Friday, 7 October 2011

Barn Owls and Beacons

I am really pleased with this "standard size" version of our Hovering Barn Owl. It is always a challenge to repeat a design. There is the desire to "improve" the original, and to create something fresh...but that is always tainted with a niggling fear that you won't be able to achieve the magic that caught the client's eye in the first place.
Barn Owl in the Gallery, prior to gilding the cardinal letters

The brass was cleaned with hydrochloric acid. Pretty nasty stuff, but it has the "bite" to remove the blackened braze site. In this case, the client wanted the cardinal letters (N E S & W) gilded, so the letters were primed with red lead.
We use a 12-hour Charbonnel size, and 23.5K double thick, loose leaf English gold. Speaking to master gilder Colin Mullins (who has done work for Anish Kapoor..not to mention numerous historic royal palaces...all the great & the good), he mixes his own size. Colin's work is completely sublime. I have not seen gilding like it.
 The Victorians would have considered a copper  weathervane "naked" without gold. I love the way it picks up all the luscious detail on the surface of the letters. These cardinals will become like a beacon in the sun (and even the moonlight!). Our next commission, a fully gilt Hebridean lymphad (ship or galley) will be the largest gilding job we have undertaken since the gilt Kestrel Weathervane. 

So while the size was drying, Gordon and I took the opportunity to climb the most western area of the Brecon Beacons, the Carmarthen Fans. We drove to the parking lot below Llyn y Fan Fach (a glacial lake linked to the myth of the Lady of the Lake) and then took the long way round, to walk the ridge. We didn't see a soul the whole trudge, except the farmer rounding up his sheep, and boy was it windy. Welcome to October! The sideways pelting rain was a bit of a worry, but it only lasted a minute, and then the sun shone back across the ridge giving ample warmth for sandwiches in the fresh air as we descended towards the lake itself. I love the mountains, and didn't we see a lot of red tail Kites!

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