Saturday, July 6, 2013

Back To Work On Lecount

Marquetry Panel For Lecount Case Door

I have been rather busy lately with the business of business.  I knew that when the jobs and housing markets turned around the phone would ring.  Well, it has, and I am looking at a shop full of antiques that need my attention.  Also, I had two weeks of teaching which is always a nice change in routine.

The Lecount project has been calling me...literally.  The clock works sit on a stand in the corner of the shop and chime precisely on the hour, reminding me that they need a case.  The amazing thing about this set of works is that they run for 30 days!  And they keep time to the second.  Not bad for a set of brass works made by hand around 1690.  How many mechanisms made today will still be running perfectly in 300 years?

During the last week we had a holiday, and holidays mean that I can work without interruption.  So I returned to the chevalet and cut out the remaining panels for the door of the clock.  At the same time I thought I would make a video of the process of building marquetry face down on an assembly board, which is the French method.

I have written before about this method, but I find that using words to explain it really is confusing.  Watching a video is much better.  So I selected a simple flower example to demonstrate.  I should note that the only thing that didn't happen during this video was the phone or door bell ringing.  What did happen was the Lecount clock chimed, the mail man arrived and Bridget kept barking, Patrice stumbled over the stool while filming, and the garbage truck drove by the shop, making it impossible to hear what I said at the end.

All in all, a very professional shoot.  Watch it HERE

I am using sawn veneers, which are 1.5mm thick.  The building process is very easy and you just place the pieces in the picture cavity face down, holding them with hot protein glue.  The glue allows for some adjustment if you do it quickly, so you can move pieces around slightly for a good fit.  Later, if you find a mistake, you can easily reheat the pieces and remove them or replace them.

When the panel is assembled, I will use diluted protein glue and fine sawdust to make a mastic to fill the saw kerf, again working from the back side (glue side) of the marquetry, so the front surface remains clean.

Here are some photos of the process of building a marquetry panel using an assembly board.  The first photo shows the gluepot, assembly board, simple tools and a tray with the parts.  Note I have just completed the first panel and am ready to build the second.  The paper design goes with the parts in the tray for the second design.  All the parts in the tray are laid face down, and the paper design is inverted left to right so I can follow the design easily.

First Panel Done, Ready For Second

Here are the parts in the tray, carefully laid out according to the design.  All the pieces have been burned in hot sand.

All The Pieces Laid Out

Here is the ebony background which has just been laid into the hot glue on the stretched paper of the assembly board.  It is important to place the branches and leaves in place first, so that the background is properly located before the glue sets.  Putting the individual flowers in place takes longer so is done after the branches and leaves.

Sawn Ebony Background Glued Down

Here is the drawing for the flower at the top of the design.  It is made up of lots of pieces, and each one is unique, having a walnut piece with cut engraving lines and a box wood piece which is the lip of the petal.  This type of flower is typical of work done late in the 17th century.

Flower Design Inverted Left To Right

Here are the pieces for the flower, carefully burned and laid out in a precise location in the tray.

Flower Pieces Ready To Install

Here is the flower assembled.  You are looking at the back (glue side) of the flower, which will be filled with mastic to complete the process.

Flower Assembled Face Down
Here is the final picture, glued to the assembly board, ready for mastic.  The entire assembly of this picture took less than an hour.  Much less.

Ready For Mastic


Anonymous said...

What is the brand of hot plate you arr using with
your glue pot
I have been inspired by your work to use hot protein glue in my work so I purchased a glue pot but have had a dificult time finding a hot plate that is not considerable larger than the base
Yours seems to fit perfectly

Thank you for being so willing to share your knowlage and processes with the reading public


W. Patrick Edwards said...

I use different hot plates. The one in the video is a Toastmaster, 750 watts. It is not expensive and I need to replace it from time to time, as it takes a beating.

For the double boiler, you don't need much heat. 600 to 750 watts is fine, and the lowest setting on the dial.

However, for hot sand you need a lot of heat and a good quality hot plate. I found a hot plate online which was made in Germany and is rated at 1500 watts and cost $150. That is the minimum that it takes to heat the sand.

I will do a video on sand burning soon.


Frank Strazza said...

Patrick, I found this hot plate for sand shading and it works great, the price is better too. The trick is to get an infinite switch.


Gary Cook said...

Hi Patrick,

I'm totally fascinated with your blog, an so pleased you've taken the time to share your knowledge and experience with everyone out there.

The latest post answers some question I had about making this sort of marquetry, but I still don't understand the packet layers and how that stage is performed. I one of your blog posts with pics, but my small brain still didn't get it.

Have you also done a video for that stage of the process? It would be great to see, if you have.

Thanks so much
Gary Cook

W. Patrick Edwards said...

I will do a video on how the packet is prepared for the Painting in Wood process soon.

For example, in this project I had a packet which was comprised of a 3mm back board (to eliminate the tear out and support the material), a layer of grease paper (for lubrication of the blade), a layer of ebony (the back ground), a layer of green dyed wood (for the leaves), a layer of mahogany (for all the branches), and then 4 more layers, each of which was assembled from a variety of woods in different positions, then the 1.5mm front board with the design on the face.

The 4 layers of mixed woods was assembled with each wood in a specific location to match the design. That way, when I cut out an element of the design, I select the single layer element with the species of wood I want, and all the other layers are thrown away.

If I want a piece of the back ground, I select the ebony, Same for the leaf or branch. If I want a piece of a flower, I select that wood from its position in one of the top 4 layers, where it has been placed.

The challenge of this process is placing all the correct species of woods in exactly the correct position in the packet where it is needed. The more complicated the design, the more fun it is for me.

No, I do not have X-ray vision, but I have a talent for keeping many layers of woods in my mind at the same time, so I can see the final composition before it is even cut.

Gary Cook said...

Thanks Patrick, I'll look forward to seeing that. I do get it now I think, but video expresses things much better than pics I think.


Frank Strazza said...

Hi Patrick,

I think you answered my question above, but If I understand correctly, you are throwing away many of the small pieces that you don't use and just selecting the one piece that is the one that you need? That seems somewhat wasteful of valuable veneer. I understand that you have to have a piece that is the same size as the previous piece when making up the packet, or do you use some waster veneer on the areas that you are not going to use. I just wonder if there is a way to do this where you don't have to use up so much veneer just to get a few small pieces. I might not be asking my question in the clearest possible way, but I hope you can understand. In other words, If you were making up a packet that is 12" wide by 24" long and the picture is in the middle, say 5" by 10" then would you get all your veneer in the packet, the larger size, or would you use smaller pieces when making up your packet for the area where the picture is going to be? And then use some scrap veneer to "fill in the areas" around the picture area in the packet? Again I hope this makes sense!

Thanks for your hard work in contribituing to the continuing of this lost craft.

W. Patrick Edwards said...

I am pleased at the questions about this process. I have done this work for so many years it is "obvious" to me what I am talking about.

I imagine that other composers asked Mozart how he wrote so many pieces, and he would answer, "Simple, just pick a key and start writing down notes!"

Like Nike says, "just do it."

However, to explain further, I will post more now.