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A Wassail Bowl for the Thorne Rooms


Wm. R. Robertson

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Wm. R. Robertson

As many of you know the Thorne Rooms at The Art Institute of Chicago have been adding items to decorate them for Christmas so what could be more perfect than a Wassail bowl for a Tudor room. This is adapted from the design of a English example from the 1600's. It is made of Lignum Vitae and old ivory. It is about 1" in diameter and 1 3/4" tall and I did this in 2010.

 

 

 

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Now for how it is done....... the parts are turned to shape and then mounted on a rose engine, this one is French from about 1840-50. The machine is hand powered and I run it about 2 rpm with depth of cut between .001 and .002"..... so some of the deeper patterns take about 10 minutes per line. To hold the work I mount it in a collet holder, either ER-16 or WW... that goes in a 3 jaw chuck, I have adapters made to adapt the odd size rose engine threads to the spindle threads of a Rivett lathe...... all this can be trued up with a centering chuck that is pretty standard on a rose engine.

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The bowl was bored first with a ball mill, screwed to it's mandrel and turned to size then transfered to rose engine....

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Here is the lower ivory piece being done with a form tool

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Wm. R. Robertson

The bowl is assembled by screwing it together.... the threads are all 0-80...... 

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The finials are turned, drilled and mounted...... these were a bit small..... only 3/16" long

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All in all it was a pretty fun project.... it has been on my list for 10 years and I have thought about just how I would do it...... it all went pretty much as planned...... next I have to make the matching table and candle stands for it!..... they make the bowl look like the simple part!

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Wm. R. Robertson

Just in case you wonder what these machines look like here is a little bit about them…..

I am the lucky owner of one of these machines, it was made by A. Dugeut Mechanician about 1835-40. We think he was working in Paris. He also made the rose engine recently sold at the Crom auction at Skinner's (shown below) however it is unsigned. These machines at one time were both working near each other..... the Crom engine was in Brequet's workshop and mine was at Cartier's. One of the neatest things is mine came from it's last user with all it's goodies..... it was never stored or in disuse........ one reason this kind of machine will last for a 150 years is they only run about 2 rpm........ just keep them oiler!

Here is the Brequet engine from Skinner's... hence the nice photo.... my machine looks nearly identical

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Wm. R. Robertson

For a split second this Wassail bowl was shown on the Today Show on Christmas morning........ of course the part where they told about how it was made ended up on the cutting room floor, I guess it was to technical for Christmas morning.


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ElgaKoster

This piece is just so cool. Would it be possible to do something like this with a normal lathe? Two revolutions per minute is quite slow.

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Wm. R. Robertson

It would have to be a heavily modified lathe, basically the headstock moves back and forth, and side to side as it turns hence why so slow. This type of work is referred to today as ornamental turning.... This is whole other hobby so to speak with web sites, clubs, books, etc. all over the world. One thing is it is pretty expensive, the machines to do this don't come cheap, last year a wonderful Lathe with accessories by Holtzappfel sold for $ 225,000. There are also lots of plans out there to build your own machines. It was the hobby of Royalty back in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is whole different world and one that has fascinated me for the past 35 years!

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Debora Beijerbacht

WOW! This is just so fascinating! Not surprisingly I remember this bowl from a previous meeting we had. Even made in life size it's a marvelous accomplishment, but to make one in miniature…?! I can see why you say it's a whole different world, although your piece stands very much in-between. The tools used are so wonderfully complicated, yet so functional. I admire you greatly you're able to make these types of lathes work for you and create such a delicate and ornamental piece. 

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  • 1 month later...

Stunning piece Bill...absolutely stunning.  I really appreciate the "how to" and the background on the lathe.  Looking forward to seeing pictures of the matching set pieces.

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  • 1 year later...
WeekendMiniaturist

It's Christmas time again, and as I was thinking about the Thorne Rooms decorated for Christmas, and one thought led to another and I remembered the Wassail Bowl... .it is wonderful to review this thread again on the forum. 

 

The Wassail Bowl is an  incredible masterpiece... I read your posts about the Rose Engine on the Practical Machinist forum...and the posts in the PMF definitely fills in more details....  the PFM makes me wonder if you will make something else for our miniature world with your Rose Engine.

 

I just received the book, "The Principles & Practice of Ornamental & Complex Turning" by John Jacob Holtzapffel.  (Dover edition 1973)  The illustrations in this book are so beautiful.  The resulting turnings remind me of the chalices that were in the Indiana Jones movie.  I don't know if I will make it through the book, but I looked up "Hotzapffel" as a result of the type of screw that we made in our class for the needlework stand.  Still, so much to learn... 

 

The Ivory vase, pg 164 is exquisite!  That picture on the cover is, I admit the entire reason I bought the book; I wanted to read about that vase.,,, but my mind wanders when I see the chessmen and dome on page 231.  That would be an incredible chess set.  Wish I could make a chess set with those chessmen for our sons.

 

I'm feeling a great need to go find some ornamental turners....

 

or

 

Can we send a film crew to your workshop to see you turn on your rose engine at 2rpm?  How about a tripod for your Ipad?

It is probably in your living room...great coffee table piece for the guys, yes?  If I had one, I would set it next to my fireplace. 

The stitched fireplace screen- gone in 60 seconds, and I love my antique fireplace screen. 

 

I'm pretty simple as I'm still fascinated with an indexing jig and a mill set up; I can't imagine seeing one of these ornamental lathes in action... so I went searching on youtube....my search this evening finds that I can purchase the entire Lindow Machine Works Lathe package for a mere $14,250...  so short of sending a filming crew to WRR's workshop, you can see the current Rose Engines online.

 

:)

 

Tamra

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miraclechicken

I'm so glad this topic was revisited because---as usual---I never saw it.......This is a first time viewing for me and wow, I have no words---

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