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4 posters

    Tiller decorative carving?

    kiltedcelt
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    Tiller decorative carving? Empty Tiller decorative carving?

    Post by kiltedcelt Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:14 pm

    I'm in the process of constructing this bow:

    Tiller decorative carving? HuntingxbowGerman1590-2

    It's a German hunting bow from 1590, on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK. While I'm not trying to duplicate it exactly, I am hoping to achieve something extremely close to the look of the original. Very shortly, I will be at the point of adding the textural details to the tiller as well as the ivory overlays. I ordered a digital high-resolution download of the original images and found that the checkered pattern on the sides of the tiller is in fact small leaves.

    Tiller decorative carving? German1590bowdetailcrop

    Now, my question is, was each of these little leaves hand carved, or did the maker create a metal stamp and simply stamp the leaf pattern on the sides of the tiller. It's obviously a LOT of carving if that's the case and the engraved details on the ivory were most certainly done by hand so it's not inconceivable that the leaves on the tiller were all hand carved. Getting a truly up close and in-person view would surely indicate whether the leaves show signs of compressed wood fibers around the edges that would be the result of using a stamp. However, not being able to look at the original this photo is the best I'm going to get, so it's all speculation at this point. Any ideas, suggestions, thoughts? I'm not even sure how easy it would be to make a stamp, but my first inclination along those lines was to use my dremel to sculpt one from the end of a very large 60d size nail.
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    Tiller decorative carving? Empty Re: Tiller decorative carving?

    Post by testhero Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:00 pm

    Could be either from the Photos as good as they are. Your best shot is to get in touch with the V&A Curatorial staff and ask their opinion. They might be busy but they are enthusiasts and if you tell them what you are doing they will give you an opinion.
    kiltedcelt
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    Tiller decorative carving? Empty Re: Tiller decorative carving?

    Post by kiltedcelt Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:02 pm

    I was just looking at the full version on my computer and blowing it up some in magnification. I'm pretty sure it was done with a stamp. The shapes of the leaves are far too consistent to be carved I think.
    kiwijim
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    Tiller decorative carving? Empty Re: Tiller decorative carving?

    Post by kiwijim Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:49 am

    Hi guys
    I would say the tiller is carved because:
    1) Every leaf is slightly different
    2) Stamped wood would loose definition over 500 years. This design still has sharp edges- look at the diference between stamped and carved checkering to see what I mean
    3)I do not think a craftsman of the ability that made this bow would have stooped to stamping a design on the tiller. He would have had the ability or connections to have it carved
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    Tiller decorative carving? Empty Re: Tiller decorative carving?

    Post by Pavise Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:05 am

    Yes, kiwijim is right. Unlike vegetable tanned leather, wood is not easily conditioned so as to accept a sharply defined stamped impression and in fact there is a patented process which employs ammonia fumes that permeate the wood fibres enough that they become soft and receptive to "pressed" images etc. Steaming or boiling may have been employed in pursuit of such speedier results, but I doubt it. Embellishments like shown are invariably done after a lot of time and materials have been invested in a weapon. Such period crossbows were undoubtedly carved the hard and proper way and we should never underestimate the painstaking skills of artisans gone by, or indeed those who today still faithfully follow in their footsteps.
    Nice picture kiwijim. Kia pai.
    Pavise


    Last edited by Pavise on Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:31 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
    kiltedcelt
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    Tiller decorative carving? Empty Re: Tiller decorative carving?

    Post by kiltedcelt Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:59 pm

    I've done some more looking with the image magnified even more and I believe you're all correct. This is a carved detail. I also posted this question on a Medieval woodworking forum and got a few tips on how it may actually have been done. Actually, I'm kinda glad it was done by carving instead of stamping because that means I don't have to go to the trouble of trying to make a stamp. Also, it sounds from what I've read like carving all those little leaves is probably not that difficult. It's probably a bit like a form of chip carving, which while it takes some skill is not necessarily that difficult to do.

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