Josh Shapiro, by day, is a high school principal and teacher. By night, however, he has been teaching himself engine turning, and the results speak for themselves. This is a photo of what he considers his “first acceptable” watch face dial. The 18K numerals are not of his making, but came from a vintage Hamilton pocket watch. He is a student of watchmaking and a huge fan of the late George Daniels as well as Roger Smith. He is now taking orders for watch face dials and if anyone would like to get in touch with him, please let me know and I will send contact information along to him.
Engine Turning is alive and well and being practiced and taught in the American Northwest.
Brittany Nicole Cox is an antiquarian horologist, conservator, preservationist, and restorationist whose atelier is located in the Seattle, Washington area. She is tirelessly working to generate renewed interest in the art of engine turning through classes at her workshop. Already having hosted two sold-out sessions led by master clockmaker, David Lindow, Brittany is sharing her knowledge to enthusiastic students to wide acclaim.
Photos shown here, supplied by Brittany herself, show the class in progress as well as the tangible results from it.
Below, as well as here, there is a link to her web site and where it is possible to subscribe to her truly magnificent blog.
I wholeheartedly recommend signing up to keep up with what is going on with engine turing classes. One also might wish to keep up with others subjects of which Brittany is a specialist. These classes are only a small portion of the goings on in her shop which include Automata, Clock Making, Ornamental Turning and Restoration.
As a courtesy to anyone wishing to sell a machine, I am happy to list it here on the blog and perhaps I will even create a special area for this as it seems more and more difficult to find machines at good prices. I must say that I bear no responsibility for anything relative to the sale or purchase and that listing a machine here is only as a service to buyers and sellers! If interested, please email me and I will put you in touch with the seller!
This machine was gone over by Steve White, a tool and die maker and an engine turning expert who has several YouTube videos available for view.
One Straight-Line Machine from about the 1940’s. It has all been rebuilt and repainted.
There are several pattern bars that go with the machine. The base and table are not original to the machine but look and fit perfect. The table is made of 1 inch thick steel plate. The headstock, cross slide and Pattern bar holder are in all vg working cond. There is a built-in leveling chuck in the head stock.
John Edwards has compiled an huge amount of information and has published it as, “Hotzapffel, Volume VI”. He has just received the second edition run from the printers and it is currently available at his web site, Ornamental Turning. I am inserting a link to his site at the bottom of this blog and also adding this book to the bibliography section. This book is more concerned with ornamental turning than engine turning or guilloché, but since many of us have an interest in both, I think it is very important to note it. John’s web site is a treasure trove of information and an excellent resource. This book was a Herculean effort on John’s part to produce and well worth the investment! It is a prized addition to my library.
To Quote From John’s web site:
“The title of this book is really a stratagem, intended to attract experienced Ornamental Turners who are aware that the great work “Turning and Mechanical Manipulation” by John Jacob and Charles Holtzapffel was planned to be extended to six volumes but only five were completed. A note by Holtzapffels in Volume V made in preparation for the final volume indicates that Volume VI would deal with the Principles and Practice of Amateur Mechanical Engineering, namely: lathes with sliding rests for metal turning, self-acting and screw-cutting lathes, drilling machines, planing engines, key-groove slotting and paring machines, wheel-cutting and shaping machines, etc.
Interesting though that might be from an historic point of view, very little of Holtzapffel’s material on amateur mechanical engineering has come to the attention of the compiler and, in any event, the subject has been well-covered by other 19th century writers. The compiler of this book cherishes the instinct that the growing number of Ornamental Turners working at the beginning of the twentieth century would surely have demanded vociferously that Holtzapffel should devote a new volume to the many known ornamental turning techniques and accessories that had not been included in Volume V. This book is intended to go some way towards filling this gap and it is therefore hoped that it will not be a disappointment to the reader.
Holtzapffel & Co. had long provided hand-written notebooks for buyers of their more exotic equipment, like Epicycloidal and Rose Cutting Frames and Geometric Chucks; some of these are quite rare and some of the information contained in them has never been published generally. Also, around the turn of the century several typescripts were issued by Holtzapffels describing various forms of Rose-turning apparatus and the automatic drives which were developed to aid their use.
This book brings together these Holtzapffel Notes with contemporary magazine articles describing new apparatus introduced by them subsequent to the publication of Volume 5 in 1884. Additional material is taken from notes by amateurs about their own inventions and details of some of the patents registered by the inventors. In order to make this book more comprehensive, some inventions adopted exclusively by other makers have been included; although it is quite unlikely that Holtzapffels would have described any equipment not made by them. Some of these manuscripts are very rare, not having been published previously, and others were issued to a limited circulation or are from magazines that have long been out of print. The purpose of this book is to make this information more readily available to ornamental turners of the present time. For continuity the material is arranged according to subject with Holtzapffel papers and those by other authors interspersed.”
Buried in the comments section of the “About” tab is a link to a CBC video from 1984 titled, “All That Glistens”. This is an investment well worth the nearly one hour it takes to view! The link was sent in by James Miller, a recently retired master goldsmith who has worked with some of the most proficient masters of engine turning and enameling in the world, evidenced by the photos he so generously provided that can be found in the gallery section. When he is impressed, it must be something of extremely high quality and this certainly is. I am inserting it below to hopefully give it more prominence. For those of us who are engine turners/guillocheurs, the segment of Gerald Mayo working on a solid gold Cartier minaudière is a wonder to behold! And, there is so much more on the video including a master silversmith, a presentation sword maker, a metal spinner, Paloma Picasso consulting with a goldsmith at Tiffany & Co., a gem carver from Idar-Oberstein, and much more:
Meet Calina Shevlin, guillocheuse extraordinaire! Now living in the Geneva area of Switzerland, Callie is an American educated and trained guillocheuse or guillocheure, if you prefer.
As a youngster, her mother took her to a museum where she saw for the first time vitreous enameled and guilloché objects and jewels made by Fabergé. This visit and the question of “how is that done?” resulted in a passion bordering on obsession that led her to learn the art from a master goldsmith and tool maker in the USA, G. Phil Poirier. This training happened during and in between her studies to earn a Masters Degree in Fine Arts (MFA) Metalsmithing and Jewelry.
Wanting to perfect her skills and to learn more, Calina bravely supplied sample pieces of her work in order to apply to a position at a prestigious Swiss watchmaker that specializes in guilloché. This move to the Vallée de Joux placed Calina straight into the heart of Swiss watchmaking and in the company of the legends of engine turning.
Prior to leaving for Switzerland, Calina had begun writing a book on the history of guilloché. Her proximity to masters of the art, including Martin Matthews, and George Daniels, David Wood-Heath and so many others afforded her the ability to interview them. This book will finally become a reality and is currently in the publishing process, due out early 2015. It will be titled, “The Definitive History of Guilloché”. It is very exciting to see this book become a reality and it promises to be a comprehensive history of the art as well as a compendium of how to for engine turning.
Like so many who continue to practice engine turning, Calina Calina fears that, due to the increasing rarity of machines outside of museums, the very high prices for those machines that do become available, and the loss of masters to teach the art, it will be lost in the near future to those who would practice independently. It is for these reasons that she has written this book as well as to reach and give the knowledge to a wider audience. Calina has also begun to offer workshops to learn guilloché, with the first one scheduled for the last week of July 2015, in Taos, NM.
Calina can be found on LinkedIn and will be presenting and giving demonstrations at the Ornamental Turners International Biennial Symposium in Columbus, Ohio USA October 2-5, 2014. More information on the OTI Symposium and OTI membership can be found at: www.ornamentalturners.org . This is a robust organization and well worth investigation.
All Guilloché shown here is by Calina Shelvin.
Mr. James Miller, an extraordinary goldsmith has kindly sent several photos that are now posted on a new page, titled, “Gallery”. These are the works of modern day masters in their field; Mr. Miller as a goldsmith, and his collaborators who of course include renowned engine turners/ guillocheurs and enamelists. Additional photos to add to the Gallery would most certainly be welcome!
Hello! Looking at the top of the “Home” page, you will find another page added. It is titled, “Engine Turning/Guilloché Guide and Glossary”. It is located alongside “About” and “Bibliography”. Hopefully, it can be added to and expanded over time with the assistance of anyone who would like to share knowledge of this art.
I have begun a compilation of both instructive and inspirational books/articles/papers which will serve as a bibliography of sorts. This page can be found at the top of the home page. I will be adding to it and hope to receive suggestions in an attempt to make it as thorough as possible. Please have a look and do please contribute!
These two photographs are of a Kenloc Straight Line Engine Turning Machine that I purchased a few years ago. The one on the bottom shows the machine as it was originally received-covered in old grease, a some rust, and generally suffering the effects of storage and neglect. The one on the top shows the machine as it is today. The rebuild and renovation was completed only in the last few weeks. And, while the machine is fully operational and capable of excellent work now, there are still modifications and improvements planned to enhance its work capabilities. Getting the machine from the condition seen on the bottom to the condition of the same machine seen on the top has been am amazing journey for me and one that I believe needs to be shared.
Before purchasing the machine, I searched for and read everything I could find on the subject of guilloche engraving on metal. It was initially a scanty and difficult search. I turned up just enough information to feed the fuel of my fascination and give me a ridiculously high degree of confidence that I could actually rebuild a 90 or so year old machine of this type alone in my studio in rural South Carolina. Fortunately, circumstances intervened that led me to more reading materials that securely put my over-confidence in check. In a future post, I will share my current bibliography with those interested in learning more about this subject.
I am absolutely not a machinist. A reasonable familiarity with, and access to, machines and machinery is very important in attempting an endeavor such as this, something I did not realize at the outset. Fortunately, before I could get myself into too much trouble by beginning to rebuild the machine on my own, events led to a serendipitous move to the town of Boulder, Colorado, home to the award winning and renowned gem cutter, lapidary, custom knifemaker, toolmaker and expert in engine turning, guilloche as well as ornamental turning, and instructor in all of these, Lew Wackler. Lew has rebuilt over a dozen straight line engine turning machines, rose engines, and ornamental lathes and is a rare expert in this field. Not only does he possess the working knowledge to breath new life into these machines, he also was a workmaster for a team of artisans, craftsmen, clockmakers, and technicians sometimes working all over the world making Faberge style objects that were sold to discerning collectors internationally. Rather than treading water attempting to teach myself to not only restore my machine, but to actually use it to produce work, I have found in Lew a guide and master who has literally shaved years off of what will still be for me a long process of becoming proficient with these machines.
Without Lew Wackler, the machine in the top photograph would not have been possible. His guidance and methodology will figure prominently in the posts to follow.