The Fine Art of Optical Inspection
Antique art restorer Lloyd Williams finds resolve in the new Mantis magnification stereo viewer from Vision Engineering, for his magnificent work restoring art and antiques using a wide variety of techniques and materials under magnification.
Lloyd Williams has over 35 years experience of restoration in a wide range of techniques, materials, periods and styles. From 17th century Mogul cabinets and art objects, French Empire presentation firearms, Chinese furniture, Spanish Colonial tortoiseshell and silver boxes, to European scientific instruments. Techniques include: stone, wood and iron carving; gold and silver damascene work; engraving and painting.
Lloyd utilises the Mantis for many tasks including working in gold and silver for example, an antique butt plate from a 17th century German wheel lock sporting gun has gold and silver foil applied to it using damascene technique requiring optimum clarity and accuracy. The gold and silver are applied after a series of intersecting parallel knife-cut lines have been made to allow the gold or silver foil to be interlaced, generally referred to as the damascene technique. After the surface has been cleared of remaining detail (if insufficient to include in the new work), hatching is applied to prepare for penetration of the foil.
Damascene technique is one of many processes that Lloyd uses to apply decorative designs to antiques. A priority when applying any technique under magnification is to establish a good working distance, especially when using tools to create cavities to inlay stones or jewels. Mantis provides a substantial working distance up to 96mm with the X4 objective lens and advantageous flexibility with a universal stand. The Universal stand can be bolted to a workbench quickly and easily using the ‘G’ clamp provided or simply bolted to the work surface.
Offering visually tangible benefits, the new Mantis is a dynamic and versatile tool for art restoration. With a large field of view and depth of field Lloyd can confidently pursue his activities under magnification with the superior stereo image delivering maximum depth and field of the subject. Mantis provides up to 34mm field of view of the subject with the X4 objective lens.
Mantis illuminates the subject with 24 LEDs, benefiting users such as Lloyd because the illumination remains cold unlike traditional lamps that generate heat when they are used for long periods. Needless to say, minimising effects such as these is crucial in art restoration when working with heat sensitive materials such as tortoiseshell.
Ergonomic considerations alone dictated that Mantis should function with an apparent distance to the image of a viewed object identical to that of the actual distance to the real object. As art restorers frequently alternate their views from the magnified object image to the actual object (especially when manipulating the part), this eliminates the need for the eyes to refocus each time ? a tangible advantage in reducing eyestrain and fatigue.
Lloyd explains “Without a doubt, Mantis has met with my expectations and has delivered an outstanding alternative to conventional magnification. The ergonomic advantages of the Mantis stereo viewer are unparalleled with any conventional microscope. I have been highly recommending it to other antique and art restorers in the field and will continue to do so.”