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.

 

 

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. 

bmighty

 

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

Banjo Edison Bloom – aka little ink spot.

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Metropolis II

Metropolis II by Chris Burden is a beautiful and complex modern art piece that poses interesting questions for conservation practice and future maintenance. I have heard that it costs in excess of $200,000 to operate per year and yet is not run on a daily basis. The cars alone require a considerable amount of care – as the wheel bearings wear out from regularly running at speeds of over 200 scale mph. Watch the video above to see it running!

“Created by artist Chris Burden, Metropolis II (2010) is a complex, large-scale kinetic sculpture modeled after a fast-paced modern city. The armature of the piece is constructed of steel beams, forming an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of eighteen roadways, including a six-lane freeway, train tracks, and hundreds of buildings. 1,100 miniature toy cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour on the specially designed plastic roadways. Every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulates through the sculpture. “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st Century city.”

Situated in the center of the grid are three electrically powered conveyor belts, each studded with magnets at regular intervals. The magnets on the conveyor belt and those on the toy cars attract, enabling the cars to travel to the top of the sculpture without physical contact between the belt and cars. At the top, the cars are released one at a time and race down the roadways, weaving in and out of the structure, simulating rapid traffic and congestion.

Metropolis II is on long-term loan to LACMA, thanks to the generosity of LACMA Trustee Nicolas Berggruen. Beginning January 14, 2012, the work will be on view on the first floor of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) and run on weekends during the scheduled times below.

  • The cars are attached by a small magnet to the conveyor belt that brings them to the crest
  • The only motorization of the cars is the conveyor belt to the top
  • Once the cars cross over the crest and head downward, their entire movement is by gravity
  • They travel at a scale speed of 240 mph, plus or minus
  • The tracks they take are Teflon coated to reduce friction
  • The tracks are beveled at 7 degrees to give added torque for speed when they come through corners and curves”

Taken from a press release from LACMA available here.

You can see it running  –
Fridays: 12:30-2 pm; 3-4:30 pm; 5-6:30 pm; 7-8:30 pm
Weekends: 11:30-1:00 pm; 2-3:30 pm; 4-5:30 pm; 6-7:30 pm
Weekdays: not operational

 

7è Partie. A French Horse Racing Game -Conservation (Part II) by Ségolène Girard

Seg is speaking !

I put aside all of the unstuck and bathed papers to dry, and to flatten under a press.

I also prepared a dampening room, consisting of a sort of tiny plastic tent (that you can close perfectly) and bowls filled with water. The cardboard lid was placed higher than the bowls, to avoid any risks of contact with liquid water. I then started to put some unheavy weights on the deformed sides. The idea is to progress gently. Everyday, I would add a little more weight, to flatten regularly the cardboard. When it would be flat enough, I could place a big weight to flatten definitely the side treated. This took me a few weeks, also because I had to treat each side individually, to have it horizontally (simple logic !).

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Meanwhile, I decided to treat the mechanics of the game.

I first removed the green felt, that was not really green anymore, nor sticking, and almost “holing”.  I then dismounted the game in order to put it right again in order to work. I gently sanded the pulverulent rust.

Capture d’écran 2014-05-02 à 19.34.20I then applied bicarbonate fluoride with a brush. In order to stop the process from too much action, I cleaned the dissolute residues with a moisten fabric, and dried it right away. On this picture, you can see the action of bicarbonate fluoride in the lower part :

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Here are the results after full treatment :

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 For the red ring, I used Paraloïd B72, which is a thermoplastic resin, used especially in ceramics and metals restoration. It is stable in the passage of time. I first applied it everywhere between the flakes network with a tiny brush, to fill the holes, and when it was dry I applied a second layer in top of it all.

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The insects holes of the wood were treated individually with a syringe and insecticidal.

I could also have used anoxia, that I did not know at the time and avoids using toxic materials. It consists in killing insects by deprivation of air. You can do it at home ! It consists in keeping the object contaminated in a plastic well sealed for at least 72 hours.

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Finally, I mounted all the parts again right at their places. The game was indeed working better. I closed the base with a non acid cardboard to replace the one that was contaminated by mold.

I replaced the fabric with a new felt cloth, antique, but never used, and with unfaded color. It was a hard part. I had to cut it exactly to fit the original place, and to stuck the sides well between the wood and the metallic parts.

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Now that the papers were dry, it was time for mending. In fact, each side where separated from each other due to wear and tear, while they used to be just one long band wrapping the box. I also had to figure out how the flaps used to be, as some of them where missing.

I torn some pieces of Japanese papers, to keep fibers on the side that will be stuck to the papers tears. This allows us to naturally extend the paper, as if it had never been torn. Cutting it perfectly would not offer a good adherence. Also, the fibers of the Japanese paper and of the ones of the object needs to be in the same direction to offer a perfect tension. I chose a Japanese paper that would approach the basis weight of my object papers.

I stuck these papers with wheat starch glue, on about 0,1 in, and put it under weights.

There you can see it on each side (top band is the one of the cardboard lid, and bottom part of the wooden base, you can even see the hole for the trigger) ;

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The white parts where painted with acrylic in order to match with the rest, but in a color slightly different to make the restoration appear. I then prepared like-sized strips of Japanese papers that I painted with golden acrylic.

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Capture d’écran 2014-05-02 à 20.33.50This is a sketch of the cardboard lid. As a wooden “T-bar” was missing (first arrow on the picture above), I replaced it with a non-acid piece of cardboard, before remounting the papers.

First, the montage of the golden strip, on both lid and base, as follows ; was stuck with wheat starch glue :

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I did an “in situ” retouch on the golden papers to tarnish them a little.

Then, I re-stuck all the pieces of papers again. Oh no I will make you wait a little longer for the final picture. Exactly a year after my first post on this game ! Boy, it’s been a rough journey. I can’t believe all of the things that happened meanwhile !

Until next time !