Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Mathematical Bridge and the Small Crisis

I have spent the last couple of days working on my new engraving of the "Mathematical" bridge which crossed the River Cam at Queens' College, Cambridge.

At the start, I made a fairly careful (reversed) outline drawing to check the composition. I have drawn a punt in the foreground for added interest :

The next step was to copy this onto my darkened block of lemonwood:

I started to engrave the elaborate woodwork of the bridge. I alternated between this fine work and the sky, which was a bit more straightforward:

Next, I engraved the college buildings and continued to work on the sky. The last addition here is the punt and the start of the reflections on the surface of the water:

Here is the upper part of the block in more detail:

At this point - disaster! I stopped work for a moment and the block slipped of the sandbag and fell to the floor. It missed the mat and landed facedown on the rough concrete floor. I picked it up and checked for damage. It could have been a lot worse but there was still a small but deep depression punched into the surface. I could have engraved over this in a light area but it was one of the darker parts of the water and so I needed to deal with it.

The traditional method os to try to swell the wood so that the block is more or less flat again. This is done by putting a drop of water over the hole and using a match to warm and evaporate this so thast the wood swell - obviously being careful not to scorch the block - or set fire to it!

Readers of a nervous disposition will be relieved to hear that the procedure was almost entirely successful. Here we go:


Annie B said...

Wow, Andy, that's a lot of excitement in the engraving studio!! I was on the edge of my seat worrying about the block catching on fire! Nice job. Did you apprentice with someone at any point in your career, or did you learn all these tricks and tips in school?

Ellen Shipley said...

Thanx Andy for the demo of the crisis resolution. Great tip to know!

Love the clouds! 8-]

Sue said...

It certainly was useful to see a tip that I've read about in the 'how to' books, being demonstrated before your very eyes. I'm so glad it works!