Archive for the ‘Marquetry’ Category

My father’s portrait completed

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

My father's marquetry portrait

At long last, I finished my father’s marquetry portrait! I posted the pattern for this in August, 2010. It was mostly what I have been doing, hobbywise, instead of working on my hurdy-gurdy. This is made from thin wood veneers cut with an X-acto knife. To compare it with my mother’s and to see the original picture, go here.

Italian peasant girl – new shawl

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Thanks to my hurdy-gurdy, the peasant girl now not only has both her shoulders, but a new shawl! She’s looking dramatically better, finally. A major roadblock has been overcome.

The shoulder on the right side has been attached. It was made separately due to the picture getting too big and unwieldy to allow for a lot of detailed work. The water behind it has been put in. The old shawl parts were cut away and the new pieces with the wavy grain added.


Things are looking up for the Italian peasant girl, with her new shawl

The wrinkles discovered on the edges of a piece of burl I was using for the hurdy-gurdy lid design seem to match the shape of the shawl well, and it is the right color – red. Now there are just a couple shadow pieces near the waist, where it crosses, and along the left edge of the top diagonal piece. I never would have guessed the solution would be so simple!


A partial reject shawl on the left and the good one on the right

Since my other scan had gotten left on a previous computer, I have rescanned the original picture in the book, enlarged it to match the marquetry. The top section has been printed out and I have started drawing the pattern. Her head, with the sky, tree and hillside will be made separately and added on later. I’ve also started pawing through the veneers for suitable pieces.

Lady in waiting

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

The wood used for the border of the lid inlay had some grain in it that I thought would be perfect for a tough wardrobe item of my lady in waiting. Years ago [the first post on a marquetry forum about it was Dec, 2003], I started a marquetry portrait of an Italian peasant girl, “A daughter of Abruzzi” as the old geography book refers to her.


LANDS AND PEOPLES, The Grolier Society, vol II page 307, 1929-1953

She is waiting eventually for her head, but in the short term, she is waiting patiently for her shawl. I spent months on the picture over the years, putting in hundreds of pieces, but got bogged down with the shawl. I’ve tried it several times, cutting in different woods to simulate the folds, but it just wasn’t coming out right. So, maybe this burl veneer with the two places of unique wavy grain will make it look like it is supposed to? So, I retrieved her out of storage to work on the picture some.


The Italian peasant girl picture is as wide as the keychest

This is the biggest, most complicated picture I have done so far, and that’s not including the top third of the image. Right now it is about 13″ x 13″.


Detail showing the variety of all the natural colored woods

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 marquetry – frame

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

The frame is done. That wood looks the same color as the lid’s mahogany, except with swirly grain. The long sides are segmented into five pieces to get matching grain, so the frame has twelve pieces. The design has been trimmed out of the scrap veneer to its final size.


Completed marquetry inlay shown with lid

Now I have to cut the recess for it into the lid. Jerry again graciously let me borrow his little planes and inlay tools.

Lid marquetry – background

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Here are the thirty-three background diamonds. Since that wood is real light, the pattern isn’t quite as subtle as I was expecting. Hope it isn’t “too much.”


Pattern completed, awaiting the border

There are 130 pieces in the design. Next is the frame.

Lid marquetry – light shadows

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Here’s the thirty diagonal ‘edges’ with the lighter shadows on the 3D lattice.


Now it actually looks like a lattice

 Next is the ‘bottom’ —those diamonds— which will be the lightest color.

Lid marquetry – dark shadows

Monday, August 8th, 2011

The thirty dark-shadowed ‘edge’ pieces have been put in.


Starting to get a little sense of depth

Next will be the thirty lighter-shadowed ‘edges.’

Lid marquetry – basketweave

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Here are the woods I chose to use for the geometric marquetry design on the lid. Don’t ask me what kind of woods they are. Different burls for a marble effect, like on that Italian floor.


Veneers chosen for the lid design

The two darker ones on the left are for the shadowed ‘vertical’ sides of the 3D gridwork. The lightest one is for the ‘bottom’ of the design, and the one to the right of that is for the ‘top’ basketweave design. The darker reddish-brown on the far right is for an outer border around the design. They look like they would resemble the floor colors, and also go well with the mahogany of the lid.


View of metal cutting guide and completed strips

I needed to cut strips to a consistent width for this, so I made a cutting guide by clamping two metal rulers together, the top one overhanging the bottom by the desired width.


It was quite a math exercise drawing the pattern on the scrap veneer

Next was drawing the pattern on a scrap piece of veneer that the design was to be built into. This was difficult getting all the lines to cross at the proper places. I didn’t draw in the shadow lines, just the ‘top’ shapes. The pattern is drawn on the back, which is the working side, so the top side stays clean without all the smeared glue and ink.


Strips laid on top of the pattern to test the look of the 3D effect

Like some sort of fossilization process, all of this wood with the pattern drawn on it will eventually be replaced with the cut pieces of the pattern. I could have used one of the pattern woods and built everything else into it, but that would have wasted a lot of a much more valuable burl wood than the scrap wood being used.


View of front showing completed basketweave

The ‘top’ basketweave surface was done first. Long strips were put in going one direction. Short strips criss-crossing them were done afterwards going the other direction.

The shadow pieces will be done next, which should give it some contrast and make it pop out more.