Bronze feather (or pulling yourself out of a tight spot)

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Martin Pansch
Posts: 311
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Bronze feather (or pulling yourself out of a tight spot)

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:41 pm

So there I was, in a tight spot. Mike was retiring from his Treasurer gig after 27. I had told the Board and Officers that I would take care of an award for him. As usual I wait until last minute. I ordered the wooden and writing part of a plaque from Crown Trophy. I had ordered a small brass abacus from eBay and asked Gretta at Crown to leave enough space at the side for a 6" x 2" abacus. I picked the plaque up the Thursday before the Guild party. When I got home I discovered there was a miscommunication and they had left enough space for something 6" wide versus just 2". There was just too much dead space around the abacus to look good. My brain spun trying to figure out what to do. Some sort of metal "matting" to frame the abacus and take up space? I tried a few pieces of paper of different sizes and didn't get anything I liked. I turned the abacus at an angle and thought it looked better but I really needed something across it balance it out, but what?
Plaque with abacus resized 13DEC2014.jpg
Plaque with abacus resized 13DEC2014.jpg (278.19 KiB) Viewed 4946 times
Concentrating on what makes Mike 27 years special, and what lead to the abacus idea in the first place I determined it had to be a feather quill. A quick search confirmed that nothing matching what I needed existed in the area and I would have to make something. A little Google Image searching gave me some feature ideas but nothing I could shamelessly copy so I had to draw something. Took me three tries to get something I both liked and was the right scale.
Plaque with abacus and feather pattern resized 13DEC2014.jpg
Plaque with abacus and feather pattern resized 13DEC2014.jpg (289.88 KiB) Viewed 4946 times
The tough part done I just had to translate the paper drawing into bronze. I took it out to the shop, traced it out on some silicon bronze sheet I had (pausing several times to thaw the Sharpie).
Feather pattern and bronze cut resized 13DEC2014.jpg
Feather pattern and bronze cut resized 13DEC2014.jpg (352.26 KiB) Viewed 4946 times
I quickly cut it out with the Beverly sheer using a hand sheer and a small chisel to clean out some of the hard to reach corners. I taped the pattern to the bronze and used a small center punch to mark out the border of the quill and other features. I gave the bronze a quick anneal and got to work. Well, I got to work after heating my pitch from 40 degree shop room temp to something resembling pliable. Once the bronze was seated in the pitch face down I pushed the quill out using several different sized repousse tools to accommodate the tapering width. After pushing it out from the back I popped the feather off the pitch, re-annealed it, and put it back in the pitch face up. I smoothed out any bumps in the raised quill with my repousse flatter tool.
Feather pattern and quill raised resized 13DEC2014.jpg
Feather pattern and quill raised resized 13DEC2014.jpg (279.92 KiB) Viewed 4946 times
After getting the bumps knocked out, more or less, I was ready to start working on the vanes. I started trying to keep the lines all straight, parallel, and equidistant from each other but it didn't look right. Maybe it would have in the end if I kept it up but I didn't have the time to take the chance. I started making them a little more random. A couple times the feather came loose from the pitch and I took the opportunity to re-anneal, straighten it, and reset in the pitch. At the widest part of the vane I needed three hits with my widest repousse tool to make a line from quill to edge. If I do it again I might try making a special tool like a file makers chisel but with a repousse friendly edge. Might be quicker though it might just mess it up faster too. After lining both sides of the quill I cut out the two little parts in the vanes. I started trying this with a jeweler's saw but I couldn't keep the cut straight enough, it wanted to follow a line I had hammered in. Instead I broke out my thin chisel used for undercutting wire inlay grooves. A little tapping on it with a tiny hammer and I cut out two little wedges of bronze. I cleaned the cut up with a little 220 grit sandpaper. Then using a small hammer and the anvil I rolled the non-vaned part of the quill into a tube. I ground/filed the end into a writing tip and used the jeweler's saw to cut the little slit for holding ink. On further reflection that cut was a little narrow but I didn't have any 32 tpi hacksaw bladed and was really worried about messing it up at this point. I hit it with some 220 grit sandpaper to brighten the high points.
Feather pattern and bronze finished resized 13DEC2014.jpg
Feather pattern and bronze finished resized 13DEC2014.jpg (295.12 KiB) Viewed 4946 times
After this all that was left was to solder 2 little 1/8" thick brazing rod pins to the back so I could mount it on to the plaque. I just drilled holes at the appropriate locations and lightly tapped the rods into place. Both the abacus and feather are held in with friction fit pins, no glue. (Picture on next post. 5 Image limit don'tchaknow).

Martin Pansch
Posts: 311
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Re: Bronze feather (or pulling yourself out of a tight spot)

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:44 pm

It turned out okay all things considered. Better than the abacus alone I think. I would have liked more time to mess with it but Mike seemed to like it and that is the important thing.
Plaque with abacus and feather resized 13DEC2014.jpg
Plaque with abacus and feather resized 13DEC2014.jpg (287.45 KiB) Viewed 4945 times
Thanks for everything Mike!

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bbrown
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:37 pm
Location: Inver Grove Heights,MN

Re: Bronze feather (or pulling yourself out of a tight spot)

Unread post by bbrown » Sun Dec 21, 2014 6:31 am

Great back story on the award!
Wonderful work on the feather!

Bob

Jim Moenck
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:23 pm

Re: Bronze feather (or pulling yourself out of a tight spot)

Unread post by Jim Moenck » Sun Dec 21, 2014 10:31 am

Beautiful job there Martin. I'm sure Mike will treasure it. That is a really nice feather.

Martin Pansch
Posts: 311
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Re: Bronze feather (or pulling yourself out of a tight spot)

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Thu Dec 25, 2014 2:47 pm

Mike will "treasure" it huh Jim? Oh, I see what you did there.

Thanks for the kind words guys.

Naomi
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:04 pm

Re: Bronze feather (or pulling yourself out of a tight spot)

Unread post by Naomi » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:02 am

That turned out great! What a happy accident for the miscommunication about the size needed. I also appreciated reading the story and seeing the process pictures.

Naomi

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