Archive for the ‘Inlay’ Category

Harlequin trimmed

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

I’ve got the two inlays for the sides of the peg head trimmed out. [The lower tip on each is not final-trimmed because it is so delicate. I will get to it later, closer to the time it will be glued in.]


The side with the design showing is actually the bottom that will be glued against the peg head. The top side is taped. So, the one from the other side of the peg head is seen sitting on the near side, showing how it will appear.

I’m not sure how I like it. I will have to get the body and keychest out and see what they all look like together.

Harlequin taped and glued

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
I removed all the layers of old tape from the individual barber pole strips. The two inlays kept falling apart, because the original  stripes were just taped together. After several re-attachments, I put fresh tape on the front, crossing the joints, which the former tape did not do, because the original taped strips were cut. Using the template I made in Corel Draw on the computer, I traced the trim lines with a fine-point marker onto each piece on the back. This is done before gluing, because you can’t write very well on the glue.

Two inlays with pattern, after taping the fronts and tracing trim lines

After that, I spread carpenter’s glue over the back of both inlays, put tinfoil over that with heavy books for weight while drying. The glue doesn’t stick to the tinfoil. So now they should be strong enough to work with. They want to curl, requiring weight to be kept on them.


One of the pieces with glue coating on the back side, tinfoil removed

Trimming is next.

Harlequin progress

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Okay, I got the error in the pattern fixed, as well as adding all the diamonds that should be needed for both sides.


Both sides assembled, showing a preview with the peg head

You can see that they are opposites: the upper one starts with the dark row at the top, and the lower one starts with the light row at the top.

They will have to be trimmed to shape next, but first tape needs to be applied all across the top side and glue spread all over the back side into the seams, to make sure they will not fall apart when trimming the edges.

Harlequin assembly

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

After cutting some 5/16″-wide strips of the four veneers, I’ve been trying to lay out the pattern. The first thing was making two sets of parallel stripes with them that will cover the area needed on the sides of the peg head. These are taped together with Post-It tape.


Initial striped pairs before diagonal cutting

Then the first angle is cut on both sets, and 5/16″-wide strips are made from there, creating barberpole-like pieces. These get alternated with the other set’s diagonal strips to get the 4-color pattern. The odd-numbered strips from one set are paired with the even-numbered strips from the other, and vice-versa, creating an inlay for both sides of the peg head.


Stripes on right get cut into strips to add to diamonds on left

Uh-oh!! There’s an error in the repetition of the pattern above, can you spot it?

Since the strips are being cut by hand, they aren’t perfectly the same width, which requires some tweaking of the diagonal strips, so that the edges between adjoining strips more-or-less line up. This is done by narrowing a diamond which is too wide, which throws off the pattern in a strip.

Harlequin layout

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Okay, here’s progress, such as it is. I’ve drawn out the pattern full scale for the diamonds of the harlequin inlay on the sides of the peg head.


The strips will be 5/16″ wide and at 60-degree angles to the vertical edge. Now that I know the angle and how much area I need, I can start cutting the veneer.

Harlequin New Year

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Time to try to get back in the swing of things! Hope you have bounced back from the holidays better than I have. A little more than is shown in the last post of 2011 has been carved, but not much.

Today I was thinking about the design for the sides of the peg head. There usually is a diamond pattern carved into the sides.


Traditional design for the sides of a peg head

harlequin-patternIn keeping with the rest of my instrument, I want to do this with inlay. I will use the same four wood veneers I used for the “3D” basket weave on the lid of the keychest. I won’t do the exact basket weave, though, just diamonds. But how to repeat the colors? I did the ol’ Google search for harlequin pattern to get some ideas. Some had the colors fairly random. And some repeated various ways but had too few or too many colors.

In Adobe Illustrator, I made two repeating patterns I liked using four colors. One of them vaguely resembled a basket weave more than the other, so I decided to go with it.


Obviously, the outer shape won’t be a diamond, but will match the outline of the peg head. This illustration is just a test of the pattern. I won’t do that traditional shell-thing seen on the right. If I do anything there, I might inlay a French fleur-de-lis. I’ll have to see. The grains and colors of the woods themselves will have to substitute for the stars and flowers inside the diamonds.

A Ma Vie

Monday, October 31st, 2011

hermine1When I did the laser-etching on the keychest, I promised to do a post on what the phrase A Ma Vie meant. So, finally… voilà!

It is associated with Brittany and the ermine, which I also used on my hurdy-gurdy, especially for the soundholes. You can see the whole ermine to the left, as well as the symbolic fur tufts like I used for the soundholes, and the phrase A ma Vie.

More precisely, it is associated with Duchess Anne of Brittany. As the postcard says: “The ermine,  emblem of Anne of Brittany, wife of Louis XII.”



This postcard gives more clues, the French text explaining the “devise” [motto]: “As this emblem is also that of purity of manners, it is believed that the motto A ma vie signifies I will remain pure all my life.” [or ‘in my life’] So, A ma vie [“ my life”] is an abbreviated slogan for this larger concept of purity. But what’s this got to do with ermines?

As with the French fleur-de-lis [lily], these weasel-like animals are a symbol of purity.  Their winter coats are snow-white, except for the black tip of their tails.


Anne of Brittany, r. 1488-1514

There is a legend about them that explains the Breton motto. One version is that the Duchess Anne of Brittany was on a hunt with her court when an ermine was being chased by the hunting party. When the ermine came upon a swamp, it turned to face certain death from the hounds rather than escape and muddy its pure white coat. Anne was impressed by the creature’s courageous attitude and asked that it be spared. She adopted it for her emblem. It has been used widely as a symbol for Brittany on various coats of arms, and even on their modern flag.

A longer motto of the Duchy of Brittany was Plutôt la mort que la souillure. [“Rather death than defilement”] A ma vie is a variant of  this same sentiment, according to Wikipedia.


Ermines with “A ma vie” scrolls carved in stone on an old mantlepiece

I don’t  know why they had so much difficulty portraying ermines back then. They are rather cute, contrary to the old representations.


Lid marquetry – sanded

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I managed to get all the glue goop off. It still needs more sanding, though. Strange how light the whole thing got by sanding. Looks too light, especially the basketweave part, which doesn’t contrast with the light background diamonds much now. I assume it will darken up significantly when the finish is applied.


The final sanding isn’t done, but you can get the idea.


Lid marquetry – inlaid

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Like other inlay recesses I’ve done here, the edge was scored with an X-acto knife, the inner edge beveled with that knife, then Jerry’s little plane was used at various depths to gradually hollow out the recess. You can see in the photo how I used a strip of the veneer to keep the plane level, even when the wood was cut out from under it.


This shallow recess made quite a pile of shavings!

I lightly sanded the back of the marquetry, to rough up the glued side and to level up any thicker spots. Then I made some mahogany sawdust to dye the glue to hide any gaps around the edge. I wanted to used epoxy just in case wood glue would eventually be effected by any perspiration from my forearm constantly sliding back and forth along the lid. I mixed up the rest of my 5-minute epoxy and quickly started spreading it into the recess. It got quite messy as it was on my fingers and getting on the edges of the lid, but that should be no problem when it’s all sanded. The last thing I wanted was for it to start hardening before I had it all spread out and the marquetry inserted.

After rolling it down with my marquetry roller, I clamped it to a flat board, with tin foil and and several layers of paper towel. The tin foil is to keep it from gluing to something else, and the cushioning of the paper towel is to make sure any thinner veneers in the pattern also receive pressure.


Making sure the 145 little pieces of veneer get glued in there tightly

After removing the clamps…


Section of inlaid lid showing epoxy mess

Lid design

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Well, the lid of a hurdy-gurdy is ideal for decorating, I think. Time for some more marquetry! I have thought of all sorts of things over the months: more folk dancers, a breton landscape, different gothic cathedral designs, various symbols, and so on. But those all seemed too complicated or I wasn’t completely sold on the idea. Many just didn’t fit well in a narrow rectangle.

The one I kept coming back to was a floor design on a landing of the Golden Staircase in the Doges’ Palace in Venice, Italy. The picture is from a Newsweek book from the series Wonders of Man that I’ve had since 1973. Glad I hung on to it four almost four decades to help solve this design need.


Golden Staircase in the Doges’ Palace, Venice, Italy

Based upon the size, this is probably marble, not a parquetry wood floor, but it also would look great done in wood. I like the trompe l’oeil 3D effect. It is also a pattern that looks good extended horizontally in a narrow vertical space. And it looks equally good vertically, if the instrument is standing up.

I scanned the page and warped the perspective out of the floor until the edges were square again.


Floor section of picture all squared-up using Photoshop

Then I just had to repeat it to fit the lid and computerize it into a pattern. That was the hardest part, getting the angle right and the widths of the pieces to make it repeat correctly, ending at the proper place in the pattern at the sides.


Design created to the proportions needed for the lid using Corel DRAW

Lots of pieces, but at least they’re uniform strips. Yes, the ‘height’ of the 3D pattern is a little short. I may adjust that when cutting the veneer strips. On the ‘top’ pieces I decided to add a basketweave effect, which will require extra cutting. If the ‘bottom’ diamonds were a dark color, it would look like holes were were cut in the lid, but I think the contrast would be too glaring. I want it to be fairly subtle. To give it a little breton flair, I plan to inlay some black-white-black edging around it, as on the front of the keychest, and around the edge of the soundboard.

The next step is picking the veneers to use.