Cutting out Elliptical Plaques

Cutting out Elliptical Plaques

I got a commission to do some paintings onto an elliptical enamel plaque. The major and minor axis of the ellipse are to be 150mm by 90mm, respectively. The paintings are to be of a house in each of the seasons, so four paintings in all, and each one is to be inset into the seat of handmade bar stool.

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Making a dial (part 1), making a forming die

Making a dial (part 1), making a forming die

I've got the beginnings of a watch case but, as of yet, no dial that I'm prepared to drill a hole in. I'm not going to put a hole into the cloisonné enamel frog!

My starting point is to create domed dials, this is because enamel miniatures typically require several firings and a domed dial will minimize warping. From fitting into the watch point of view, a flat dial would be easier but in the long term a domed dial will far superior for enamelling applications.

Warping is less of a problem for cloisonne (although still an issue) since the wires and counter-enamelling give the piece a greater thickness and structure that help to control warpage. However, I found a domed surface gives more interesting light reflections, it's more difficult to bend the wires over a domed surface but I got plenty of practice when I made these set of enamel doorknobs.


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Making a watch case (part 17), making a movement holder

Making a watch case (part 17), making a movement holder

The watch movement is considerably smaller than the watch case I've made, so it will need some sort of holder to secure it in place. I'm making this ring from solid brass, so a bit different to the other method of making the ring from a bar, soldering and hammering into a ring.

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Making a watch case (part 18), putting on the strap

Making a watch case (part 18), putting on the strap

I've been a bit worried about how to put on the strap for some time. I don't want to drill a hole all the way through the lugs and it seems impossible to get a drill access to put in a blind hole on the inside of each lug.

But, as with nearly all of this project, I don't want to think about it too much! I'll just do what I can and, by experimenting and making mistakes, the solution should present itself. It's rather like thinking with my hands.

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Making a watch case (part 17), tapping some holes

Making a watch case (part 17), tapping some holes

The base fits snugly into the middle watch section but it's going to need some screws to make sure it stays fixed. I'm using the middle watch section to position the mill table, using the previous holes as guides and a wiggler to centre the spindle.

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