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Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Metalwork at Bryn Athyn Cathedral

6 Comments

Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Last week I visited our old hometown Philadelphia and ended up going to see The Cathedral – as we know it –  the grounds for several impressive Gothic and Romanesque style  buildings built between 1913- 1919 known as Bryn Athyn Cathedral.  When we lived here we used to go for pleasant walks on the grounds to enjoy the extensive flower plantings and to admire the architecture.

I had never really looked carefully at the metalwork that exists in the cathedral and was quite amazed how very interesting it is and then learned it uses some impressive techniques. I especially liked all the handles in the various doors that are made with monel metal. The animals depicted in these door handles have some type of biblical symbolism. So, what is monel metal? Monel is a natural alloy of nickel (67 percent) and copper (28 percent), with a small proportion of other metals. It is very tough, more difficult to work with than iron, and can be welded only using oxygen and acetylene. It will not rust, and will maintain a white, nickel-like beauty without being reflective. When hand beaten, its surface presents a pleasing texture of light and darker tones. While outdoors it develops a lovely patina of gray-green.

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Throughout the Cathedral the locks and latches are also fashioned of monel. There is a collection of forty-seven handcrafted monel keys that open the locks!

Another interesting detail about the cathedral is that there are no right angles or straight lines – this  used to be common in medieval buildings.

The stair railings that you see in the picture are quite remarkable work of art. They have a lovely green patina and work so well together with the stones of the building.

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Spiral Stair Railing

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Spiral Stair Railing

Bryn Athyn Cathedral - Set of  Metal Doors

Bryn Athyn Cathedral – Set of Metal Doors

Bryn Athyn Cathedral - Set of  Metal Doors Copper

Bryn Athyn Cathedral – Set of Metal Doors

The stained glass windows of Bryn Athyn Cathedral were created using the medieval method—melting various pigment and metallic oxides into the glass itself and then having a glass blower create a disc of glass with varying degrees of thickness and brightness.

There is a set of doors that are made out of single sheets of hammered copper,  together with these monel handles they certainly demand attention!

I became interested in metalwork recently so I never actually paid attention to these marvelous details. This sure gives you an appreciation what a real metalsmith and craftsman can do!

As visitphilly describes it “This welcoming stone Cathedral, with Gothic archways, stained glass windows and carved woodwork, is the spiritual center of Bryn Athyn, a religious community with its own school system and museum. Symbolism connects theological doctrine to the Cathedral’s design, using elements of medieval simplicity and the American arts & crafts movement.”  If you wish to learn more about the Bryn Athyn Cathedral metalwork see: http://www.newchurchhistory.org/articles/cathedral/09themetalwork.php

Glass and Monel Metal Door at Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Glass and Monel Metal Door at Bryn Athyn Cathedral

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Author: evadesignseditor

Blue Finn Studio (previously Evä Designs) is my creative studio where I design jewelry and other accessories. I am now back living in Philadelphia after several years finding inspirations at coastal Maine. Please visit my website at www.evadesigns.us!

6 thoughts on “Metalwork at Bryn Athyn Cathedral

  1. That spiral stair railing is truly impressive. Look at all that scrollwork! Lovely post.

    • I especially loved the green patina on the railing, it has such interesting variations. They also have several doors that are completely constructed with this type of scrollwork. So impressive! Thank you for your nice comment.

  2. I did know what monel was – yes, with time it does take on a beautiful patina. Bryn Athyn Cathedral is such a fine example of Arts & Crafts craftmanship (I wish I could see it in person). On the website I noticed some amazing monel pieces (on top of a gate?) : naturalistic seed pods and plant forms, beautifully executed. Could be jewelry! Thank you for your interesting and inspiring post.

    • I added another picture at the end of the post of a door that has a really extensive amount of different forms done with Monel. It has lettering “nunc licet intellectualiter intrare in arcana fidei” which I found is translated as “Now you are allowed to enter the mysteries of belief with the intellect”. It seems that the words are from a book by Emanuel Swedenborg. Thank you for your comment!

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