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Medieval goldsmiths - Treasures of Heaven at the British Museum

Video transcript
medieval Goldsmith's will it were one of the most important of craftsmen because they worked in precious metals they worked in gold and silver Dahl was the object of the goldsmith was to make as impressive an object for the church as he could the techniques that the Goldsmith's used they were like varied engraving metal to produce patterns often floral patterns there was obviously hammering metal hammering metal from behind which is called rapoo say repres a is a French word that means to push from the back I've chosen to use an ancient technique in my modern designs because I love the timelessness of repa say I love the evidence of toolmarks the hand of the maker and the intimate creation process one of the objects that fascinated me in the exhibition was the reliquary casket of saints Adrian and Natalia not only because it's an exquisite example of medieval ray per se but it's a captivating story as well where Natalia's husband is martyred and she's so proud of his martyrdom that she carries his severed hand with her back to sea and takes it in her bed so I thought I would replicate the techniques that the medieval craftsmen used and make the hand the severed hand of Adrian so this is an enlargement of st. Adrian being martyred I'm going to do a low relief of st. Adrian's hand here to show you the techniques that the medieval craftsmen might have used to create this beautiful object I'd start with a sheet of fine silver and cut the size piece that I need off the silver and then I'll transfer the design and then I will scribe the outline with a fine steel scribing tool so I can see where I'm going when I move over to the chasing station there's this fascinating development of reliquaries as shaped like the parts of body that the bone kick came from we've seen the parts of feet arms heads or fingers presumably to enhance its value and its authority as a relic great so now chasing is finished it's time to put it in the pitch pot for the Ripper's a so now I don't need to heat the metal because it's already been annealed but what I do need to do is heat the pitch pitch is basically pine resin tallow brick dust and other materials melted into this compound that when it's heated it becomes sticky as tar and when it's cold it's hard as wood the idea of pitch is that it gives you a resistant surface to do the Ripper say work into without hammering the metal flat like a steel block wood so that's why I've inverted the piece in the pitch I'm going to work from reverse of it the negative I'm going to push the relief down into the pitch and hope that from experience that it's going to look something like the finished relief that I'm that's my objective this is a fantastic relic Riya sent Anastasius the structure is of silver but it's decorated partly with gilding and partly with niello niello is the silver sulphide that hardens and looks rather like a sort of black it black enamel the doors would actually open so the faithful could actually see the relic inside and each of them is decorated each door is decorated with crosses and little exquisite little knobs that could the priests could open the architecture is composed of openings raposa arches doors and the little chapels the each end representing metal because you can create a relief scene from one continuous piece of metal and materials use to work with as you've seen are very basic and accessible and essentially unchanged since the ancient Egyptians so it's a technique that she used a lot in the Middle Ages all through history and I like to think that I carry on a little bit of that heritage in the work that I do you