Finding Patterns

As an ex Fitzroy boy I used to love nothing more than checking out the remains of Factories and in the late 70’s (in my30’s) did a bit of scavenging in the area that became Docklands. It was like a desert as it was being cleared for the development. That area had once been full of foundries. I found a tiny thumb-nail sized wooden replica of a thumb-screw affair.

I started asking people if they knew what it was. A few weeks passed and I found a much larger seven foot squared circle shape that sat alone in the middle of a huge area of nothing! There was a Sign nearby re Brock & Brock Foundry (sic) from memory, but no buildings whatsoever! I asked a friend to help me drag it to my place as I saw potential in it as a Fountain surround. There was no-one to ask about getting it. The 2 of us lifted it onto an old !railer and it still sits in my garden 40+ yrs later!

I eventually learned that they were Foundry Patterns, used to make negative sand moulds from for casting iron. The bigger one being that of a gigantic Gate Valve, perhaps for a Dam!? I started looking for more and soon started ringing Foundries to ask if they had old ones they were planning to dispose of.
Nothing! (Possibly because Foundries usually have Furnaces going full-time).

I started watching the AGE lndustrial Auctions Page and very soon was ringing Foundries about to closedown, asking if they had any Patterns. Invariably I was answered with “You shoulda rung last week mate, we just burned mountains of the stuff!”

But I started attending Foundry Auctions and eventually found myself bidding (usually un contested) for quantities of beautiful but strange wooden object that no-one seemed to know much about. Yet the craftsmanship involved was second to none! Stunningly beautiful Wheels and ‘whosiwhatsits’ in which I saw endless potential for all manner of Sculptural Furnituria and Architectural enhancement.

In hindsight I wish I’d taken things easier and sought the Patterns that appealed to me most, rather than taking anything and everything on offer but being a bit obsessive meant that I found it hard to say NO to gigantic items I should have known I’d never get to use.

All up I acquired Patterns (often Gratis) from about 15 sources, including Trewhella Jacks Trentham, Bliss Fox Eng. Milperra NSW, Johns Valves Ballarat, Ammunition Factory Footscray, MMBW Footscray, Eveleigh Railway Workshops Sydney, nowknown as Carriageworks, where 4 Million Patterns were auctioned AMIT PatternĀ­ makers School, Cockatoo Island Naval Dockyard Sydney, Switchgear P/L. Not a one from Eureka Valves Ballarat who were bought out by Johns Valves. I was dreaming of a Pattern with “EUREKA” on it as I saw it as the ultimate Found Object, since EUREKA means “1 found it”.