This is the title of the exhibition which will be brought to you by the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Museum of the Earth at the 17th Gold Silver Time trade show in Warsaw with raw amber, semi-finished products, finished products, selected tools and photographs.
“The exhibition will show how amber crafting techniques have changed over the centuries, along with the tools and ornaments made by amber artists and artisans. You can see the pieces by contemporary amber artists and artisans at the manufacturers’ stands,” announces Katarzyna Kwiatkowska, Head of the Amber Department at the PAS Museum of the Earth. There will be raw amber, semi-finished products, finished products, extant tools and photographs.
A demonstration of amber treatment (modification) techniques will be a definite point of interest, especially from the present-day perspective. The natural amber used to make jewellery was often improved in order to achieve the kind of colour and translucency that were most sought-after at the time. The methods ranged from simple roasting in hot sand, through boiling in oil with herbal dyes, to today’s methods of large-scale clarifying and tinting of amber in specialist equipment, such as autoclaves.
“Amber has been crafted in what is now Poland since the Late Palaeolithic Age (ca. 14,000 years ago). The most ancient amber workshop was found in Nowa Wieś, Bolesławiec County. The Neolithic process of amber crafting can be recreated using the materials from amber workshops in the Vistula Lowlands (Żuławy),” explains Katarzyna Kwiatkowska. Initially amber was worked using tools such as flax thread and flint knives (for cutting), sandstone and wood with sand (for sanding), leather and cloth (for polishing), flint piercing tools and drills (for drilling holes). Today, machines are used to ensure comprehensive and precise working of the gemstones, starting with cutting the material, through to shaping and drilling holes in it. This equipment includes saws, grinders and polishers, cabochon sawing machines, grinders, buffing machines, ball sizing machines, cabochon grinding machines and autoclaves. They are used to make the top quality jewellery in a large number of reproducible copies.
The technology is progressing at a very rapid pace. Wonder what exhibits would be at such an exhibition in, say, 100 years’ time?