Guy on Channel
4's Time Team
I was having a quiet beer one Wednesday,
in a hotel in West Africa, when I received a phone call
from home; "Would you like to help with a project
for Time Team?" Excellent I thought to myself,
should be great fun. It was then I found out that filming
was on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the following
week; my flight back was on Sunday morning!
The Time Team challenge was to recreate
a bronze enameled roman brooch in the shape of a hare
that had been previously found on the Isle of Wight
- using the same methods that would have been used for
the original. There was no time for a test run and only
3 days to complete the filming.
Roman Hare Brooch found on the Isle of Wight
The Monday following my return was spent
hunting materials to build outdoor kilns, enough charcoal
to fire them and scouring petshops for cuttlefish bone
(the budgie inflation rate went sky high that week).
I was to be working with a bronze founder, Andy, who
had been invited along for his expertise in ancient
casting techniques. Between us we managed to build a
working kiln by the end of day one, thankfully the cameras
were concentrating on Tony Robinson and Carenza Lewis.
I started cutting the lead master on
day two, and it was then that the cameras turned to
us. Andy had got the first melt underway while I finished
the lead pattern and prepared the cuttlefish moulds.
The first pour went drastically wrong as the riser and
pour were too small and were getting clogged with fragments
of charcoal. For the next run I took no chances and
prepared six cuttlefish moulds, while Andy did another
melt. This time we made a full casting but with a lot
of flashing. The flashing would need trimming but it
was a successful cast!
a lead master, creating a mould and a fresh cast
(looking like a lump of charcoal!)
With a bronze casting made, the next
process was the enameling. In order to make the enamel
I mixed sand (hand dug from the local sandpit at knighton),
soda (good old washing soda), a colouring agent (malachite)
and an opifier (tin oxide) - a recipe described in the
Mape Clavicular and Diverse Art (Theopolus).
With fingers crossed we set the enamel to 'cook' over
By the beginning of day three I had
cleaned up a casting and was ready to test the enamel.
The mixture prepared the previous day had formed a glass
like substance which looked hopeful (huge sigh of relief
on the last day of filming), so we decided to give it
|Applying and firing
I changed the bronze melting kiln to
a muffle kiln with the aid of a square steel tube, which
seemed to do the trick. The heat seemed just about right
and the brooch was fired in good order.
|Stoning down the enamel
and fitting a pin.
It was a bit of a panic to stone down
the enamel and fit the pin by the end of filming on
day three, but Andy and I managed to get it finished
and I must say the result was quite pleasing. Carenza
wore the brooch to the end of shoot party.
|The finished brooch
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