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.

4 Responses to a replica mazer

  1. TREEWRIGHT March 1, 2008 at 7:53 pm #

    A real Beauty . .How’s the wood and silver “stuck” together Rob

  2. miss rika March 2, 2008 at 5:52 pm #

    These pictures are awesome! I’m with Treewright; I’d like to know how they fit together. Does the exemplar in the last picture have an engraved word on it? Can’t make it out very well.

  3. Robin Wood March 2, 2008 at 8:28 pm #

    Hi Folks, thanks for the comments. I use modern epoxy to glue the silver to the wood, the originals would have used some sort of animal based glue I imagine. It takes a lot of work and a long time to dry the wood enough so that it does not move away from the silver. Then it is soaked thoroughly with hot linseed oil.Many of the originals have inscriptions, like the one pictured here, generally religious. They were often given to monastic houses in exchange for the monks praying for the donor. there is a chapter on mazers with lots of photos in my book “the wooden bowl” but the best source is a paper by St John Hope published in Achaeologia vol 50 in 1887.

  4. Jenn March 3, 2008 at 12:03 pm #

    Robin,It’s absolutely stunning. I was digging through some wills and inventories and came across a mention of a named mazer which a mother left to her daughter. My husband has one of your earlier mazers that he named “Leopard” due to a natural coloration on the inside that looks like a spotted cat. As always, your work is beautiful. Jenn