Where mechanics meet magic, birds, & music

Hello dear readers! I’ve had some great projects come in and out of the shop recently, so I thought I’d share with you one of my favorites.

Below is a beautiful clown magician by Gustav Vichy recently completed here at Memoria Technica.



Made to pay homage to magicians past and enchant viewers, the clown uses his handkerchief to transform the rat in his hat to a cat!


Magic has been a long standing theme in automata. This clip of the magician’s box from a recent sale at Sothebys is one of the finest examples of this type. Complete with a set of tokens that you insert to ask age old questions. What is most fleeting in life? ::love:: What is most precious? ::time::


Some of the worlds greatest magicians were also horologists. Take clockmaker and magician Jean Eugène-Robert Houdin (1805-1871) for example and his famous orange tree trick. Below is a clip from The Paul Daniels Magic Show, demonstrating a recreation of the famous tree. I urge you to watch full episodes of the Paul Daniels show. The nostalgia of the early ones is amazing….


I am sure many of you know the name Fabergé. Goldsmith and artisan Peter Carl Fabergé made a beautiful version of the orange tree, known as the Bay Tree Egg (1911), containing a singing bird. As you can see below, a very likely homage to the world renowned artisan and magician.

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Image from the Fabergé Museum


Hopefully that has peaked your curiosity a bit and now you are inspired to dig into the history of magic. The lecture I recently gave at the Stimson Green Mansion to kick off the Horological Lecture Series covered this and a lot more. The next one promises to be just as engaging. David Lindow will be coming out to deliver the history and development of the rose engine and talk about creating the world’s most versatile (and beautiful! if I don’t say so myself!) rose engine lathe. Come join us May 15th! There will be wine and hors d’oeuvres to enjoy, as well as beautiful turnings by David to admire.

Here are photos from the last event, so if you didn’t make it you certainly will be tempted to come this time around. Tickets are available here.

Become a sponsor and receive some extra perks. I couldn’t host this series without sponsorship, as it is organized and funded by Memoria Technica in an effort to promote these esoteric topics and make them available to a wider audience. I am very grateful to those who have already sponsored the series, making the first two lectures possible!

As a sponsor, enjoy reserved front row seats and other goodies, such as the reissue of the Sacred Geometry Coloring book. The original release of 300 has now sold out, so Al Colins and I teamed up again to create some new patterns for the second edition. It will have a few other bonuses as well, straight from Mike Stacey of the MADE lathe team! I’ve just picked up the covers, printed on thick black stock with silver foil and white leaf. It’s also available for pre-order here.  There will also be another limited special edition (of 24), which will be out this fall.


In other news, I recently returned from giving a talk to the Horological Society of New York on my work with bellows materials in smoking automata. If you’ve been curious about the smoker and the machine I made, the talk is available here to see, as well as a meeting recap. I urge you to join the society if you have an interest in horology. You don’t have to be a New Yorker to enjoy the lectures, as they are all available online with membership.


I also had the pleasure of speaking about my work and the art of guilloché to the Seattle Metals Guild last week. It was a lot of fun introducing the topic to so many new people. If you’re local to Seattle and are interested in anything metals, I highly recommend joining the Guild.


Speaking of guilloché, David and I still have a spot left in our intermediate and two in our advanced classes! I’m not sure when we’ll be able to offer these classes next, as we both have a lot on in our individual workshops for the foreseeable future. So this may be your last chance to come and take a class with the dynamic Mr. Lindow here at Memoria Technica for a little while. Now is the time; register here.

Below are some photos from our earliest classes at the shop and different student projects. Hope to see you soon!

 

 

 

Engine Turning Classes May 2018

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I’m excited to announce the latest schedule for engine turning classes is now up and registration is open!

Register HERE.


David Lindow will be coming out to teach intermediate and advanced classes with me this May after I start off the month with Beginner’s Turning. He will be bringing a Lindow Rose engine equipped with higher amplitude rosettes, allowing students to try a different machine and produce more dynamic patterns than what my Leinhards are currently capable of.

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David will also be giving the second lecture in the series at the Stimson-Green Mansion, entitled “The History of the Rose Engine from Kings to Craftsmen.”

Tickets now available HERE. 

About the series:

Lectures are held on a quarterly basis, the second Tuesday of the month, and are open to anyone with an interest in horology and decorative arts.

Join us for a journey through the history of science, art, and mechanical timekeeping. This series features guest speakers from many disciplines related to aspects of the horological field, including engine turning, mechanical magic, ornamental turning, celestial bodies and navigation, and the art of the goldsmith.

To submit topics you would like to explore or if you are interested in sponsoring the series, please contact us at: info@mechanicalcurios.com”


It’s not too late to become a sponsor of the series. All proceeds go to venue fees, speaker fees, as well as food & beverages. The series would not be possible without our sponsors! We are very grateful for the support. Check out our sponsorship packages HERE.


 

Advanced Engine Turning

Hi All! So we finally finished up the last of our engine turning classes this month. It was great fun seeing how the student work developed over the sessions, as many students enrolled in more than one. With more complex projects, students singled in on a specific idea. A lot of time was spent making sure surfaces were dialed in flat and true. Students worked in silver, copper, and other materials. Here are the results!

 

David and I want to say thank you to all of our students and the support! We’re already planning our next series of classes and look forward to meeting our future attendees!

Until next time!

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Intermediate Engine Turning I – Group 2

This was a great class with students bringing many ideas and projects. Casey Burns, a local flute maker, decided to add engine turning to his instruments. You can see the pieces he turned in the photos below – check out his website for the finished flutes! Two watchmakers also enrolled in this session trying out some exciting concepts for dials and pendants – incorporating off center work and some challenging patterns. A long time ornamental turner and enthusiast also signed up looking for new inspiration in old traditions. The results from the class are stunning.

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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