Saturday, 1 March 2008
a replica mazer
I thought it would be nice to post this replica of a medieval mazer here. I actually finished it a little while ago but it has been away at an exhibition and just came back, I think it is one of the best pieces I have made.
I first became aware of mazers many years ago when I saw some in a case at the British Museum. At that time I looked at them only briefly, I was passionate about the sort of humble wooden bowls used in everyday life and didn't really relate to these grand bowls. When I was writing my book on the history of the wooden bowl I knew I would have to cover mazers and returned to the British Museum and various others to study and photograph as many original mazers as I could. I was surprised to find that I now loved them. They are still very grand but not in the ostentatious way that 18th century craftsmanship can be, they still have a delightful freedom of workmanship common in medieval art.
Here is an original one pictured in my book "the wooden bowl", this one is engraved and the silver has a thin coating of gold.
Mazers are still the most highly prized turned wooden objects ever produced. Probably less than a hundred survive from the medieval period and the last one that sold (a late one dated 1547) reached £205,000. Making replicas has been an interesting journey, I work with a Sheffield silversmith Owen Waterhouse and copy the original techniques as far as possible. The mazer at the top of the post is made from a particularly special piece of burr rowan which grew close to my workshop.