Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tablet carving for Sir Thomas Browne and the Digestion of an Ostrich

I would not normally show any of the processes of making work, but in this case it is reasonable to do so, as people are being expected to eat the works.


These small sculptures representing ostrich eggs on nests are made from Rennie tablets (the nest) and iron tablets (the egg).  The images show the processes of the carved iron tablets, stuck to the carved Rennie tablets (using icing sugar), being painted with edible paint (Squires Kitchen Food Colours) with a light yellow tint (Silver Spoon food colouring); four coats have been applied to cover the black of the tablets.  A yellow tint has been added to half the nests.

  


I have tested the tablets, and I seem to be still functioning.

5 comments:

Peter Doyle said...

Julian - have you a picture of the actual egg on an actual nest? And did Sir Thomas eat his eggs rare or boiled? And in any case, would three minutes have been sufficient? There are many questions to be answered? I guess one of the most important might be whether your tablets might have aided in Sir Thomas's antiquarian digestion.

Julian Walker said...

Apparently it takes about an hour and a half to boil an ostrich egg. But then everything took a lot longer to do in the olden days; so if cooking in the seventeenth century - first procure your ostrich egg (i.e. wait for next ambassadorial visit - every twenty years or so), be in favour with the monarch (means following the appropriate religion), hope ostrich is in egg-laying mode, bribe royal servants in order to acquire egg, place egg in silver pan of dodgy water over a slow fire heavily impeded by draughts, boil for a week and a half, realise you don't have the right tools to open it with, withdraw gracefully and write memoirs…

HYDRIOTAPHIA said...

It was in all probability Browne's eldest son Edward who acquired for his father an ostrich. King Charles II received as a gift six ostriches for the amusement of his Royal Court. As King Charles had previously met the Browne's at Norwich when knighting Dr.Browne, such a request may well have met with favour. Browne was a keen ornithologist and coined the word 'incubation' into the English language. He was also a bit of an epicure but its not known whether his ostrich laid any eggs. See my blog under the entry 'Ostrich' for more info.

Julian Walker said...

Thanks for this Hydriotaphia. I've just presented a talk on some of STB's engagement with ostriches, and researching in Sir John Reresby's Memoirs I found that the ambassador of the Sultan of Fez & Morocco brought 2 lions and 30 ostriches when he arrived in January 1682. Browne reckoned that 3 or 4 would be put in St James Park. Clearly his son Edward got hold of one, but it was dead by early February. But in 'Notes & Experments' Browne states 'When it first came into my garden it soone ate up all the gillyflowers'. Evelyn noted Browne as an ornithologist, so indeed he would have been an appropriate person to receive an ostrich if they were being handed out - though as Claire Presto says, it would be interesting to know how it was transported to Norwich.
Will indeed check out your blog.
Ostriches in the UK now lay between April and September, I am told by my ostrich egg supplier.

Julian Walker said...

Should read: Claire Preston