The pinion (star gear) with the pivot missing.

A Precision Operation

By Mostyn Gale One of my practical work assignments of late is to do what we call a verge re-conversion on a bracket clock from about the mid 1700s, made by James Snelling.  These old clocks, before the anchor-recoil escapement was invented, used what we call a verge escapement.  Later, after the pendulum was invented, many clock … Continue reading

Another set of sewing models, and smaller textblocks for endband models

Yesterday in Books

While the postgraduate students are away on work placements all over the US and UK, the graduate book students have been busy with conservation and bookbinding models. I took some pictures while they were all at tea—surprise!—here are some vignettes from the frosty morning:            


Three Lions

By Rupert James A short exercise in the cleaning and waxing, and minor repairs of an exquisite set of late Victorian/Edwardian fire irons and their stand. This shared project between fellow metals conservation student Daniel Ravizza and me came about after admiring the set of fire irons which reside next to the large fire place … Continue reading

blog pic 8

A Key for a Strong Box

By Peter Jenkins One of the items I’ve been working on this term is a metal strong box. The box in question can be seen below before treatment, and one can see that it has been forced open and broken into. Although this caused issues in conserving the box, it made making the key for … Continue reading

Fig 3. Front layer mounts. At the fore, gilt brass mounts depicting a classical scene and the clock dial centrally positioned.

Pyke Organ Clock Project: An Eighteenth Century Moving Picture

By Jonathon Kelly. This post continues a series on the conservation-repair work and the historical research on the George Pyke organ clock at West Dean College in 2014. This is the first of two posts on the automata dial. The Pyke organ clock has a multi-layered painted iron dial which shows a view of life … Continue reading


Hand forging a new hacksaw frame

By Daniel Ravizza Having only a 50 lb weight limit on my suitcase, it was a major dilemma for me to decide what to bring on my flight from the USA to West Dean. Should I bring clothes or tools? It’s a difficult choice to make. In the end I decided it would be best … Continue reading

Everything in place except the bolt…

A Squid Born of Fire

By Victoria Bullard-Smith When someone who is almost completely new to metalworking merrily suggests to their tutor that, in response to the mandate “make a padlock”, they want to make a domed, tentacled, squid-shaped padlock, the appropriate response might be a quick snort of laughter and the suggestion of something far simpler. That did not … Continue reading


When conservation meets making

By Franek de Sage Editor’s note: Franek graduated last year, but wrote us this post on a project he did while he was a graduate diploma student.   This project is an example of a preventive conservation. It didn’t involve work on the actual tea caddy, but only making a box for it, in which the original piece … Continue reading

Rory McEvoy talks about the Royal Astronomers’ lantern clock.

The Place Where Time Begins 

By Mostyn Gale Does time really have a beginning? This past week the Clocks students from West Dean College went to the Royal Observatory Greenwich. In 1884 at the International Meridian Conference in Washington DC, 22 countries voted to adopt Greenwich observatory as zero degrees longitude—a loose interpretation of the place where time begins. The … Continue reading

PCIP Photographs July 2014 (50)

West Dean College becomes the new training partner for the British Library

West Dean College has signed an exciting agreement to collaborate on a programme of training with the British Library, delivering a portfolio of short courses into aspects of preservation and collection care for libraries. The programme focuses on Continued Professional Development and is aimed at professionals, conservation students and others interested in furthering their skills. … Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 327 other followers