Monthly Archives: September 2011

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Elizabeth Taylor – Jewellery and Ornament

You may have noticed some of the press recently making the rounds for the sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels (among other parts of her collection). Looking at the lots on offer one wonders how such a petite woman ever managed tomove around so enormous are the carat weights of some of the stones. One of my favourite galleries at the V&A is the William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery. If you ever have a case of Holly Golightly’s mean reds, the spiral display of rings here will cheer you up in no time. It’s all too easy to hold up …

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From the Captain of a Dutch Corsair to a Victorian Art Referee

Plaster cast of the Bruges Madonna by Michelangelo

When I have a spare moment, I try and go to our Blythe road premises, to do some research on the Cast Courts in the V&A Archives. Ahead of my visits, my colleagues James Sutton and Nicholas Smith have helpfully been digging information about the building of the Cast Courts, the acquisition of the objects, […]

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What is ornament, what is an ornament print and why do they matter?

Ornament is decoration or embellishment. It is any additional detail added to an object, interior or architectural structure which serves no other purpose than to make it more interesting, arresting or beautiful to us. Take this Sèvres soup plate for instance. The richly painted and gilded decoration adds absolutely nothing to the function of the plate, but the effect is certainly more interesting than a plain white plate. Catherine the Great evidently thought so too, as she had the service to which this plate belongs re-designed eight times before she felt it was quite right. An ornament print is a …

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Sculpture conservation shines a light on the plaster casts

We, the Sculpture studio in Conservation department, are really happy to contribute to the project blog and welcome this initiative taken by Melanie, the assistant curator to the project. For us in the studio the blog is an experiment and offers, we hope, some possibilities for elements of our work on the project to be […]

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Designing Postmodernism, Part 8: Coup de Grace

Postmodernism opens in one short week and we’ve now finalized the exhibition, ready for press previews. I thought I’d write one last post on the exhibition-making process, focusing on the installation of the objects themselves. This may seem like the most straightforward aspect of the project – just set the chairs on plinths, hang the […]

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PF @ London Design Festival

From 19-25 September, we're opening our studio doors to everybody during London Design Festival. We're keeping it informal; come by check out what we're working on, have a coffee, chillax a bit. There are all kinds of fun stuff going on in our studio right now. Here are a few of them: Make For London We've just launched a new project called Make For London, in conjunction with the Power of Making show here at the V&A. We're working with Londoners to take their brilliant product ideas and build them up into marketable products and rough business plans.
Submit your idea …

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The sleeve on the armour was in the worst condition (in terms of the textiles) of all the pieces that made up the armour, and required the most intricate treatment. The silk damask was very brittle and had begun to split. In some areas the fibres had been lost altogether and the metal thread was also very brittle. The conservation challenge was to stabilise these areas but with limited access to the inside of the sleeve, all of the support fabric would have to be inserted through the split. This is where having a steady hand comes in very useful! …

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Strange encounter: a dragon’s egg nestled in the Museum’s attic

In all museums, no matter how big or small, there’s always a time when you make a ‘discovery’ as you stumble upon a piece tucked away in a corner by long-gone curators. Store auditings – a slow, painstaking process, but not without surprises – are propitious times for such encounters to happen. As part of […]

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The making of…

After an intense week of fabric cutting, transformer wiring and mylar clipping. The two lamps are now waiting in the process of being photographed. Meanwhile, here is a sneak preview of the processes, which have gone into the making of the auction lamp. Laser cut wooden test pieces. The laser cutter is big, but not big enough for the lamp, so two halves were made, and joint together with some wood pieces and some seriously strong wood glue. We decided to reduce the size of the frame to make it more efficient, in terms of in house production. To challenge …

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Yorkshire Coast

I have mentioned previously about childhood coastal summers in Yorkshire. A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I walked a more northerly stretch from the magnificent pier at Saltburn by the Sea just east of Middlesbrough through the old fishing settlements of Staithes, Runswick Bay, Sandsend and Whitby to Robins Hood’s Bay in the south.

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