Perhaps this sounds a little like something to do with horses and cowboys or a San Antonio basketball team but, yes, really, it has to do with clocks. Some old English clocks were attached to the wall with a hoop – essentially a hanging bracket. The spurs were used at the bottom of the clock frame to hold it out from the wall.
This week we spent two full day sin the forge learning the old craft of wrought iron work. Yes, we put iron in the fire and pounded it submission. In our case, into the shape of a hoop and spurs. One of the goals here at West Dean is to gather an appreciation, if not the skill, to build/restore clocks in a way that is “sympathetic” with the way that it was originally made.
This is a much harder job than it seems. We practiced with Plasticine initially but that didn’t last long and we were on to banging red hot metal with a hammer. Day one, we made practice pieces – pointed tapers on the end of a rod, and bent over tapers, and bends in different directions. It all seems to be possible when you are dealing with a relatively long piece of metal but when you try to manipulate a piece that is only 160 mm (that’s around 6 inches for you Americans) and try to get bends in precise places, it is definitely more of a challenge.
As soon as the rod cools enough to loose its red color, it is really easy to forget that it is still very, very hot. Fortunately, I made it through the exercise without and serious mishaps – but I could see it happening really easily.
Next week we start the process of designing and making a clock. I am not sure that I will have time in the year to complete it because I have a Master’s project to do and write and that make not leave enough time, but I will make some of the main parts of a clock.
P.S. We have had the most amazingly warm and dry October for this part of the world – the last two days especially have been beautiful and warm, around 20 C (68 F). As is so often, I am absolutely taken by the fields and the sheep right out in front of the school.
I’ll let you know about some of my other projects soon,