Medal Brief

After being given the brief for the medal project, I decided to look at the possibility of making a commemorative medal and I looked at anniversaries of key dates that were imminent. After much consideration I decided on the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta, which is due to be celebrated in June. It was only after my research that I realised that this document was used as a basis for the American Constitution and is still regarded as a symbol of liberty today.

I found the research interesting but struggled for inspiration regarding the design. My ideas appeared stiff and restrictive, which I think is partly due to the fact I was previously a civil servant. Working for the Passport Office and the Office of National Statistics, my working practice was methodical and ritualistic, with no opportunity to be creative and I think these have been hard habits to break. I likened my work to the tins you may have in the kitchen with ‘TEA’, ‘COFFEE’ and ‘SUGAR’ written on them, you know exactly what is inside.

This realisation about my work came roughly at the same time I started my Field module, which was Synergies: Materials & Technology. The timing couldn’t have been better as it was a more experimental module and even the topics I had previously covered, were a welcome opportunity to revisit.

After seeing laser cut wooden snowflakes at Christmas time and thinking that they were very beautiful, I decided to produce my medal in wood which I enjoy working with. I worked on a design that incorporated beautifully decorated padlocks. Inspired by the fact that not everything is as it seems on face value. We see attractive house exteriors, but have no idea that they may hold ugly secrets within; such as modern day slavery. We might buy a beautiful dress on the High Street but are unaware of the poor working conditions in which it was produced. I decided to laser cut the padlock design in wood, which would fulfil the digital element of the brief.

I decided to use lime wood for the main part of the medal, as I have used this soft wood before and it is beautiful to work with. I only had a rough idea of what I wanted the outcome to be, as I like to let the wood ‘speak’ to me. I find lathing self-absorbing and I just lose myself in the process.
I shaved and shaped the shoulders into a small rounded bowl, stopping and checking from time to time, to ensure that the ‘bowl’ fitted into my hand. It is probably larger than most medals being produced for this project, but I would struggle to include the same details in a smaller medal.

I wanted a key on the reverse side of the medal and this gave me some design issues on how I would achieve this. However after various permutations I decided to use found keys and set them in a clear resin, in a recess on the reverse of the medal. My thoughts behind this was that the Magna Carta, has been the basis for many constitutions and civil rights documents and it has highlighted many issues. However it has not solved those issues totally, so in the analogy of padlocks representing oppression and the keys can unlock the padlock/oppression and set the people free. Through the Magna Carta we have discovered the keys that we need, but they are still unobtainable (in the resin), which highlights there is still more to be done to resolve all areas of oppression.

Medal 1 – Eleutheria

My first medal was inspired by the signing of the Magna Carta, which celebrates its 800th Anniversary in June.
The Magna Carta is the basis of many documents that support civil liberties including the American constitution. It was this that made me decide to call my medal ‘Eleutheria’ which is the Greek name for liberty and freedom, which seemed really apt, although there is no specific link to Greece.

I produced a plaster prototype to get a visual impression on how the medal might look, before producing the medal in wood.

I have created a lock design that will be laser etched in wood for the one side of the medal.
On the reverse I have lathed a recess to house a number of found keys that will be set in resin, thus making the keys visible but not obtainable.

I really enjoyed lathing the medal in lime wood as it is soft and easy to shape. It had been a while since I had used the lathe but I soon remembered the technique and felt comfortable in the process. I had no real issues and was happy with the result.