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Guillocheuse Extraordinaire Americaine! Merveilleuse!

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.

Calina with her trusty microscope.

Calina with her trusty microscope.

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.

Martin Matthews, David Wood-Heath and Callie Shelvin in the Shop

Martin Matthews, David Wood-Heath and Callie Shelvin in the Shop

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.

Guilloché Callie Shelvin VII

Guilloché Callie Shelvin II

Guilloché Callie Shelvin IV

Guilloché Callie Shelvin III
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.

Gallery Page

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!

Photo by and Courtesy of James Miller

Central Bowl Of Set 2 of 3

 

New Page Added

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.

Bibliography Page Added

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!

Kenloc Straight Line Engine Turning Machine

Kenloc Straight Line Engine Turning Machine After Rebuild and Restoration

Kenloc Straight Line Engine Turning Machine As Received From Seller

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.

Fascination

A disc being engraved on a straight line engine turning machine rebuilt, restored, and owned by Lew Wackler

Faberge, Van Cleef and Arpels, Tiffany and Cartier are among the famous houses that utilized engine turned and guilloche engraved work  in their designs. After seeing an exquisite piece well designed, and then executed using these techniques, it is difficult for one not to develop a fascination to know more about the machines used to create them. How far that fascination goes, and in what direction can also be very interesting. Faberge items are collected today and there are often several sales each year at auction  houses such as Sotheby’s specializing in Faberge items and “Objets de Vertu”, which very often include a variety of engine turned objects. Malcolm S. Forbes fascination led him to amass a huge collection of Faberge items, including 9 of the only 50 Imperial Eggs that exist. This collection was due to be sold at auction in 2004, but a Russian oil tycoon, perhaps even more fascinated than Mr. Forbes, purchased the entire Forbes collection prior to the scheduled sale. Tales of the pursuit by those fascinated by them of these rare objects are legend. The fascination found in these posts, however, will be mine. My fascination is not as a collector, but as one interested in using the machines themselves to produce work. It is my hope that others will find a similar fascination and that these posts and pages will become a conduit for spreading as much information as possible to those who are similarly fascinated.

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