The Museum of Jurassic Technology and taking a field trip to Al Collins workshop. Al is one of the developers of the MADE lathe and is in the thick of some fascinating research. He has developed some rosettes in an attempt to regain lost techniques used by the ornamental turners of previous centuries. He has made huge strides and is producing pieces inspired by the Coburg Ivories.

You should also check out the work of Tristan Duke – a modern wizard in holography. I can’t wait to see what comes of potential collaborations between David and Tristan. Given that engine turning or Guilloché can be considered the precursor to holographic technology – there is some discussion about producing scratch abrasive holograms using David’s rose engine. Talk about exciting! Below you can see some of the incredible experiments and holograms Tristan is working on.