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Yule Project - Salt Cellars

I never had a chance to talk about Yule - during the ramp up I was running like a crazy person to get things done, after Yule I was trying to get ready for Christmas in not nearly enough time, after Christmas I was FRANTICALLY cleaning my house for New Year's eve, and well, I got a loom on New Year's eve and I've been a little fixated.

But I made a bunch of cool stuff for Yule.

Last fall vynehorn and I went down to NYC to the Frick Gallery.  She'd been wanting to go, and I read an article about the proposed renovations, and really wanted to see it *before* they graft a modern addition on.  While we were there, we saw a display of late period enamel wares, including some amazing salt cellars.  They were just astonishing.  After looking at them for a bit, she said "Hey - we could make something like these for the Yule gift for Bergental!"  (And by "we," she meant "you."  Just for clarification.  It was a fabulous idea.

The salt cellars in the museum were shaped very like pillar candle holders, and we (truly "we" in this case) figured that if we could find some that were the right shape made of unfinished wood, we (that is to say "I") could drill out a bowl in the top, and then paint them appropriately.  That first step - find some that were the right shape - turned out to be enormously difficult, but eventually Sue found two that would work.  Not really the same shape, but workable.  She got them to me, and I promptly ignored the project for a few months.  It's what I do.

When time pressure started closing in, it came back to the front of my mind.  After some cursory research online, Bob went out and got me a set of inexpensive forstner drill bits, and I experimented on some scrap 2x4 we had kicking around.  I drilled out a series of graduated holes that formed a terraced bowl.  Then I smoothed out the terraces with a dremel.  It worked pretty well, so I turned my attention to doing the same thing on the candlesticks.

The scrap was pine.  The candlesticks were clearly hardwood.

There was a knot dead center of my drill area on both of them.

I should have used the drill press, because on hardwood, the bits walked on me and the bowls ended up a bit lopsided.  Once painted you couldn't tell, but I should have used the drill press.  Once drilled out, they got a couple of coats of acrylic gesso.  Because gesso hides a multitude of evils.

IMG_1945[1]

After gesso, they got four or five coats of black.  I loathe working with acrylics - I just don't understand the technique.

IMG_1946[1]

Now, I meant to studiously photo document all the stages, but once I started painting it all picked up speed, and well... I didn't.  So instead, here is the finished product:

IMG_1980[1]
IMG_1976
IMG_1978

They're nowhere near as detailed as the exemplars, but given my lack of skill with acrylics, all I could do was make it worse.  So I decided that level of decoration was good enough, slapped a coat of spar varnish on, and called it a day.  Bergental seemed pleased.  *I* was pleased, so I'll call that good enough.

Last year jofglastingburi made the most amazing heraldic table drapes for them.  This year I made them heraldic salt cellars.  I have ideas for next year already.  By the time Bob and I step down, Bergental is going to have a kick-ass table setting.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
golden_meliades
Jan. 7th, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
I've come across mention of salt cellars several times in the past month, and still imagined they were the same thing as a pepper mill (except for salt, of course.) So they're actually like a salt...vase, perhaps. An elevated little bowl to hold salt to...pinch it out of? Huh. Gotta go look it up, now.
kls_eloise
Jan. 7th, 2015 08:21 pm (UTC)
That's basically correct. Generically they're some sort of basin that the salt sits in - ranging from very plain to all sorts of fancy. Depending on how fancy the salt cellar and how fancy the dinner, you would either pinch it out or use a small spoon.

Salt shakers came into use fairly recently, when the salt industry came up with appropriate anti-clumping agents to add to the salt so that it would flow freely. Before that, because salt is so hygroscopic, it had to be served in a fashion that would allow you to break up the clumps that formed because of humidity.

I'm just a font of useless information...
golden_meliades
Jan. 7th, 2015 08:31 pm (UTC)
In humid summers, we sometimes have to add rice to our salt shakers, to keep the salt from getting all clumpy and unshakable. :)

Would the salt not get everyone's germ on it, if everyone is sticking their fingers right into it? Or does the nature of sodium prevent that? I guess using a tiny spoon would work.
kls_eloise
Jan. 8th, 2015 02:24 am (UTC)
Well, salt is something of an antibacterial. That said, that was more the custom before modern germ theory was formulated. These days we'd rather not all have our fingers in the same food.
jdulac
Jan. 8th, 2015 03:52 am (UTC)
I have a thing for salt cellars, very nice!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )