A view of the painted dial and automata

Pyke Organ Clock Project: Treating the Dial and Automata

By Jonathon Kelly This is next instalment in a series of posts on the conservation work and historical research on the George Pyke Organ Clock at West Dean College in 2014. The Pyke Clock is now working again and back on permanent display at Temple Newsam House in Leeds, England. This post is the second of … Continue reading

Figure 6: Small suture before it was pasted down on the verso of the manuscript.

Jane Austen Fragment Part 3—Binding, Mount and Box

By Jen Anderson, Snow Fain, and Tiffany Eng After cleaning and removing the handwritten fragment from the Jane Austen manuscript, there were several more things that remained to do, before returning the book to the Jane Austen’s House Museum. Each of the following sections describes a part of the project that was completed by several … Continue reading

Figure 3: The lid before dismantling and removal of previous restoration adhesive.

Treatment on a Chinese Export Porcelain Blue and White ‘Soldier’ Vase and Lid—Kangxi Period (1662-1722)

By Harriet Sylvester One of the projects I have been working on within the Ceramics Department at West Dean College during my Graduate Diploma year is a large Chinese export porcelain blue and white ‘soldier’ vase and lid from the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) from the factories possibly at Jingdezhen in China (Figures 1-3). This blog … Continue reading

Abby demonstrating on an 18th century English signal book with what looked like stable, but dark ink.

Making & Testing Iron Gall Ink

By Sakura Tohma Recently we tried making iron gall inks!! Iron gall ink is produced by the reaction of tannic acid extracted from galls, a type of growth on trees (especially oak), with ferrous sulphate (FeSO4). This ink has been the most common type in the Western world from the 9th century until the 20th … Continue reading

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


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