John and Barb Harriman are not only neighbors of mine, but also friends and patrons. I have done a variety of wood related works for them over a lot of years, and here are a couple of commissioned pieces that are beyond carpentry. The first, as seen above, was a sign above their entry door for the name of their home, "Sky Harbor." Where they live is often above the clouds and so their home is, indeed, a harbor in the sky. The sign was basically their idea, and all I did was take that and make it a reality, The knots and lettering and border were carved and then glued and screwed to the background, and the braid bordering the sign probably took more time to carve than the rest, combined. The lettering is called, "Uncial," and has its roots in the manuscripts from the monasteries and also from gravestones in Ireland and Scotland from the time of the Celts. The knots also come from that time period and the same sources.

The second commissioned work featured here is a stand for John's drinking horn, and this was a different kind of a project. He wanted it in bronze, but light enough to carry easily, capable of holding the horn full of beer and not tipping over, and with Celtic type knots as part of the stand. Since the process for casting bronze involved a wax model to begin with, and then compensation for the shrinkage of the bronze in the casting process, the original wax model had to be a little bit larger as well as being capable of adjustment once it was cast. The method I came up with was to form it around the horn, using rope dipped in wax to make it hold its shape and then wax supports to make it more solid and allow the bronze to flow to all the areas evenly. Weaving the knots and getting them balanced took a lot of trial and error and I admit, it turned out to be a lot more tedious than I anticipated, but eventually I did get it done and the wax model looked like this:

The blond parts are the wax covered rope and the darker wax parts are the braces and connectors to hold the form and get bronze to flow into all parts of the stand. Those were removed after the bronze was cast and then the finish work was started. This involved cleaning up the areas where the bracing was attached, getting rid of burrs and sharp edges, and constantly adjusting the stand to the horn as I went along. These adjustments were to make the stand stable, solid, flat on the bottom so it wouldn't rock nor tip over, and so the horn would be in a pleasing position with the top being level so the beer wouldn't spill out. In the picture below you can see the shiny flat areas where the supports used to be and some of the spikes left over from the casting process. These all needed to be filed down to where those areas looked like the rope and became just part of the whole.

After the filing and sanding and adjustments were made, then came the patina work and a final waxing to make this stand compliment the drinking horn and be a carrier for it, not the main attraction in itself. Below is a closer picture of some of the knots involved, as well as the final color of the bronze. This was an interesting and challenging project and I appreciate the opportunity to put my skills to the test.

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Copyright 2000 - 2023 by Michael Dunn

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Enchanted Creek Studios

Box 455
Boulder Creek

Phone: 408 395-0881


Last updated on January 7, 2023