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    mini-ulrich questions

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    stuckinthemud1
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    mini-ulrich questions

    Post by stuckinthemud1 on Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:57 pm

    First topic message reminder :

    I am new to all this, and have spent the last week reading through the medieval/early crossbows forum, and  Iolo's primer (thanks Geezer, really enjoyed it).  Anyway, I do like the curvy Ulrich-type of crossbow and think I am going to cut my teeth with a mini version (1:4 scale), using a pin-lock like in the loose-lam crossbow by kenh.

    I have a number of questions about the prod.

    I am going to make a wooden prod; at small scale, a laminate prod is probably un-necessary but am unsure as to how to proceed. I know the prod must describe a long shallow v when viewed from the front elevation but carving the prod so that the limbs reduce in thickness when viewed from above (like on a long-bow) will cut through the grain - is this a no-no? Any advice on making solid wood prods gratefully accepted as I want to do this as a technical exercise, preparing for a larger bow at a later stage.

      A fly in this ointment is UK crossbow law - I want to involve my kids in the project but to do so the 'bow will have to qualify as a 'toy' as I believe the current legislation is that no-one under the age of 17 can have anything to do with a crossbow - even if supervised by an adult over the age of 21???

    Thanks in advance
    Stuck
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    mac
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by mac on Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:39 am

    This link has some of the best detail.  There are places where the coloring material has fallen out, and the true nature of the decorative recesses can be seen.  http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/21940?img=4#fullscreen

    It looks to me like the designs were more likely to have been cut than stamped.  I think this for three reasons.  The first is that the edges are quite sharp.  (You can see this in places where the colored filling material has fallen out.)  The second is that the "repeats" in the design are not identical. The third is that stamped work in wood is not very stable over time.  Humidity can make it revert to its original form. 


    I am betting that the coloring in the recesses has always been something dark. It seems to be the same color everywhere, which suggests that it is light fast.  Perhaps the pigment is carbon or iron oxide.  The medium looks like it was thicker than paint.  There are places where I think I can see the original edges of the coloring, and it looks like it was rather viscous when applied.

    (edit)

    I have just looked at that pic again, and there are traces of what looks like the same coloring mater in some of the inscription in the bone trigger escutcheon plate. 


    Mac

    (further edit)  This image shows how the fancy inlaid black horn blends into the inlaid coloring material.  I see this as further evidence that the original color of the viscous inlay material was black.  http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/21940?img=9#fullscreen

    I expect to see Dirk Breiding on wednesday.  He has worked with this bow in connection with his publication on the crossbows in the Met.  I will ask him if he has any clues about the color.  Are there any other questions I should ask him while I am at it?
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by Geezer on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:18 am

    Durn: there's another of my pet theories, shot down by the Peerles Mac.  Thanks Mac for the insights.  Geezer
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by mac on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:29 am

    There is a lot of similarity between the decorative work on the Ulric bow and some of the fancier violins by Stradivari.   I have just asked over on a violin-making board I participate in whether anyone knows what material Strad used in his black inlay.  I will report back if I get some information.



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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by mac on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:33 am

    Geezer wrote:Durn: there's another of my pet theories, shot down by the Peerles Mac.  Thanks Mac for the insights.  Geezer
    Thanks for being a good sport!  I always feel bad about attacking pet theories....but I just cant stop myself. 

    Mac
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by Geezer on Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:05 am

    Don't sweat it, Mac, I'd rather know the facts than be self-congratulatory and wrong-wrong-wrong!  
    By the way, were you in Mississippi a couple of weeks back?  I'd swear I saw you wandering around cheapside.  If so, it's too bad you missed seeing Lightly's Ulrich bow... it's a stunner in person. 
    Geezer/Iolo
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    mac
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by mac on Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:41 am

    Mississippi!?  Gracious sakes!  Strange though it is to say,  I must have another doppelganger.   I say "another", because I heard tell on one in Florida last week.  The world just keeps getting weirder and weirder.  He wasn't playing a fiddle, was he?  My other evil twin apparently plays well enough that folks will pay to hear it. 

    Mac

    stuckinthemud1
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by stuckinthemud1 on Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:33 pm

    mac wrote:This link has some of the best detail.  There are places where the coloring material has fallen out, and the true nature of the decorative recesses can be seen.  http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/21940?img=4#fullscreen

    It looks to me like the designs were more likely to have been cut than stamped.  I think this for three reasons.  The first is that the edges are quite sharp.  (You can see this in places where the colored filling material has fallen out.)  The second is that the "repeats" in the design are not identical. The third is that stamped work in wood is not very stable over time.  Humidity can make it revert to its original form. 


    I am betting that the coloring in the recesses has always been something dark. It seems to be the same color everywhere, which suggests that it is light fast.  Perhaps the pigment is carbon or iron oxide.  The medium looks like it was thicker than paint.  There are places where I think I can see the original edges of the coloring, and it looks like it was rather viscous when applied.

    (edit)

    I have just looked at that pic again, and there are traces of what looks like the same coloring mater in some of the inscription in the bone trigger escutcheon plate. 


    Mac

    (further edit)  This image shows how the fancy inlaid black horn blends into the inlaid coloring material.  I see this as further evidence that the original color of the viscous inlay material was black.  http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/21940?img=9#fullscreen

    I expect to see Dirk Breiding on wednesday.  He has worked with this bow in connection with his publication on the crossbows in the Met.  I will ask him if he has any clues about the color.  Are there any other questions I should ask him while I am at it?

    Hi Mac,
    If you should see Dick Breiding, and at the risk of both being cheeky, and of displaying my ignorance; in previous Ulrich threads, Lightly (I think, sorry if I'm wrong) said the stock is a fruit-wood, would be good to confirm which one  - German woodcarvers of that period preferred Apple as a rule but that is a pale colour, cherry is perhaps the most likely fruit wood.  Also, are the ivory inlays glued-and-pinned, or just glued? While we are at it, the polychroming seems to have been cut with a variety of tools - most likely a combination of gouges, and chisels, and perhaps with a draw-knife but not using v-tools (aka parting tools), is this a fair analysis?

    Oh, I have always been curious as to whether the stock is carved from a whole branch or trunk to take advantage of the round shape- or from a squared off block in the modern way.
    Thanks in advance,

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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by mac on Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:19 pm

    Stuck,

    I will see if Dirk B knows the answers.

    In the mean time, if you look at the grain lines in the place where the stock narrows between the socket and the nut well on the underside here...  http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/21940?img=1#fullscreen   ... I think you will agree that the stock was not cut from a branch, but rather from a plank.   The annual rings are cut through here, and you can see that they are of a much larger radius than if the stock had been made of branch-wood. 

    Also.  I do not find any pins in the bone (I don't think it is ivory, in spite of the text) inlays.  This is pretty consistent with what I have seen in pictures of tillers that have lost their inlays.  I am pretty sure that the most common thing is to use glue.  Now, that said, I don't know what glut they use.  I have had poor luck with hide glue in this application because of its brittleness.

    Mac

    stuckinthemud1
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by stuckinthemud1 on Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:09 am

    Hi Mac,

    you have much better observation skills than me, I never spotted those growth rings. I believe you are correct, they do look to be of a wide radius, and I would agree that, therefore, the tiller would be cut from a board.  Your comments on the inlays is fascinating - not ivory?  That opens up possibilities for a materially accurate replica.  I have done a little reading around concerning the poychroming, and both copper and silver tarnish to black, the image here http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/21940?img=9#fullscreen
     shows a copper, I think, (I am colour-blind, no really I mean it Smile ) leaf descending in the top centre of the image.  There is so much that can happen to colours in and on timber, particularly much-handled objects where the acids in sweat from hands can cause really nasty effects, it would be good to get another opinion.

    As far as glues are concerned, I thought that hide glue and fish glue were about the limit of late medieval technology????

    Stuck
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by mac on Tue Apr 01, 2014 6:54 am

    Stuck,

    I will check with Dirk B, about the material.  I heard him complain that some of the accession records are a bit optimistic about the materials.

    I am pretty sure that what we are seeing there is inlaid horn.  It is a separate piece of horn from the one that forms the edge of the nut-well, and the color match is not as good as it might be.   In this pic,   http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/21940?img=11#fullscreen   we can see the corresponding inlay on both ends of the other side of the nut-well.  They are a somewhat better color match for the dark brown horn that forms the edges of the nut-well.

    In addition to the collagen glues,  there are the glues made on milk proteins.  They also had several gums and resins to work with, but I think our understanding of how they might have used them is murky.  Cutlers used resins combined with inorganic material to make cements.  http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=1403&hl  http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=29427&highlight=glue+tang  These cements were probably known to the crossbow makers as well. 

    I have not done as much work with traditional glues as I would like to. When I found that hide glue would not do for my bone nut bearings, I used epoxy and promised myself that I would figure out an authentic solution... someday.  

    Mac

    stuckinthemud1
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by stuckinthemud1 on Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:51 pm

    Thanks for the links Mac, enjoyed mooching around the bladesmith forum.  I really should have remembered pitch-based glues! Had a quick peek at your 'site too, really love your work.

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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by mac on Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:35 pm

    Stuck,

    I spent some time today talking crossbows with Dirk Breiding, and bought a copy of his book as well.  He said that he had brought in an expert on skeletal materials to look at the crossbows, and the expert told him that he could tell from across the room  that the inlays were not ivory.  They are described as staghorn in the book.  It's important to maintain a sharp distinction between staghorn and true horn. Staghorn is essential bone, while the true horn is akin to fingernail.

    He could not remember off hand what wood was used in the tiller, but he thinks he remembers having sent a sample to be looked at by an expert.  In any case, the book says the it's European hornbeam. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpinus_betulus  This is a bit of a surprise to me. 

    Mac

    stuckinthemud1
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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by stuckinthemud1 on Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:18 am

    I'll order a copy of the book, I think, but in the mean time, hornbeam is a major surprise - it is almost white in colour.  So, was the Ulrich stained or has it aged to that colour?  If it has aged then the original colour scheme was almost exactly the opposite from what we see now, with bone-white wood with matching carved bone inlays and black polychroming?

    If that is the case, then the scheme would really be eye-popping!

    Stag horn, so is that like deer-antlers then?

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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

    Post by mac on Fri Apr 04, 2014 7:56 am

    Yes.  Staghorn is deer antlers.  Now, that said, all deer antlers are not created equal.  Species with large antlers tend to have a greater amount of porous bone in the centers of the antlers.  This limits how much shaping you can do.

    I was about to say some things about the antlers available from North American deer, but then I saw your location.

    You probably want the red deer's antlers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_deer   The antlers of the fallow dear http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallow_deer might serve you for things that require a flatter, broader plates.  

    Mac

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    first Ulrich panel carved

    Post by stuckinthemud1 on Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:09 pm

    Thanks for your advice Mac, this is my initial attempt at making and carving a piece of anchor plate. The carving is based on the archangel Michael carving from the 'fore-grip' of the Ulrich crossbow.  On the off-chance that you might chat with Dirk Breiding, I have carved the 'crosslet' as a dragon - having studied the hd images from the Met museum I believe the carving has a head and possibly wings and a pointed tail; I would welcome any input on this.

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    Re: mini-ulrich questions

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