Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Miniature Strongbox.

For as as long as  i can remember I've always had an interest in medieval strongboxes and church chests/coffers, maybe the reason for this is that its rare outside a museum that we can get close and actually touch a piece of furniture that may date back to Saxon times, plus the chance of actually owning a piece of furniture like this is virtually impossible.
This is my very first attempt at making a piece like this and as such i wanted to try and create it without the use of any kind of power sounds easy but i can assure you it wasnt, the timber i used for this i got from a barn that was undergoing renovation and was part of a roof timber that was 400 years old. The timber was as hard as steel so cutting it into 5mm sheets was no easy feat.

 The box is held together using wooden dowels and then surrounded in steel braces for extra strength.
In total i used 101 handmade rivets to hold the steel bands in place.

The two objects inside the box are genuine early medieval mounts/studs that would have been attached to the decorative leatherwork of a horse that was either used in a jousting match or battle both still have parts of the origonal coloured enamel intact which is pretty amazing for something which dates to the mid 1400s.
Both of these items were found by myself close to where i live while out metal detecting.
Dimensions of the box are 70mm width x 45mm depth x 40mm height.
My first attempt at a miniature strongbox that contains a genuine tiny treasure.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Miniature Collectors Cabinet.

A thirteen draw collectors cabinet complete with small treasures, Made entirely from recycled materials the main construction being of English walnut and bone.

                              Dimensions of the cabinet are 100mm width 80mm height 40mm deep.
                                               The cabinet contains the following contents.

From top left :-
1. Early medieval bronze horse boss Cir 1450-1550
2. Decorative cast bronze strap mount in the form of a heraldic rose Circ 1500.
3. Post medieval ring with circular pattern.
4. Silver sixpence Elizabeth 1st Cir 1558-1603.
5. Silver threepence Elizabeth 1st Cir 1558-1603.
6. Silver groat Circ 1558-1603.
7. Edward III silver penny Circ 1327-1377.
8. Edward III silver penny Circ 1327-1377.
9. Edward I Silver penny Circ 1272-1377
10. Felipe III Spanish copper cob Circ 1603-1616.
11. Carlos II Spanish copper cob Circ 1680-1686.
12. Felipe III Spanish copper cob with counter mark dated 1622 and 1641.
13. 15th Century Cast bronze casket key,lozenge shaped handle and decorative flange, single notched ward with the shank terminating to a spike.

All the contents are genuine artefact's that have been collected over the years by myself.

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Monday, 20 June 2011

Apothecary Cabinet.

This piece of work was a great learning curve for me, i made mistakes but continued with the build after all that's how we learn!
Making the cabinet was reasonably easy filling it with contents was a different matter. First off i started looking into what would have been present in a apothecary cabinet, once i had done this then i could look into dimensions and sizes.The first items i made were the brass draw knobs these were turned down from solid brass rod.


The wood used is English walnut,this was taken from a broken writing instrument box that was in pretty bad shape, i took the remains of the carcass to bits and planed all the timber to the required thickness.Once this was done i started on the construction of the main carcass.

This all came together rather quickly,The construction of the scales and pill maker along with the mortar and pestle were all achieved using scrap brass, the mortar and pestle being made from a 7.62mm spent ammunition cartridge and a tiny piece of ivory. The medical chart illustration is a handpainted copy on genuine 17th century vellum, painting is another fond pastime of mine i origonally trained as a signwriter when first leaving school carrying out restoration work on horse drawn carridges.The tiny book is a leather bound   Georgian herbal book of medicinal plants measuring approx 35mm x 22mm and containing 62 pages of  coloured plant illustrations and medicinal uses and is readable with a magnifying glass.
Dimensions of the cabinet are H65mm x 60mmW x 65mmD.

And finally the compleated piece of work. All of the jars contain genuine herbs and creams , the inside of the cabinet is lined with green leather as are the draws.
With each miniature piece i create i like if possible to include as many recycled materials as possible also at least some items with age , in this case the vellum the medical chart was painted on is 17th century and the wood used for the construction dates to around 1900. I have enjoyed creating this piece of work and im sure it wont be the last based on this type of theme.


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Putting ideas into practice.

Making miniatures has never really been something i had thought about doing up until last year when i was having a clear out in my garage and came across some old engineering boxes from the 1900s. These would have held  measuring equipment but were now long empty and were being thrown out by my then employer a couple of years ago and i thought they may come in handy for something one day so being the hoarder i am i gladly took them home. The patina on these boxes was a well used antique look which i immediately thought would look great made into something, but what? Over the next couple of weeks i sat pondering what i could make with these but couldn't quite put my finger on it so i put them to one side and thought when the time was right it would come straight to me.
A few weeks had passed and my family and i were on holiday in Norfolk on the east coast of England and just out of the blue one day i found myself staring at this french antique clock in a shop window and the idea hit me there and then.
Returning from our holiday i put pencil to paper and made some rough sketches of the idea that had been lingering around in my head and started gathering the bits and pieces i required to see it through, after a couple of weeks my first miniature piece of work was complete and i was hooked.


The piece i made is... shall we say not to every ones taste, but is based on the Paris catacombs a place that has always fascinated me,seeing that french clock just made something click.

The skull is carved from genuine bone and mounted to a plaque which resembles a date stone also from the catacombs. All of the inside was then covered in genuine 18th century vellum which came from a damaged document i acquired some time ago, the door is fitted with a piece of optical glass from a pair of broken Victorian spectacles. At the very top is mounted a hand carved rutile quartz skull.

The rest of this piece was made up from items taken from broken watches and clocks which gave an effect that i was very pleased with.This piece measures H100mm x W50mm the inside compartment is 40mm square.
Strange how an old broken box can lead to a passion for creating  miniature works of art. So with my first piece of work complete i was addicted, everything i seem to look at now in an artistic sense i also imagine in miniature too, and i continue as i did then to produce all of my work with either broken or discarded materials.