Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Raising Hell - How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Boss

I was approached by a friend that specializes in Anglo-Saxon metalwork recently and asked to replicate the Iron Boss of the Sutton Hoo shield. This is not the first time I have made a version  of this boss but then I used modern methods, this time it is destined for a museum and so they wanted it to be as authentic as possible so we agreed that raising it from a plate would be the best way.

The original boss from Sutton Hoo, the iron boss is almost
completely covered in  gold and silver plated foils so my
reconstruction will be almost hidden.

The boss had to match as closely as possible the dimensions in the archaeological report, sadly the measurement list, scale drawings and other dimensions given in the text all seem to contradict each other, even the mounts that fit onto the boss don't necessarily match as you would expect, after a bit of head scratching and pondering I pressed on with the reconstruction.

The starting material was approximately 2mm thick disk of steel with a low carbon content, this was worked from the outside in many passes requiring many hundred hammer blows (I did not count them!). Each step the form can be seen to slowly emerge from the metal almost as if it were soft plastic with the form pushing up from beneath... sadly it is not that simple.

Below are a series of pictures show the progress in raising the boss.

The starting point, a wide disk of plate steel.

The plate is lightly domed cold before heat is used to start raising.

Half way through the first pass.

Finishing in a rough conical shape.

As the next pass begins it looks like a flying saucer.

Compressing the metal all the down to the edge.

You can see four of the most used hammers for this project
to the left.

The dome of the boss becomes clear.

The Boss now deep enough for the next phase.

Now the collar around the dome is formed the excess is to be
trimmed away and the flanged crisped up.

The boss blackened with fire and oil, before it left is was
rubbed back for an antiqued patina.

Showing the interior, no welding here.

The boss once finished was collected and is soon to be assembled with it's decoration and attached to the shield.

No comments:

Post a Comment