Progress on the picture

I’ve made some progress on the marquetry picture I’m working on.  Sunday I sawed out the remainder of the picture and began assembling it.

My shop motivation has been really low lately — but my family and work commitments have been at an all time high, so that probably shouldn’t surprise me.  But it does.  Go figure.

If you have forced yourself to parse some of my earlier gibble you may recall that I had a hard time learning to saw with the “coarse” 32tpi blade in the marquetry chevalet.  A friend equated it to a high powered sport bike with a fast throttle.  That’s pretty much it, and the consequences of a fast wrist twist are about the same.  You’ll blow right through whatever is in front of you in the blink of an eye.  It takes a very gentle touch, especially on tight turns.

First set of elements sawn out of the packet.  I since decided to swap the central colors, using the red for the rays and the brown for the stigma.

First set of elements sawn out of the packet. I since decided to swap the central colors, using the red for the rays and the brown for the stigma.

My sawing is far from perfect, but I’m able to erase the layout line with the kerf most of the time.  With the “piece-by-piece” method – which I both dread and eagerly anticipate to in equal parts.  Piece-by-piece involves cutting out the background, then cutting each piece separately — as opposed to the Boulle or stack cutting method I’m using.  The advantage is less waste and you can make multiple finished parts at once.  The challenge is that the sawing needs to be dead accurate or the parts won’t fit.

But that is a digression.

One problem I’ve had in the past is the as parts are removed from the stack of veneers it gets loose and hard to manage.  I use tape to reinforce it as I go, but I tried something new this time.  I got a tin of veneer nails from Patrick Edwards and pinned the stack of veneers.  This was a great help.

French Veneer Nails.

French Veneer Nails.

About three hours of sawing gave me a giant stack of veneer parts.  I started assembling them using shelf paper as an intermediate step.  I figured I would need to sand shade this to make it look right, and the first assembly bore that out.  It looks bland and loses a lot of the details in the leaves without shading.

The flower looks flat, and the leaves just look like a big green blob.  Time to fire up a skillet of sand.

The flower looks flat, and the leaves just look like a big green blob. Time to fire up a skillet of sand.

After an hour or so of carefully burning my little bits of veneer, and wetting them to “re-hydrate” and flatten them, I re-assembled the same parts.  I think this makes a giant improvement.

Same parts with sand shading completed

Same parts with sand shading completed

It’s hard to judge the right amount of scorching while I’m doing it.  The sand leaves a white dust on the veneer, and it isn’t until you see it assembled that it’s clear that you’ve done it right (or not).  It’s just practice and experience though, I know I’ll get a better sense for it before long.  It’s also surprising how quickly different veneers react to the heat.  The white petals (Holly maybe?) go really fast, the green dyed veneer for the leaves takes much longer.  And I’ve realized that faster is better.  The first hot plate I used didn’t get hot enough, it would take 20 or 30 second per piece.  That also caused a huge amount of warping, bubbling of the paper reinforcement and charing of the glue.  I’m at 5 to 10 seconds to get most pieces done, that’s much better.  I think I should actually be a bit hotter still.

Getting closer.  I need to find the rest of the pieces, and make replacements for the ones that are lost.

Getting closer. I need to find the rest of the pieces, and make replacements for the ones that are lost.

So I’ve probably got two more hours of work to get this assembled on the shelf paper.  I lost a few parts, and will need to make patches.  Then I’ll get this glued to the assembly board and think about adding a border and making this into a finished panel I can use in a small cabinet.  Or I’ll have a veneer fire in the driveway, you never know.

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Progress on the picture

  1. Paul K. Murphy

    Looks great!

  2. This looks awesome.

  3. JR

    wow, I like.

  4. I can see a huge improvemnt in the sawing Joe. And the shading brings a detail to the petals especially that is lacking with them being plain Jane.

  5. Very nice. Did you dye the colored pieces yourself?

    • Thanks Brian, that is commercially dyed veneer. There aren’t a huge number of choices for “green” in natural wood colors. Poplar heartwood is a light green, and I recently got some Ipe that is a dark greenish black color. This seems to be a reasonable thickness and the color is nice enough. The red-dyed veneer is paper thin, nearly half the thickness of the green which I think is a problem.

      (I have a whole rant about nominal dimensions in wood, especially heavily processed materials like veneer and plywood. I won’t start…but would you be happy if your new car had a nominal four tires, but only three when you drove it off the dealer’s lot?)

  6. Wow, looking very good! Very inspiring, must try that sometimes.
    Bob

  7. Impressive Joe! With the shading added it takes on a 3-dimensional appearance for sure. Looks as if the flower could be plucked up and held in my hand. The sawing is looking really good too. There is no stopping you now.

    Greg

    • Hey, thanks Greg. A few more of these and I think I’ll have enough confidence to plan a project around it…

      I was thinking that you and I should both do toolboxes. You can embellish your with Kolrossing and I’ll do marquetry on mine.

      • That could be a lot of fun. Can’t do it on the upcoming Japanese toolbox though. Speed is of the essence on that one. Looks like we are moving. Once I’m settled lets pick something to build.

        Greg

  8. Jonathan

    Joe,

    This looks fantastic. It would be an incredible embellishment to a toolbox lid. I can’t wait to see where you go with it.

    Jonathan

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