Plain bought chess box and pyrographed
Wooden plate – pyrographed
This looks rather like a work in progress or an experimental piece. It doesn’t seem to be quite finished. The design is quite complex for such a small carving and must have been difficult to produce. It’s fascinating working out how two apparent circles have been linked to make the oval shape.
It’s a shame that we don’t know who created the plaque, or when. Perhaps it was one of Bain’s school pupils, or a member of his family.
This intriguing piece came with a collection of other small items in a finely decorated box. All were donated by the family of George Bain. It is a small wooden block, onto which has been screwed an engraved metal plate.
The cut corner, jagged lower edge and damaged decorative swirl suggest to me that it was once larger. Perhaps it was originally part of a printing block for one of Bain’s commercially produced Celtic greetings cards.
This piece is hand-pyrographed on a wood slice in the dotwork (pointillism) style and is taken directly from the central circular panel of the Sutton Hoo buckle form the early 7th century. It depicts two intertwined serpents biting the others’ tail.
Handcarved in Noble Fir. The eagle is the symbol of St Mark.
From the Book of Kells, hand-carved in wood. George Bain illustrates this in his book Celtic Art, Methods of Construction on page 104. He notes that the early medieval scribe drew the original with a maximum dimension of only 3.7cm.
This is at the centre of the X on the Chi Rho page in the Book of Kells. Handcarved in wood.
George Bain enlarged the details, showing them in Plate 12 on page 114 in his Celtic Art: Methods of Construction.
Handmade woodcarving inspired by the amazingly intricate roundel decorating the first word of St Luke’s Gospel in the Book of Kells. It is my favourite image to carve.
Quaich, turned and carved from spalted beech with a Celtic knotwork band (not visible in this image). The lugs are based on the Edinburgh “Luckenbooth” brooch design, which is interlaced.
It’s only when you look closely at the engraved designs that their forms come to life. The tan-painted lino border is decorated with 16 single strands of interlace. Twelve of them are copies of each other. But the flow of each corner strand is different – they’re so accomplished. The pattern is brought to life by painting it yellow. This is emphasised by the original colour of the lino, which defines the edges of the strands.
The central, dark brown, knotwork panel is not a design that appears in Bain’s Methods of Construction. Its complexity reflects Bain’s mastery of Pictish knotwork and his wish to create new forms.
These three closely connected sections of wood each have different knotwork designs engraved into them. They give the appearance of being more complex as the eye moves down. The textured effect is created by punching dots into the spaces between the strands.
The panel was displayed by Claire Bain, George’s daughter, in her home. But it isn’t known who created it. Intriguingly, the knotwork designs have not been taken directly from Celtic Art, Methods of Construction. Adaptations have been made, but the engraving isn’t as perfect as any of Bain’s drawings.