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The MA thread - AKA Everyday Fan Vault Construction for Beginners.

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Adam W.

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Thanks.

I'll update it once a week when there's something iteresting, but it's going a bit slow at the moment as I'm still finding my way.
 

Adam W.

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I've spent the last week grovelling on the floor over an 8' x 4' drawing of the vault and have finally got to the stage of being able to make the drawing work.

This is a working out sketch of one of the many pieces of tracery which I need to create out of oak (ignore the scale on the ruler, it should read 1:1).


IMG_4762.JPG


It represents the circle which the whole design is based around and forms part of the larger circle in one of the spandrels.


P1850562.JPG


I've found that when the tangental circles contained in the spandrel are exactly the same diameter as the tangental semi-circles at the tops of the conoids, the whole pattern falls into place and all of the circles and arcs meet precisely.

It has taken me nearly two weeks of making full scale construction drawings and working backwards to correct the errors that form to come to that conclusion.

This leads me to belive that the vault was designed around the two existing gothic windows of the cathedral, as the whole design can be drawn with a compass solely by bisecting sectors and iscribing cirles, once the widths of the windows is known. The only dimensions required are the window width and the rise of the arch.

The width of the chapel is determined by the spandrels, but there is no relationship between them and the conoids other than that the tangental circles of the tracery are the same size.

Next week I'm starting on the tas de charge, which is the block of masonry which forms the part of the conoid where all the ribs meet.

P1850577.JPG


I think I understand the design well enough now to start on the vaulting sections, the three center arches and the details of the mouldings. Once all of that is worked out, I can then construct full scale drawings of the whole design and produce all the layout drawings which I'll make the components from.

Whilst I'm doing that, I'll work out how I'm actually going to make it.
 
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Adam W.

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Blimey !

I should have the fans on one side penciled in tomorrow.

This is the drawing that I'm going to lay all of the pieces out on and it's about 56" x 35". It should be done by the end of next week, then I can start making models and producing a presentation drawing with gilding and polychrome to go on the wall.


Drawing 30 Sept 2021.jpeg
 
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Adam W.

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I've been spending a few days trying to get the layout of the cusping and sub-cusping on the fan right before I draw it in . I've also been looking at the thickness of the ribs and the section showing the fluting of the column below the tas de charge (the start of the fan which is carved as a single piece of masonry).

It's been quite tricky, but I think I might be close now. Although the masons have stretched the cusping on the trefoil, and I'm not sure why. It may have something to do with the transition point between the flat spandrel and the curvature of the fan conoid.

It's going to get a bit more interesting later in the week when I start on the sections and I'll probably get the answer then, so I might get that started before I draw in the thickness of the ribs and fan detail on the main drawing.

IMG_4785.JPG
 

Adam W.

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Sorry if the language is a bit weird, but it's worth learning the names of things when it comes to speaking to Master masons, at least we'll be on the same page and I'll know what they're on about.

Todays business was to try and sort out the proper scale of the three types of masonry details.

The main conoid rib, the cusping and the sub-cusping. The easiest way to do this was to draw the sections full size and reduce them on the photocopier.

I'm using white acrylic paint to adjust any small errors in the ink lines, it seems to work well on the white paper and tidies things up nicely.

This one's the main rib on the conoid. I'm not sure how I'm going to cut the profile and I might try and make a profile shave and see how it goes. If I can cut it, I think it'll look very nice curving around.

IMG_4787.JPG


Luckily the orther two are much simpler profiles. The one on the far right is the cusping and the middle is the sub-cusping.

I think I've got the sub-cusping on the conoid right now, so I started on the section through the width of the vault....Now that is tricky and I need to find out how to draw a tidy form which represents it, with a compass.


IMG_4792.JPG



Everything gets stuck on a drawing, which I can have on the wall for quick reference. I need to start thinking about drawing all the ribs in on the main drawing, as this needs to be finished by the 13th, so it can get hung in the MA exhibition.
 

Adam W.

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That would be a shocker.

It's a cast of the original from the British Museum. I'm going to make a silicone mould of it and cast it in plaster. It should be an interesting diversion to take my mind off tangental circles.
 

Jacob

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That would be a shocker.

It's a cast of the original from the British Museum. I'm going to make a silicone mould of it and cast it in plaster. It should be an interesting diversion to take my mind off tangental circles.
Many years ago when my kids were little I made a rocking horse. The head and neck was just a horse profile in 1/2" ply. I copied it from a book on Roman art/architecture - could have been this one it was not dissimilar!
 

Adam W.

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Elgin borrowed this one from the Parthenon. This is the horse of Selene the moon goddess, daughter of Hyperion and Theia, who rides her charriot across the heavens.

Here's the original........

Selene-horse-head-part-horses-Greek-British.jpg
 

cowtown_eric

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Luv this stuff. You are likely aware that apparently new Iphones have lidar whcih can scan 3d images which could be theoretically translated to code to drive cnc routers or 3-d printers????

Never tried it myself, but worth an investigation

Eric
 

Adam W.

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No, I'm not aware of that.

This project is an exploration of working practices in the 15th. century and I'm currently focusing on designing and making the vault using only two measurements (the width of the bay and the height of the arch).

I'm also working on the ground, although not on a plaster floor like they would have done, to get the feel of what it must have been like to do that. And I can let you know, that it's an awful way to work and my back is killing me. I start on wood next week and I'll make a bit of the tracery, so I'll be upright again, thank the lord!

I'll also try and make the thing entirely by hand, although I may cheat and rip some wood up on a table saw, just to save time. There's a lot of timber to process for the superstructure and I don't have access to my riven timber stash, unless I decamp to DK and make it there. All of the ornamentation and conoids will be done by hand, though.

Although one could debate whether using a lathe is making it by hand or not, but I'm not going to.
 

Adam W.

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So, I've made a big decision today and decided to attempt to make the thing as a proper timber vault at a scale of 1:3. This means that I need to make a nicely jointed timber frame to support the spandrells from and transfer the load to the ribs, through the tas de charge and down the columns.

I've been looking at some detailed drawings of the lantern at Ely Cathedral and it looks like the ribs in the vaulting are structural after all. This means that I can get carpentry, joinery and carving packaged in one project, which was my original goal at the outset.

It should be a fun addition and keep me nice and busy for the full 9 months of the course.
 

Inspector

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Adam if you make it 1:3 is it going to be a functional sized item that can used or is it strictly a model for teaching etc? A top for a four poster bed or a garden room sort of thing. I'm looking forward to following your build.

Pete
 

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