by Gareth Branwyn
Soft lights twinkle, casting mysterious shadows on this macabre fantasy carousel . A group of steeds race forward while a winged sabre-toothed lion leaps from his perch. Other fantastic creatures follow in turn, hefting their imaginary carnival goers up and down and around. Mirrors glisten on the centerpost reflecting the carousel's whimsy and charm and revealing the hand-cut mahogany planking and solid sterling silver figures. The firey dragons stand guard perched atop the entrance posts of this museum-quality tabletop carousel produced by Kensington, MD's Creative Metalworks.
While the great carousels have faded with time and a changing way of life, a group of artists have collaborated to capture the spirit of these old carousels in a miniature working model. This two foot tall carousel features:
* Solid sterling silver characters and embellishments
* Museum quality solid mahogany and rosewood veneer cabinetry
* An iridescent silk canopy detailed with sterling silver
* Handmade bronze crankshaft assemblies and
* Lion's head switches for lighting and movement.
A gremlin, holding a silk banner, sits above this exquisite fantasy creation. The carousel also houses a 36-note Swiss made Reuge movement of "Gavotte en Rondeau" by Louis XIV court composer J-B Lully. The music box is wound by a sterling silver key mounted in the center of its base and turned on and off by the sterling knob.
Michael R. Schwartz, nationally recognized jeweler and owner of Creative Metalworks, is the producer/manufacturer, metalsmith and driving force behind the carousel's production. His metal arts studio has been equipped with everything needed for the creation of these carousels. The facilities include a complete machine shop and smithing studio, foundry, design studio and showroom/gallery. Some of the shop's equipment, such as an extraordinarily large centrifugal casting machine was actually designed for this carousel edition.
The ten carousel figures (sabre-toothed lion, mermaid, dragon, pegasus, seahorse, capricorn, unicorn and chariot horses) were originally sculpted by nationally known artist Star Liana York. Ms. York has worked in bronze and silver for thirty years, focusing on fantasy motifs and, more recently, monumental bronzes. The carousel characters are lost-wax-cast in sterling silver and meticulously finished.
Over ten pounds of silver is used to produce each carousel of the sterling silver edition. The wooden structure for the carousel is created by cabinetmaker Steven Shafer and consists of individually cut and beveled mahogany floor boards and a base cabinet made of solid mahogany and rosewood veneer. The silk canopy and banner are created by textile artist Lynda Edquist. The mechanical details of realistic movement were engineered with the assistance of John L. Dittman. Dittman provided drawings and consulted on the fabrication of the gear and crankshaft assemblies. Over one hundred cast and fabricated components have been designed for this carousel edition.
These artists have gone to great lengths to create a piece that not only looks beautiful and moves in a realistic fashion, but is made of the highest-quality, everlasting materials. The wooden base is sturdily crafted with great attention to detail. All of the carousel's parts are designed for years of use and easy maintenance. Each character is mounted on a twisted rod with a cast bronze bottom and top hook. The characters are removable for cleaning and more close inspection. The carousel deck assembly is removable from the base to reveal the music box and the Bodine® drive motor inside. Overhead lighting is provided by twelve volt easily replaceable, bayonet mounted bulbs. Electrical power is transferred from the hexagonal base to the revolving carousel by ingeniously designed bronze roller brushes that roll along copper contact plates. Each carousel is numbered and accurate records are kept of its unique characteristics. Each carousel comes from Creative Metalworks with a two year warranty.
No doubt these exquisite carousels will one day take their place in the world's finest museums. Schwartz has, by special order, created one carousel entirely plated with 24 karat gold, another with 24 karat gold saddles, horns and hoofs. Two carousels of the bronze edition were meticulously hand painted, while custom silk canopies have been created for others to match their display environment.
For more information and brochure, contact Michael R. Schwartz at Creative Metalworks: 10501 Wheatley Street Kensington, MD 20895 USA. 301-933-1500 Fax:301-933-9070
This article was excerpted from "The Carousel News and Trader" April, 1990
"Although this is the busiest time of the year for me, I admired your Carousel Music Box so much, all other matters have been put aside .... your beautiful creation" - Frederick Fried