Observations On A Craftsman (Part Two)

by | May 4, 2015 | 14 comments

We have more space here than we need at the moment, but only if you don’t mind sharing it with nature. Good, sealed working space on the other hand is tight and so we have to be well organised and only keep to hand what is essential.

Richard and I were rummaging through one of the barns last week on the hunt for some particular kind of fixing. There are tables which have been left topped with old jam jars, damp cardboard boxes and little tins like they don’t seem to make anymore. We’ve yet to get around to clearing any of it and the place remains a treasure trove of old hardware. Stored within are old bolts, hinges, cut nails, and every size of brass tack that you could hope for. Whilst pouring through I noticed Richard abruptly tip all of the contents from one of the trays in to a larger one. He then lifted the tray and sat it square on his head, cobwebs and all.
On second look It wasn’t a tray at all but an old Brodie helmet. He examined it closely with his hands, returned it to his head and there it stayed. Eventually saying “look what I’ve found!”

Through that day I could see the cogs ticking as he was creating all the possible stories that such an object could have had. Did somebody from this place go to war and come back, or did the hat come back alone?

When it was finally removed the helmet got given pride of place in the workshop. Clutter is banned from in here, space is precious. But I know that hat won’t be moving any time soon.

Objects that we take value in don’t always have to be valuable. More often it’s something other than this or even beauty that we hold precious. A story, a connection, the way the material has altered with passing time, people or places. Objects that we hold valuable are rarely bought; they’re what we end up with or acquire.

Observations On A Craftsman (Part One).


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  1. Lee Hockman

    Could this helmet have possibly been used by one of the Home Guard in WWI or WWII? We called it Civil Defense volunteers over here, but I think over there its called Home Guard, or something like that. Either way, its a beautiful piece and well deserves to be on display. I was given a cloth pilot’s cap and leather flying cap from WWII from a friend who was a pilot trainer in the Navy. He also gave my a set of pilot training manuals and navigational pieces. They make a very nice display.
    I really enjoy following your blog; please keep up the good work.
    Lee Hockman

  2. Chris Buckingham

    A very interesting find, I often wonder when searching through outbuildings, and coming across obviously purpose made pieces, just what purpose that were made to serve, my thoughts are, if only we could talk to the people that made these items , it would make their purpose clear, a lot of jigs and fixtures that I make are very obscure looking and appear to serve no obvious purpose, but no one puts effort into making these things without a reason, all very fascinating for people of a thoughtful and enquiry mind, to others it is just junk!

    • Helen

      Very true Chris, it’s always the finds that are completely confusing that are the most interesting!

  3. Mike S (UK)

    That hat should be worn between now and May 7th – will assist the wearer from being covered in all the BS emanating from our Politicians!

    • Helen

      Ha… a shame we didn’t find a couple!

    • Micheal Kingsley

      In America, it’s all the time, since our politicians are ALWAYS campaigning… Sad, but true. They campaign so much, they don’t have time to actually do the job they are asking for……

  4. Polly Becton

    “Current safety concerns

    “In May 2014, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, in consultation with the Imperial War Museum, advised that WWI-era helmets were not safe to handle, owing to the likelihood of them containing asbestos. It advised that schools should not allow pupils to handle such artefacts, but should instead ensure that the objects were either safely disposed of, have the asbestos removed from the object or safely display the object.[11]”

    Who knew?

    • Helen

      Thanks Polly, very interesting info. This one has no lining left in it, it’s just bare metal but I think we’ll opt for ‘safely displaying the object’ anyhow.

  5. Ronald Carl Dennis

    Dear Helen –

    Most boys played “army” as they grew-up. Some of us had the honor of serving as adults. But we all identify with the symbolism of being willing to lay down your life for a way of life we hold dear.

    • Helen

      Very well said, Ronald.

  6. A Joyner

    There were thousands of these things left over after the war in great piles and I thought that my Granny had cornered the market – she had grabbed stacks of them.

    She kept her wool in one, another was full of apples on the dresser and we used one that was drilled full of holes to roast chestnuts in over the fire at Christmas.

  7. Michael

    “Objects that we take value in don’t always have to be valuable.” That is a beautiful line and very well said. It is odd because I have an old WWI canteen in my shop which I found in an old coal room. I know is slowly getting ruined but I like to know that it is there.

  8. Michael

    Just a thought?

    Your old barns/buildings are they safe in respect of falling slates etc. if your not sure, then a safety helmet should be warn, we all would be most upset to hear of an accident!


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