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West Dean College Student Case Study

Daniel Ravizza, MA in Conservation

West Dean College Student Case StudyDaniel Ravizza is a Metalwork Conservation student at West Dean College who is about to graduate from the Postgraduate Diploma and going on to the 10-week summer extension at West Dean to complete his MA in Conservation. Daniel, from the USA, has already secured a job to start next February, once he has his visa finalised.

Before starting his studies at West Dean College Daniel completed a BSc degree in Manufacturing Engineering and worked as a toolmaker and machinist in the perforating and aerospace industries. However, with a lifelong interest in collecting and fixing things he wanted to combine his interest in hand crafts, art and history, and the West Dean program offers the possibility to pursue a more craft and historically focussed career.

Daniel’s placement during last summer was as a conservation specialist focusing on operational artefacts for the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Daniel established the Blacksmith Student Society at West Dean and taught students from across the disciplines basic blacksmithing. One of his projects here involved building a replica Elizabethan child’s toy matchlock pistol, devising a manufacturing process using traditional materials and techniques to reproduce the pistol as an example of experimental archaeology. He employed traditional methods to create moulds in which to cast the molten brass. Daniel explains, “The fun part was creating sand cores which formed the hollow parts of the gun such as the barrel. I experimented using a blend of sand, vegetable oil, starch and even treacle! Not only was it fascinating to learn about the history of this toy, but to be able to experiment and discover how the originals might have been made.”

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