Travel Yak London

Dear Marilyn; My recommendations for London sightseeing (Art/
metalsmithing related) would be #1, The British museum- it has
been called “the closest thing on the planet to the complete
history of Civilisation”. The Sutton Hoo treasure (containing 7th
cent. Anglo-Saxon enamel work) and the Lindow Moss (Bog) man are
both there. The magnificent Elgin Marbles (statuary originally
from the Parthenon in the Acropolis at Athens, Greece) and the
famous excavations from Nimrud, Babylon, also grace this
World-Class collection. Some have said that the Brits have
"acquired" the finest collection in the world. #2, the Victoria
and Albert Museum is reckoned to have one of the finest
collections of jewellery housed in one building. #3 would have to
be the National Gallery to see, at the very least(!), the Arnolfini
Wedding Portrait, by Jan van Eyck (one of the “inventors” of Oil
Painting). If you are so inclined,a trip to the jewellery district
of Hatton Wall and Hatton Garden (very near to the British Museum)
can be very rewarding if you happen into one of the suppliers
located there( they have great prices on files, burs, and “collet
punches” (Bezel blocks for those of us in here in the U.S.)). If you
will be in Oxford, I’ve been told the Ashmolean Museum also has an
exceptional jewellery collection. 20 I was thoroughly fascinated
with the Roman ruins at Bath when I visited there, the
juxtaposition of Roman era ruins next to a Medieval Cathedral (Bath
Abbey), next to the Victorian Greek-Revival, building over the
Roman baths, left an indelible image in my mind. Glastonbury Tor
(legendary burial-place of King Arthur), also near Bath, is a
must-see for any new-age/Wiccan/or Marion Zimmer Bradley Fan.
Unfortunately, I have never been to Scotland. (Ah, but there’s
stilltime, you see …!). So, I dare not make nary a comment
about Albion to ye… Best’o’Luck to Ye, Eben Lenz

Eben Lenz: if I’m remembering right, this is not enamel work but
actual hessonite garnet inlay and the lapidary/metalwork are
stupefyingly good! The quality of this particular series of jewelry
pieces bowled me over. I wasn’t expecting anything so refined from
the culture remembered, among other things, for giving us so many
useful four-letter English words…

There are eye-popping examples of jewelry and metalwork throughout
the entire museum, as there are at…

  #2, the Victoria and Albert Museum is reckoned to have one of
the  finest collections of jewellery housed in one building. 

Be sure to allow plenty of time for the V & A. The jewelry alone
will take half a day for a close look. The displays are funky: very
little organization, with a priceless Napoleonic emerald necklace
displayed next to something silly and unrelated. If you love gems,
don’t miss the Hope collection of colored stones. Wow! There is
much, much! dated reference material here for designers.

And when your feet start aching treat yourself to a coffee in the
Gamble Room and take a close look at the walls: they are entirely
hand-made ceramic tiles (as is much of the other museum
decoration), but the Gamble Room is special.

As I was walking down a corridor (I can’t remember which one) a
sculptural piece set with a 2-inch-square Australian black opal
caught my eye. It was displayed with no concern for preserving the
opal, and at a guess I’d say the stone was in the $20,000 U.S.or
more per carat range in the current market. I’m guessing it was
from the early days of mining at Lightning Ridge, Australia
(Victoria helped popularize this wonderful stone).

And don’t forget the Royal Jewels at the Tower. Incredible.


      Unfortunately, I have never been to Scotland. (Ah, but
there's stilltime, you see .....!). So, I dare not make nary a
comment about Albion to ye..... Best'o'Luck to Ye, Eben Lenz

Eben and Marilyn, there’s another kind of “gem” in Scotland. In
Edinburgh, as you begin your walk down the Royal Mile from
Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, you may notice a small
establishment on the right-hand side of the street called “The
Scotch Whisky Store” or some similar name. My crew stocked up on a
tremendous number of mini-bottles of various brands of single-malt.
We taste-tested a few as nightcaps each evening and kept careful
notes for last-minute purchases at the duty-free store at
Heathrow. England and Scotland has many more “gems” to offer as
well, especially the people.

Have a great time!

Rick Martin