Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Washington Cathedral

(Day 28)

As the combined Smeltfest 2012 and research trip proceeds, I will only have spotty internet access - via my lap top. So postings may be less frequent and shorter...

Today I drove into Washington from Winchester, and spend most the day at the Washington National Cathedral.

Now this is an impressive building in almost every way. My intent on visiting was to examine the forged metalwork there, primarily by legendary artisan blacksmith Samual Yellen. Over the course of some four hours, I took over 120 images. These were both complete pieces, but also many close up details. Those images are the kind of thing that revel many things about the construction of the pieces, and individual shapes and processes used. Many discoveries!

These are just a couple of samples:

Around the main entrance to the Cathedral, there are a number of roughly 4 foot wide by 6 foot tall panels, all by Yellen. Each shows a distinctive design. This is a detail of the main fill of one of these. The heavy rings are held by a series of looped over elements, each end forged by splitting into a crescent. These are wrapped around the rings while hot. The end result is that each of the rings is actually free to move, making the panel slightly flexible.

This is a railing to one side of a set of stairs leading downwards to the 'crypt' level, this in the NE corner of the building. You can see the very organic lines. The hand rail on the opposite side of the stairs uses the same flat bar with double lines hammered in. The uprights and supports are quite different however.

This is the famous 'Good Shepard' gate by Albert Pailey. (Most all smiths would recognize it!) This is a view of the *rear* of the gate, not usually ever seen. To give you some idea of scale of this work, the majority of elements seen here are forged from starting stock that looked to be 1/2 to 5/8 thick - and four inches wide.

Tomorrow is a slower trip down to Lexington

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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