STONE CRAFT

Post 464 –by Gautam Shah

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Stone craft consists of many distinct trades, like quarrying, handling-transporting, sizing, cutting, dressing, finishing and masonry work. The first stone craft was using the stone to make tools for working with materials. A right choice of stone quality and appropriate size-shape were important then, and continue to be so today.

640px-Canto_tallado_2-Guelmim-Es_Semara

Stone is used for many different purposes.

  1. as industrial raw materials for minerals,
  2. as a constituent material in various composites,
  3. in buildings, for masonry, flooring and applique work,
  4. as an art and craft material.

Paulnabrone

Strength of a stone is checked for following types of stresses:

Compressive stresses, tend to decrease the volume of the material, causing breaks with a shattering effect.

640px-Roman_era_stone_arch_bridge,_Ticino,_Switzerland

Tensile stresses, produce cracks and fissures, and torsion (or twisting). Generally, fine-grained rocks are stronger than coarse grained. Rocks with interlocking between the crystals are stronger than rocks with poor interlocking. Stratified rocks have poor strength along the plane or strata. Stratified rocks as a rule have lower strength than igneous and non-stratified homogeneous rocks.

Shear stresses, which move one part of a stone with respect to another, under certain conditions, inducing a permanent change of shape. These are best avoided by appropriate angle of extraction and cut, by careful orientation during coursing a masonry.

Cracks_at_Sunrise-on-Sea,_Eastern_Cape

Torsional stresses are important for structures of stones such as piers. Heat induced stresses were once critical for structures like fire places and hearths, but optional materials have obviated that as the criteria of design.

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The general requirements for stones used in Buildings can be summarized as follows:

■ Sound, uniform rock material.

■ Presence of rifts to facilitate workability by hand tools.

■ Porosity advantageous for cementing, provided it does not decrease the resistance to weathering.

stone_wall_etruscan_antique_old_raw_tuff_unplastered_pattern-542379.jpg!d

640px-Lanzarote_-_stones_of_a_wall_-_pumice_stone

■ Inherent chemical stability to prevent fluorescence.

■ High strength (as required in certain cases).

■ Low specific gravity (necessary for easier handling and in light weight structures).

■ High abrasion resistance (an important factor for flooring, steps).

Palazzo dei diamanti, facciata principale. Wikipedia Image by Nicolò Musmeci

Masonry walls of stones require specific methods of construction such as:

1 Heaviest and thickest of pieces should be used for lower courses.

2 Small pieces of stones should not be used on outer face.

3 Best flat face with a smallest area should form the wall face.

4 Each stone must rest on a flat surface, if required flat face should be achieved preferably by dressing of the stone, by bedding material or mortar, or by use of splinters and wedges.

5 Wedges should be placed with their wider face on the inside and narrower face on the outside.

6 All loose particles, cleavages, layers should be removed before using a stone.

7 Joints must be staggered.

Palais du Luxembourg Bossage

8 In case of very thick walls, if more than two stones form a width, several full width stone should be employed for keying.

9 For all walls especially random masonry, the corners should be made of long rectangular stones of even thickness (preferably dressed).

Opus Reticulatum Pompeii Roman stone facing pattern Wikipedia Image by Jensens

10 Stratified stone materials should be used for compressive loads to occur across the section or strata.

11 For tension bearing areas stratified and sedimentary stone material should be avoided.

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ART COATINGS

Post 432 – by Gautam Shah

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Lascaux2

Coatings are thin surface finishing techniques. A thin film is achieved by using a material that is in a liquid state or is convertible into a liquid phase. A coating may or may not have a colourant, but on drying achieves various degrees of transparencies. Coatings are applied to entities to alter the appearance, improve the tangibility and to provide a protective cover. Historically, however, coatings have been used for illustration and decorative effects.

The discovery of mixing dishes suggests that liquid pigment mixed with fat was also used and smeared with the hand. The subtle tonal gradations of colour on animals painted in the Altamira and Lascaux caves appear to have been dabbed in two stages with fur pads, natural variations on the rock surface were exploited to create the effects of volume.

Sleeping_Antelope_Tin_Taghirt

The simplest way of marking cave walls was to make finger-traces in the soft layer of clay covering the rock. Lime stone walls were engraved and filled in with iron oxide (hematite, or ochre), or the black pigment as manganese or charcoal. These materials were usually available locally. Analyses of pigments, reveal the use of extenders such as talc or feldspar, to increase the bulk of pigments. It also shows traces of animal and plant oils, used for binding. The pigment in paste form was applied with fingers, and also tools like animal-hair brushes or crushed twigs. Lumps of pigment discovered on cave floors may have been used as crayons, but since they do not mark the rock well, they were more likely to be sources of powder. Colour was often sprayed, from the mouth or through a tube. A network of ladder, supports and scaffolding was used to reach the ceilings and upper portions of walls. Light was provided by hearths, or portable burning torches.

Abric_on_es_troben_les_pintures_d'art_llevantí_al_pla_de_Petracos

Primitive coatings were daubing of clays, minerals, charcoal, lamp blacks often mixed with mediums such as water, tallow, vegetable excretion and juices, urine, blood, bitumen. Binding mediums were employed to fix the mineral or colourant particles on the surface. Some of the binding mediums were evaporative and worked only as a `leveller’ for particulate matter. By 6000 BC, in China, calcined (fired) mixtures of inorganic compounds and organic pigments and binding mediums (vehicles) were prepared from gum arabic, egg white, gelatin, and beeswax.

Some oily mediums though superior in fixing and longer lasting, but collected dust on aging. Oil mediums became darker in colour due to oxidation, or just peeled off. Some of the mediums were destroyed due to fungus and algae. Later little more complex substances such as starches of rice and maize, pine wood extracts, egg albumin, bees wax, hydrated limes, gypsum, etc. were used.

PREHISTORIC ART FORMS

There are basic TWO sets of Arts. Fixed arts are built-forms, wall murals and architectural embellishments. These could have been part of either exterior and interior environments. Portable arts, comprise of objects or artefacts. These usually remained in protected environments. Fixed arts were largely painted and scratched or engraved, but portable arts had, at least in initial periods, natural finishes by way of selection and production processes.

Venus_vom_Hohlen_Fels_Original_frontal

Portable arts consist of wide variety of object forms and material combinations. Compared to the fixed Arts the objects are smaller in size. The portable objects show all, the surface treatments, embellishments and coating applications. The objects of this category show greater integration of all the three interventions and greater detail or involvement. Large number and wide variety of objects have been preserved and recovered even from regions where Fixed Arts entities have not survived. Portable arts’ objects are smaller and personal hobby or a family craft creation. The colour and surface quality were matter of choice or discoveries through innovation in production.

Paulnabrone

Fixed Arts entities that have survived are surface treatments or renderings through show painting, scratching, engraving and daubing methods. On the other hand, the surviving built-forms, if considered as art-forms, represent technological milestones of material handling, supporting and construction planning. Fixed arts were large scale or important societal activities, involving entire community by way of voluntary participation or forced labour. The involvement of the community was for seasonal or occasional rituals. The leader, conductor or priest of the ritual and the team were the select few experts who initiated and updated the (art) entities over and over again. Such art-forms indicate occupation or interventions of several generations, as much as for more than 300 years.

Bradshaw rock paintings

Portable Art objects are incidental that is the availability, shape, size, colours, texture, etc. define the range of treatments. Many times the purpose it will serve evolves during the process of treatments. Such objects show material combinations. many different finishes were achieved, by change of forms and exploiting the tools. Material processes like heating, singeing, sintering, baking, beating, shaping, cutting, chopping, grinding, drilling, etc., were also used in farming and cooking. It was one seamless manner of learning.

Venus_of_Brassempouy

The materials were stones, precious stones, metal nodules, mineral and other colourants, woods, grasses, twigs, hides, leathers, skins, furs, hairs, shells, teeth, horns, bones, ivory, raw clay objects, baked clay ceramics, seeds, fruits, etc.

The objects formed were totems, body adornments, tools, implements, ritual and burial objects, cooking utilities, toys for children, amenities and dwelling embellishments.

Collier_de_Penne

These were exchanged, gifted to others or offered in rituals. The objects began to have consistent expressions. The varied metaphors, passing from one generation to other, ultimately became abstract. Coins, plaques, seals, etc. represent multiple conversions of expressions like a language.

Ggantija_Temples,_Xaghra,_Gozo

Fixed Art objects like built-forms, though functional utilities were built for community and for political purposes.

The public use entities were irrigation facilities, forest clearance, dykes, bridges, walks or passages, drinking water resources, community surround structures, security amenities and storage arrangements. These were not ‘decorative arts’ but symbolized technological innovations. Some like burial stones and dolmen had items of personalization.

Cave_Paintings_Bhembetika_(22)e

Fixed Arts objects like wall arts show skills of surface preparation, rendering or painting and surface finishing. These creations also show art of surface preparation by way of grinding, etching, daubing, engraving and colourant application. Wall-arts exist in odd narrow corners, at very high elevations, tall ceilings, day time dark corners and in nearly inaccessible places. The effort must have required support structures, bridges, scaffolds, illumination and ancillary works to protect the creations from moisture.

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MUD ARCHITECTURE

Post 426 – by Gautam Shah 

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9 Koyama_3

Architecture and structures of mud or clay, for every conceivable purpose, exist in all parts of the world. In hilly regions of the world clay sediments have been used for packing the joint and as a masonry course leveller. Mud or clay is used because of the abundant supply, near zero cost of procurement, wet plasticity, mould-ability, insulating qualities, high thermal capacity, non toxicity, ecological friendly nature and simplicity of application. Mud as a forming material for architecture, structures or ceramics have some drawbacks like, shrinkages on drying, i.e., cracking, poor weathering qualities, lack of homogeneity in dry state, high water permeability -hygroscopic, poor bonding to a substrate -peel off, vulnerability to white ants and insects.

Mud_houses_are_commonly_found_in_various_regions_of_Afghanistan.

Mud has seen renewed interest during the last Six to Seven decades. First interest in architecture was for its abundance and simplistic technology. Later, the material was favoured for its insulative qualities. During the last 4o years the mud buildings are being favoured for their Eco-friendliness, chiefly the recycle-ability aspect of it. The ideology of sustainability, with its varied interpretations, has supported experimentation for different uses.

2 Wattle_and_daub_construction

8 Berber village Near Ait Benhaddou 5600152155_532c99cc67_z

Some basic techniques of Mud construction are identified. These are: Sod, Rammed earth, Cob (cobb or clom), Adobe, Wattle and daub Compressed earth block methods. These techniques differ in details, from region to region, type of soils, natural moisture content and availability of additional water, additives, reinforcements and support form-work within reach. The mix design and forming techniques also depend on building elements (wall, slab, etc.), architectural elements and surface finish or applique decorations.

11 st_stephens_church_at_acoma_pueblo1

Mud architecture presents fascinating forms. The quality of space formation, the suitability for range of basic architectonic elements, adaptability to different usages, and the universal availability, make mud a very coveted material. The love affair is very poignant during the academic period of designers. The passion, however, gets muted over the years, for variety of reasons, such as lack of the clientele, the place, scope and sponsorship for experimentation and the irrelevance of the technology at locations where the educated designer will operate. There are many other reasons for a failed take off for ‘low technology and eco-friendly’ endeavours. Mud, is reckoned to be a sustainable material, of very relevant (‘green’) technology, non toxic, universally available and completely recyclable material.

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1 House_in_Toteil_002

These concepts remain valid so far as one can use the mud architecture concurrently with matching ‘lifestyle’ if one is conducting. A personal habitat of mud and to maintain (sustain) it for a long period, are two different things. A mud building is a very fragile entity and needs day to day care. Such concerns cannot be assigned to any outsider or agency. The cost of daily upkeep can turn out to be very high. And even if one can afford the cost, (which could be equal to the cost of a new structure), takes lots of time, practically a full time vocation.

7 Siwa mud Homes2009

Mud built-form cannot be conceived as a drawn plan or scheme. A person who constructs it must improvise it on own. The execution of such form cannot happen quickly, and during the period whatever that has been constructed will need updating and improvisation. Some of the key elements of built form, material behaviour, form and space organization exist in the society that has been using mud for generations. These innate capacities can be reinforced by being not only an active participant on the site, but by being an inhabitant of the entity. Only an inhabitant of the mud architecture can sustain it.

4 Mud_plaster_over_straw_bales_wallDesigners cannot, and must not meddle in mud architecture design or execution. A design student may be asked to design one and perhaps execute it, as a learning exercise. The fashionable word coined by teachers who never practice, or have never done, is “hand on experience” in material-form-and the technological implications.

3 Annual_repair_of_the_world's_largest_mud_brick_building_the_Great_Mosque_of_Djenné_in_Mali._(32088227574)

 

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DRAPERIES

Post 424 – by Gautam Shah

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Room_at_Nikoi_Island

A drape is a way of hanging or placing an unstitched piece of fabric. The word drape derives from Proto-Germanic drapiz and drepiz (=a strike, hit, blow), (=intended for striking, to be beaten), it also relates to English drub (=to beat) and Swedish dräpa (=to slay). In ancient periods a drape-able fabric was heavily (beaten) washed, and so soft and pliable. A heavily washed fabric is dull or of unbleached natural colour. At places a dull cloth is described to be grayish to yellowish or light olive brown in colour. The loss of crispiness perhaps indicates use of Linen, which became soft after several washes.

The word drapery is of 14th C origin, but drape or equivalent usages must be very ancient. Unstitched pieces of fabrics were used for covering own self by ordinary people as well as priests and rulers. The draped fabric, if soft, hangs loosely. The fabric, if stiff or of heavier weave remains fluffy, and does not ‘fall’ gracefully. The fabric worn as dress usually has vertical folds, which change with body movements. On a performance stage, it creates an impression of ‘larger than life movement’, perceptible to the spectators in the last tier of the Amphi theatre.

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Drapery refers to composition of fabric used for decorative purposes, around internal or external gaps or openings. It also means any arrangement of fabric used as clothing, backdrop, accompaniment or adornment for a work of art in the form of painting or sculpture. Each artist and each era shows unique techniques of rendering the drapery curves and form. The quality of fabric material never shown as actual, it only enhanced the form of drapery. The colour of the drapery as shown was the artists’ pallet requirement and may not be realistic. The transparency of fabric and body revelations were according to the artists daring and perhaps client’s dictates.

Gandharv Buddha 1-2nd C BC

Sarcophagus of the brothers 250 AD > Wikipedia Image > Farnese collection

In interior Design all types of fabrics are used for draping the furniture, openings, gaps, parapets, railings, columns, brackets, steps and stairs. These are covered with many different grades of fabrics ranging from sheer silk, flimsy organza, sateen, damask, linen, velvet, starched cotton, and later rayons and polyesters. Drapery colour and pattern schemes were coordinated with wall papers, curtains, carpets and other tapestries. Fabrics have been hung with formation of gathers or unstitched pleats, of vertical, dropped or sagged curves and twisted horizontals. Tapestry like one-sided fabrics are also draped over architectural elements of buildings.

Portrait of Mrs Abington British Actress 1737-1815 ART by Joshua Reynolds

Draperies were inevitable part of beds and bedrooms. Bed was the most important chamber for the lady of the house, almost like a female drawing room. Beds were separated by draperies from the room space, and beds structures were covered with drapes. Back side of the bed had hung piece of tapestry fabric or some form of drape composition. Paintings and portraits were edged with draperies.

Reconstructed Royal Bed at Warsaw Castle Wikipedia Image by Giorgiomonteforti

Draped fabrics were great collectors of dust and soot. The shaped drapes if too articulated, fluffy and against the gravity, have a tendency to collapse. The drapes are generally static arrangement, but during the early part of 19th C began to be replaced by simpler curtains. The curtain required pelmets or open hanging rods, both of which began to be covered with scallops. Scallops are articulated drapes, with ropes and tassels. Word Draper is used to denote an expert tailor or an establishment that stocks various types of fabrics and paraphernalia items.

Scallops over curtain

In art forms draperies have been treated both casually and formally, with neatly delineated lines or free-flowing curves. This has depended on the person to be presented like, an angel, Lord, saints, or commoners. Hellenistic period art draping was white or light coloured translucent body touching, but form emphasizing fabric. Gothic period showed the restrained flow of lines. Post renaissances, the drapery presentation was theatrical. Drapery presentation in painting was such an important issue that it was first discussed with the sponsors. Specialist painters were hired to touch-up the drapery work.

ART by Frans Hals 1625

Unstitched Appearals

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PRIMITIVE COATINGS # 1

Post 411 – by Gautam Shah

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Coatings have been used for decorating and suffusing objects and surfaces for the past 60000 years. These were used for several purposes such as to add a colour, impart a protective layer, ‘plaster’ a surface, imprint a pattern or create an identity signage.

Stone and other artefacts requiring coating or decoration

A primitive person had many objects that could receive the coatings. These objects were natural, reformed or produced ones. The objects had different sizes, shapes and surfaces. The surfaces had characteristic textures, porosities, base-colours and patterns (grains, patches, stains, etc.).

Korea Neolithic age pot

The objects were own body skins, hairs, and nails. Animal products like teeth, animal hides, furs, bones, and teeth. Minerals’ items like sands, clays, stones, rocks, precious stones, and sea shells. Plant items such as dry leaves, grasses, seeds, dried fruits, fibres and woods. The manufactured range of items included clay products, ceramics and metals.

sesklo

The surfaces were prepared to receive the coating. Hides were cleaned and shaved by heavy rubbing. Body surfaces were oiled to receive the colourants. Walls were washed and wetted prior to coating application. Bones were ground to remove the sheen and make surface slightly rough and absorbent. Stones and woods were polished or scrapped. Raw and baked clay products were re-fired after coating. Leaves were rolled and flattened and dehydrated at the green stage by burying in layers of ash or sand.

The coatings’ materials were of natural origins, such as available off the ground, or from animals and plants. But the coating materials were processed by filtering or sieving, washing, cleaning, decanting, boiling, singeing, and sintering.

The act of coating was intentional, done with a sure purpose. But the resultant effects were wondrous, something that gave a new purpose to the artefact. The art of drawing and the technique of coating, was seamless process of magic. A process to express, what the postures, gestures or spoken language could not do.

Coating techniques and materials of the primitive age are still being used in many situations, and so continue to be relevant. Blood is perhaps the earliest colourant, as a fresh liquid it has very rich colour. It was a colour to represent the vibrancy of life and metaphorical power over the kill. Blood, however, is biologically degradable material, dries to a darker shade, and has very weak colour-integrity. Wood coal is a dry colourant, easy to handle. It requires a textured base for ‘rubbing-in’ or a binding liquid to form an applicable paste. Carbon (Lamp) black -a deposition collected over burning fat or oil, is much better due to oil content. Whites were procured from metallic oxides and carbonates. Lime is most common everywhere. Other whites included talc, whiting and barytes. Iron oxides are equally common, and have many different hues (such as yellow ochres, browns of sienna and umber, red and black oxides). Oxides are very stable, and have ‘deep’ saturated colours.

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Black Carbon of Soot or Lamp black

In this palette of colours, the notable absence was Blue and Green. Blue and green appeared very late in the form of Lapis lazuli and Malachite (copper carbonate hydroxide). Brilliant Red that could represent the fresh blood, and Brilliant Pink of the meat were also absent. Purple was nearly unknown. The absentee colours were sourced from plant juices and natural dyes, but had poor colouring strength or low opacity (transparent), sun light fading, and biodegradable colours so were not long lasting.

Sprayed colours

The primitive colourants were mostly of dry powders or soft rocks. These had no binding capacity. Mineral pigments were heavily rubbed on the surface to trap them in the micro cavities of the surface. Liquid juices could absorb into the surface. Some form of binding material or technology was needed. Water has temporary binding capacity and can be used as a carrier agent. To fix colours plant oils, mutton fats, fish oils, etc. waxes, and plant latexes were used. These substances except the wax were ‘non-drying’ and remained wet for a long time. The wet surface attracted dust and trapped insects. The oily substances biologically deteriorated, and on oxidation turned darker in colour.

Proteins-based materials like blood, eggs, milk, urine, and starches were also used as binding materials. Plant and insect exudates or natural gums had binding properties but were highly hygroscopic (affinity with water) materials. Plant milks or latexes, like materials, were also used. Wax was used to mix with pigments and as a protective layer. Wax and natural Creosote were used to protect wood and leather surfaces.

Number of cementing substances were used for coating or plastering. Mud plasters, slaked lime and Pozzolana (volcanic) ash, were materials that had binding properties. Colouring these substances, or coating over it (fresco style) required large quantities of materials, or concentrated pigments. Lime when mixed with a colourant imparted a white shade creating a ‘pale’ effect. Pozzolana had darker colour so made the colourant several shades darker. Plastering and daubing, were frequently used to prepare a better surface for a wall painting. Primitive binding materials can be categorized like, 1 Materials that are water reducible, water resistant and hygroscopic, 2 Air drying and non drying, 3 Non water-based materials.

ancient_azerbaijan_4

The primitive age craft of coating can be summed up as 1 Surface preparation, 2 Application of the coating, 3 Applying tonal variations or shades, and 4 Covering the surface with water protective coat, usually of oils or other transparent materials. The process of application of colourants or the coating system was adapted to the nature of the base surface, as much as to the type of colourants and binders.

Twig brushes

IMG_20150503_2151152

Drawing points and crude shading brushes

Primitive coating applications are varied. The simplest way of marking cave walls art was to make finger-nail traces in the soft layer of clay covering the rock. Lime stone walls were engraved and filled in with iron oxide (Hematite, or ochre), or the black pigment such as the manganese or charcoal. Analysis of cave wall art pigments, reveal the use of extenders (dull or low opacity powders) such as talc or feldspar, to increase the bulk of pigments. The coating also shows traces of animal and plant oils, used either for binding or as a protective covering. The pigment in paste form was applied with fingers, and also tools like fiber pads, animal-hair brushes or crushed twigs. Lumps of pigment discovered on the floor of caves were perhaps used as crayons, or were grinding onto colour powder. Colours were often sprayed, from the mouth or through a tube. A network of ladder, supports and scaffolding was used to reach the ceilings and upper portions of walls. Light was provided by hearths, or portable burning torches. The coated surfaces were ground to achieve a sheen on the surface or re-coated with a protective layer of egg-whites, oils or fats.

cave_of_altamira_and_paleolithic_cave_art_of_northern_spain-110113

The earliest known use of colourants dates back to 70000 years, whereas Cave wall art is about 40,000 years or older. BC. Lascaux, an underground cave, 17300 BC, located in SW France, has walls and ceilings, decorated with some 1,500 engravings and about 600 paintings in shades of yellow, red, brown, and black. The subtle tonal gradations of colour on animals painted in the Altamira and Lascaux caves appear to have been dabbed in two stages with fur pads, natural variations on the rock surface were exploited to create the effects of volume.

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SMITHY

Post 396 – by Gautam Shah 

.power_hammer_at_a_smithy_in_finland

Smithy is a work-place where metals are worked by heating, casting, and hammering (forging) for quality modification, shaping and joining. Copper, bronze and silver were some of the first metals handled in workshops. Smithy is called a Forge. But bronze is not as malleable as copper or silver, and it was not readily forged or chased, but cast. Copper was shaped by forging. The traditions of metals like bronze and copper helped man to deal with cast iron –a castable metal, and little later wrought iron –a workable metal. The term to wrought derives from work.

typical smithy in Finland

A smithy is also called a forge, as hot shaping or forming is chief the activity here. The metal workshop processes are associated with hearth, a place to hammer, chisel, punch, shear bend a piece of iron, and water or oil for quenching the item.

Bassano_Forge_of_Vulcan

Metal pieces are heated to a temperature range at which work hardening does not happen. The heated metal piece is held with tongs and taken to the forge. Here the work-piece is held with tongs and other types of holders while forging. The heating and forging sequence is repeated several times, to maintain the temperature. The piece is than taken to a tub of water (or oil) for quenching or rapid cooling.

Iron Forge

Once upon a time forging workshops were independent units, owned by a smith and serving variety of needs of a neighbourhood. These needs were cooking vessels, plates, bowls, spikes, nails, cart axles, horse shoes, agricultural implements, tools, etc. Iron smiths were employed at construction sites to produce architectural entities such as lattices, screens, partitions, fences, stairs, balcony railings, horse appointments, weapons, posts, and building hardware, etc. ‘Locksmiths’ were fine crafts persons, with capacity to devise clocks, locks and other gadgets. Their ability was to rework a smithy item to finer details and embellish it with many different materials and techniques.

Blacksmith at work

Iron Smiths in later part of 18th C also began to work with rolled metal sheets, items such as trunks, cabinets, truck and other vehicles bodies, buckets, vessels, etc. These items of rolled metal sheets were cold-worked, and did not require any forging. Similarly Iron smiths began to be employed on construction work sites for cutting and rivetting rolled steel structural assemblies.

A smithy or forge has following tools and facilities. Some of these are now made from very superior materials and automated.

Hearth

A Hearth is a place where coal, charcoal or other fuels are burnt. It is designed to contain and control the fire by amount of air, volume of fuel, and shape of the flame or heat spread. The hearth is aided by a Tuyere (a pipe through which air is blown into fire) and Bellows or blower (for forcing air into the tuyere). Bellows were once made of leather, and blowers are fans moved manually or by power. The hearth fire is used for effecting metallurgical changes like hardening, annealing, and tempering, etc.

Working at Anvil

An anvil is a block on which forging is done. It is placed as very steady piece and used as a support for all metal manipulations. Its size and shape vary according to the weight of work piece and nature of operations. Most anvils have a wide base for stability, a body, a flatter main work face, projection called horn, and variety of edge forms, holes and depressions.

Tongs are used for holding, carrying and turning a hot metal piece. Tongs have similar mechanisms, that is long arms but variety of holder mouths. Vices are clamping devices mounted on work bench end.

Chisels are used for cutting and chipping, but separate for hot and cold work. Punches are like chisels but blunt edged for forming holes or depressions. A drift is a large sized wide cone punch used for enlarging punched holes.

Hammers for smithy

Hammers for smithy

Hammers are called a smith’s hand. Hammers have different weights of heads, types of head formations such as pean, eye, cheeks, face, and lengths of handles. A crafts person on own uses lighter to medium weight hammer as other hand is used for holding the iron piece in a tong, whereas an assistant uses both hand for a heavier sledge hammer. Nowadays power hammers are used.

Modern smithy have other facilities like lathes, drilling, shearing, punching machines, cutting saws, grinders and welding equipments.

This article on IRON SMITHY was published on my other Blog >>> http://talking-interior-design.blogspot.in/2014/11/iron-smithy-craft-1.html

VELVET – Fabric of Luxury

Post 385 – by Gautam Shah 

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Velvet sleeves Portrait of Sir Thomas More (ART by Hans Holbein (1498–1543)). Oak, 74.2 × 59 cm. Frick Collection, New York

Piled weaves are used to create textured fabrics. The characteristic texture over the surface of fabric is formed of Tuft or, loops that are cut or uncut. The piles are made from either or both warp, and web yarns. Corduroy, Velvets, Velveteen, Valour, Plushes are such piled fabric constructions. Few other materials, such as the suede, flocked fibres, have Velvet like a feel.

velvet ropes

Velvet is a fabric formed of three elements: ‘a structural warp, a structural weft and a non structural or supplementary warp’. There are two types of looms in which pile-velvet were produced. On a regular velvet loom, double layered fabric is woven, with piles interlacing both layers. After weaving the fabric layers are sheared and separated into two single cloths. The inner faces of the fabrics have cut piles. On a wire loom the piles are formed through looping the yarns over the wire. After withdrawing the holding wire a knife cuts the loop, producing the cut pile. In another option the piles are not cut. The uncut piles have own texture and feel. Often there are dual constructions where one set of warp and web fibres form a plain weave base, and another set of alternate web or warp fibres create piles. The piles may be cut or left uncut as loops.

Blue velvet dress of Diana, Princess of Wales http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/photographs/vips.html

640px-The_velvet_and_corduroy_industry;_a_brief_account_of_the_various_processes_connected_with_the_manufacture_of_cotton_pile_goods_(1922)_(14784986205)

Velvet weaving originated somewhere on the far east side of the silk route. From here it must have been taken by the Arabs to Europe. The Persian and Hindi (India) word for velvet is Makhmal, literally meaning silky or smooth feel. Mughal and Safavid (Iranian) weavers not only exploited the properties of velvet but enriched it with gold and silver. They also dyed the fabric to dark and deep colours. In Europe, during 12th C. velvet found a base in Italian towns of Lucca, Sicily and Florence.

Throne chair of Stanislaus Augustus Warsaw

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The cut-pile method of fabric surface forming is used in two other types of fabrics: namely, Velveteens and Valours. Velveteen is usually made of cotton or its blends. It has shorter and stiffer pile that lies flat. It is sturdy and durable but has poorer draping, and lesser sheen. It is also less denser and so used as craft or toy making fabric. Velvet is a very ancient fabric, whereas velveteen is of recent making. Velour is often called a stretch fabric. It is used as stretching over furnishing fabric for shaping purposes.

Velvet curtain – Tableau curtain from inside of the scene Wikipedia Image by Sémhur

Crushed velvet is produced by manipulating the fabric whilst it is wet. The manipulations include twisting, crushing, brushing, creasing and embossing. Creases and folds in the fabric can flatten the pile or make it lumpy. Devore velvet is a fabric treated with a caustic solution as a pattern, to dissolve the piles in select sections. Embossed velvet is created by heat treatment with a patterned roller. Panne velvet is a result of treatment that forces piles to lie in particular direction.

Devore velvet -burn-out sections on velvet Wikipedia Image by Libby norman

Velvet fabrics due to the one-directional weave and piles show a characteristic nap. The nap affects the colour perception from length and width sides. Due to the nap, the fabric feels smoother in one direction than the other. It is very necessary to align or orient the nap consistently for all uses.

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Velvet, a piled fabric consumes lots of silk, and so is very costly. It is a light density and fragile material. Velvet is a method of fabric formation, and so can be used with many other fibres, such as cotton, rayons, acetate, polyesters, etc. Each fiber types or combination provides a different quality of velvet fabric. But it is the surface-feel that makes the fabric soft, smooth, elegant, cool to the skin and drape-able.

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Silk velvet was a highly prized fabric, identified with wealth, power and prestige. Synthetic velvets made from rayon and acetate are cheaper but heavier and do not drape well. All types of velvets can be dyed with saturated deep colours, due to its unique fibrous surface.

Jewel box lining

Velvets are used in everything dresses, gowns, horse carriages, furniture, clothes, jackets, handbags, scarves, skirts and blouses, drape and wall coverings. Mughal used it for making Shamiana (tents) for parties. Velvets have been used stage curtains. Velvet fabrics are opaque, and due this reasons are used as background for exhibit of art-pieces shadowboxes, jewellery boxes, photo boxes and lining the coffins.

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Diwan i Khas Red Fort Delhi Shamianas

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