Ancient to contemporary

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Earlier this year there was a short series on BBC4 about ancient treasures found in the UK. They showed the Broighter Gold Hoard, and I was very taken with how it was all gold and made without soldering parts together.  There is a cup with rings on its edge so it looks like a small cauldron. a heavily decorated torc and a small boat with oars, mast, yardarm, and some marine tools.  I couldn’t help but be inspired by the boat and thought how in many ways it seemed to be a contemporary object.  Now, as when it was made in the 1st century BC, a model boat can be used to symbolise life’s journey, references mythic epic journeys, and passage from life to death.

Having made some sketches in early summer and thought about what I wanted to do next, I set out to make my own boat in copper in the way the Broighter boat was made.

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thumb_IMG_6733_1024I decided on a more pointed bow and less deep hull and then cut a blank out of sheet copper using the guillotine.

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I do not know what was the starting point for the ancient gold craftsman – was it a crude ingot from smelting?  Would cutting be by chisel or were saws or shears used?  With every question I raise, I think that maybe I should go to the Museum of Ireland where the hoard resides [or at least write to them].  Anyway, as with the bowls in earlier posts, it was a repeat of annealing [making the metal soft], beating it towards the shape wanted until it had become work-hardened, and then anneal again.

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Once happy with the form I had to hold it to drill holes for the oars and the rivets for the seats.

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It looked to me that it would be tricky to get the seats the right size so I made templates in thin card as each seat was a different length and the folds in at the end at different angles.

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You may have noticed the other whitish object in the left-hand picture – it is tooth of a horse or cow we found in the outer hebrides this year.  I decided to drill a hole in ti to help stabilise the mast and give the boat some ballast.  Below are a few shots of the finished boat.

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