Post 736 -Gautam Shah


7 Anglo-Saxon openwork silver disk brooch Wikipedia Image by Johnbod

6 Slightly convex bossed disc brooch of sheet silver with inlaid gold and niello ornament Mid 9th C

Niello is a metal embellishment craft. It is an inlay material, as well a surface treatment (as commonly called ‘oxidized’ silver). For both, silver is the preferred base-metal, and involves use of some form of sulphide. The Niello, is just deposition that affects the top layer of metal.

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The infused colours for both techniques are various shades of Black. Objects treated with Niello, are also called nielli, and silver objects treated with Sulfides are called ‘oxidized’ or ‘blackened silver’ (though the word ‘oxidized’ is a misnomer). Niello (Italian), derives from, nigellum, nigellus neuter, niger, which all relate to the Black.

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Niello is a black mixture of sulphur, copper, silver and lead, used as an inlay or filler material over engraved, chased or etched silver metal. It is added in powder or paste form and fired until it melts or at least softens. As it flows, is pushed back in the engraved pits. It cools, hardens and turns black, which with controlled application, provides colours like blues, purples, yellows, brown reds. The surface of silver is polished bright, leaving the Niello colour in the pits intact. The black colour of Niello is metal surface tarnishing but a hastened process, which left to nature would take years. Jewellers use a chemical called liver of sulphur’ (potassium sulfide).

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There are also several mixed-media techniques, often called metal-malerei (German =painting in metal), which involve applying gold and silver inlays or foils, over the Niello covered bronze. Niello was used as the adhesive base to apply thin gold and silver foils in place.

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The earliest use of Niello was in late Bronze Age, around 1800 BC. in Syria. Niello has been used in many parts of the world, including Russia, India, and Islamic countries. In Russia Niello is called Tula work.

4 Reliquary Casket with Scenes from the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket

Gothic art from the 13th C saw Niello as a pictorial art. Use of Niello, which reached its high point in the Renaissance. Niello was popular because small goldsmiths used it for decorating simple ornaments. The art of Niello reached its peak in 15th C Italy.

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During the Renaissance, at the height of its popularity, the technique was widely used for the embellishment of liturgical objects, cups, boxes, knife handles, sword hilts, bracelets, rings, pendants, and belt buckles. Later in Romanesque period Niello was used in densely engraved pieces.

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Renaissance goldsmiths in Florence in Europe, decorated their works in silver, by engraving the metal with a burin, and filled up the hollows with Niello, to achieve much higher visible contrast. Some pieces such as paxes (liturgical objects) were effectively pictures in niello.

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Niello was hardy and cheaper, and for that reason, in competition with costlier and superior painted enamel work. Painted Enamel, though offered wider colour range and very delicate details.

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Niello crafts-persons exploited their talent to make flatter objects like engraved plates, which before the filling in with Niello were used for print making on paper. These were known as ‘Niello prints’. Originally such paper prints were made by engravers to record their work. By the late 16th C soft mastic compounds were devised for engraving.

3 Niello print Italian 18th or 19th Horatius Cocles httpspicryl.commediahoratius-cocles-ac61fc Horatius Cocles


MOTIF PATTERN and DESIGN -Part 2 -Issues of Design 37

Post 735 -by Gautam Shah


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A Design comes into being with the realization of the order that forms the composition. Architectural drawings are not designs, but media for representation. A design is the comprehensive experience of sensorial, emotional or functional nature that one derives from an object. Some designs are simplistic that their experience is holistic.

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A Holistic composition itself, may present as a single entity. Such exploits are not common. Holistic compositions are ‘superfluous’ with extraneous body and no dissect-able content. Holistic compositions are too personal. It is not easy to convey to others, except as the sensorial experience (visual, aural, tactile, olfactory or taste). A Holistic feel does not convey or have any utilitarian purpose. The creator of the holistic entity may experience the design-order conceptually (mentally or schematically), but for others, to perceive that feel, it must wait for the actualization. Private creations tend to have holistic ideation, like an abstract thing or a sculpture without any capacity to convey a meaning.

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Formal Designs are very large and complex organizations, serving many functions. A formal design serves functional, technological and, stylish relevance, besides being sited to a place. The conception of a comprehensive structure serving all these is not possible within a practicable period. The exigency of solution achievement does not allow it. The urgency derives from the fact that some other slightly superior solution can outpace it. In the circumstances, a design remains a workable entity, an assembly, where at any given moment ‘some sections may work well, and others remain time-space compromises’.

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Actualized designs have size, shape and other sensorial attributes. The composition in an actualized design emerges through these basic characteristics. But most importantly actualized designs need to confirm to some compulsions. Without this, a design remains a defunct sculpted form, or an assembly of materials.

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At Design ideation level, a solution may seem comprehensive and so nearly holistic. There, however, are some compulsions which must be considered before a design actualizes.

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1. A complex design entity is conceived with many systems, some of which are fairly independent, but most others are not only mutually dependent, but spatially convergent.
2 The convergence also occurs due to the few nodes that connect various systems to the outside resources and systems.
3 A design encounters directional solar and other environmental elements, and these have zonal identity.
4 A design creation to be stable and secure must affirm to natural forces like gravity and structural integrity.
5 A design, where possible will be conceived of replaceable elements that require fitment facilities and protocols. The replaceable elements, fitment facilities and protocols, need to be universal and modular which force continuance of traditional or time-tested things, rather than new ones. A design emerges as a dilemma between old and new things.


Cubists, Modernists and later Deconstructivists tried to take a reverse route to reach the state of ‘abstraction’. They tried to reach a state of Holism by elimination. To this end, attempts were made to ‘eliminate’ (often just cover-up, hide or dis-regard) ‘what was plausible’. It is not possible to escape the reality and create any thing unimaginable.

Design documented schemes and actualized entities reveal Patterns, at three levels, as holistic, sectional or part identity. The revelation of a pattern is related to the scale of the design. Design documented schemes are scaled to manage and manipulate the composition, whereas, actualized designs are experienced in varied conditions and references. In documented design the perception of a pattern depends on the quality of presentation, and in case of actual design, the pattern can be sensed depending on the quality of environment (intensity of background interferences like glare, noise, persistence of past experiences) and conditions of perception (distance, angle, occlusions, reference to past remembrances, framing, personal sensorial capacities, etc.).

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Patterns have primary relevance, if, its body can be realized, and the potential for reuse manifests. For the later intention, a pattern must be traceable. One must sensorially realize its presence or remember its body and be able to copy, recollect or recreate it. In the process, many things get lost, but what gets carried is the essence of the pattern. A pattern may recur in some other time-space conditions.

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The patterns, as a ‘pure design or image’ has no raison d’etre (cause or purpose of origin). Patterns may be entities independent of the surroundings and also flourish as attached to some context. Patterns are arrangements, oriented peculiarly, but could still remain relevant from many other sides.

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Patterns are sectional or part identity of a design composition. The formation and recognition of the Pattern, is the first order of founding a Design. Some ‘designs’ not offer an ‘unusual pattern’ as a take home essence. Such patterns are often in holistic in form. Patterns can have the potential of being joined with similar or dissimilar patterns, reduced in scale and repositioned (reoriented). Patterns also have the inherent possibilities of becoming part of larger compositions. At this stage holistic compositions do not remain personal things.

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Patterns nominally have multiple Motifs, and all integrated in some manner. But a Holistic pattern is a motif. Such motifs (holistic patterns) are self-sustaining elements and stay unaffected by the happenings in the surroundings, so some order of connectivity is required. The order of connection is the manner of touch or overlap, scale, direction and orientation besides the physical commonality and partial distortions. These are the essential characteristics that offer inexhaustible possibilities of bridging. The bridges, have two ends and a ‘structure’ in between. In case of a pattern, the structure may be physical, but generally just hypothetical recognition.

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A Pattern may look like a familiar object, but need not be a representation or symbol. It may not have any abstract conveyance, yet may carry an associated or interpretive meaning. Our cognitive processes surpass the sensorial perception, and so redirect the sensorial search. Pattern recognition is a matter of perception, and so a personal affair. Recognition of a pattern in nature remains impressionistic, and remembered, noted or expressed for posterity.

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The Pattern style is omni present but becomes valid with a culture (terrain, climate, religion, customs, technology). Nikos Salingaros for example considers ‘regularity to be a key property of a pattern whether the pattern is the external stimulus itself or some other percept residing in the mind of the perceiver’. Is the pattern objectively observable and measurable or is it a subjective experience?

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Pattern in Noise: The phenomenon of finding meaningful patterns in meaningless noise is called patternicity , and conversely, not perceiving patterns that are present in the visual stimulus is called apatternicity.

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In general terms, “a gestalt is a form, a figure, a configuration, or a pattern.” The Oxford dictionary defines form as “the visible shape or configuration of something.” The psychologist Gibson argues in his paper titled –What is a Form? -that much more precision is needed in the definition of such terms if they are going to be useful. He laments the fact that “the term form is used by different people to mean different things and by the same person to mean different things on different occasions.” According to Gibsonshape, figure, structure, pattern, order, arrangement, configuration, plan, outline, contour are similar terms without any distinct meaning”.

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Post 734Gautam Shah



Quantity estimates form the prime database on which monetary estimate is scheduled. Quantities estimate, help us to compound simple measures like lengths, widths, heights, weights, numbers, etc. into quantities with fewer variables. Typically a volumetric quantity is more inclusive than linear or surface quantity. Similarly a numerical estimate far more comprehensive than even volumetric estimate.

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It is generally experienced that certain form characteristics, dimensions (widths, depths etc.), etc. of parts and components remain constant not only through a project, but across projects of similar nature. Such constants are recognized and minor variables are levelled out within certain dimensional ranges. Dimensional ranges become effective in modular dimensions and through the methods of taking measurements. (See section on Modules of measurements and Modes of measurements). Modest qualitative differences are evened out through flexible and wider rang of specifications.

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There could be several levels of conversions before a quantity estimate becomes relevant. One of the most important conversions is through monetary rating. Such conversions are carried out by many different agencies, without the author or the originator of the quantity estimate being aware of it, or being informed about it.

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Monetary estimates result out of a process called costing. Costing or cost-finding is done for the item as deliverable by a single agency, or for its parts, which have market equivalents, and so definite prices. However, where parts have no readily available market equivalents, these are evaluated for the cost of their constituent raw materials, labour and other inputs required for the assembly or construction.

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Monetary estimates are based on items or jobs which no matter how complex are, consist of only few elemental parts, or very simple tasks. The elemental parts and tasks are usually comparable to many others used in different items or situations. Elemental parts, though similar in form and constitution, acquire a unique personality depending on the position of the component in the whole, nature of use, method of installation or erection and time schedule of installation.

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In a monetary estimate, the parts of different types are categorized on the basis of external factors like a guarantee mechanism, life span, utility, depreciation, finance, cost, return, energy consumption, waste output, hazards, ecological value, replacement schedules, etc.

Non monetary estimates, follow a process called Valuation. The valuation or value providing creates a basis for judgement of an item. The value may be real and may match the monetary estimate of the item. The value could be a hypothetical one based on a perceived use, commonness or exclusivity, observed affectation, future cost of acquisition or disposal, etc.

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Non monetary evaluations help define projects from many different aspects for which monetary costs are available. Yet, appropriateness and success of a design depend substantially on decisions made through such evaluations.

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Non monetary evaluations are like: Average space provided to a clerk, average area per resident in a hostel, proportion of area between rooms and a corridor, proportion of usable vs. service areas, energy consumption per user, load per bearing area, garbage outputs per resident, noise level per vehicle, water consumption per unit, etc.

8 Johnson, PhilipIDS Center Investors Diversified Services Center with Crystal Court 1969-72 49091064521_3c3480c036_c