It’s been a wonderful time filled with family, visitations, luncheons and dinners … all in celebration of my Dad’s 93rd Birthday!! But now our company has gone back home … the dust has settled … and I’ve finally returned to some serious time in the workshop.
Finishing off Nouveau Gal’s hair means this main front panel for my wine box is complete!
At the same time Nouveau Lady got her hairdo done too … so I could work on both in preparation for gluing to their respective substructures.
Of course, this is the neat and tidy version you get to see! … the front of this design was totally covered with low-tac masking tape, then flipped over to remove all the bits and pieces of tape that had been keeping things all together up to this point.
With the front tape firmly finger-pressed down on the front side, a stiff brush is used to scrub the back side of the picture to remove all clinging silica sand from the cut lines. There’s nothing worse (after the fact) than to see a little white spot of sand marring an otherwise clean dark line of filler!! What do they say about “an ounce of prevention” ?!!
Now I do have to stress another important factor when working Marquetry. You always have two sides to choose from!! With the Window Method of cutting, I prefer to keep the side I’ve been working upon as what will become my finished side. But … I could easily have chosen to reverse this design. Nouveau Gal would have looked good either way. However …............
This is my very old wine box that will soon make the trip to cabin life! Yes … I like Nouveau Gals!! … Art Nouveau in general. Actually I cheated quite a bit on this one with the use of indelible outlining, and drawing in her face and fingers. Either I didn’t feel capable of going the whole 9 yards with the use of more intricate cutting … or I was pressed for time. I’ll go for the latter, with the idea that I was in a rush to pour myself that first glass of Merlot from my Marquetry Wine Box!!
Whatever the decision … reverse side or the front that’s been seen throughout working … the choice is yours to make before applying filler! Just remember … the (protective) masking tape covers the good side of the design. This particular knowledge will come in handy for me to remember when the other 3 panels of this wine box design are ready for filler!!
As you can see in this picture I’m set to begin mixing my filler … I use Weldbond glue. It’s white, but dries clear. Therefore it will not weaken the enhancement of colour added. My pigment is simply powder tempera … the stuff kids love to do finger painting with! There is absolutely no reaction once lacquers are applied.
Many years ago, through a discouraging amount of trial and error, I finally found this powder to be the answer. Trust me on this … because I don’t want you to go through what I went through. Pigmentation blooming and spreading from filled lines once an application of lacquer hits it, is not a pretty sight … nor an easy fix!!!
Okay … so the glue … the powdered colour (black for this purpose) ... and lastly the ingredient that helps to form an easy-to-spread paste … sawdust. I collect the dust from my scroll saw and strain it through a tea strainer so that only the finest particles are used in the making of this filler.
The filler is pressed into all the cut lines … accent lines … and gaps!! of which there are plenty, using a painters palette-knife. They vary in shapes and sizes, but the best I’ve found are shorter (a bit thicker) and are strong enough for pushing filler in, and scraping excess off. Because this mixture is wet, you want the veneers to remain flat while working the goop in. Waxed paper under a bit of light weight is sufficient during this process.
When the whole back side of the design is filled, it’s covered with a layer of waxed paper and place it under heavier pressure. I don’t want the extreme pressure of a press … just a few heavy books, slabs of wood or a concrete block will do. The idea is to keep the design flat while the filler dries … which I usually let stand over night. Extreme pressure would make the protective tape harder to remove, and possibly tear out grain in the process.
When the filler is completely dry, it’s time to scrape the remaining excess to smooth the back surface. I use a combination of paint scraper and straight razor blades to achieve this. It’s not hard work … but time consuming because in some cases a second layer of filler is needed. For instance, although I tried hard to keep to the same thickness of veneers … the veneer for the centre of each flower was thinner than the surrounding petals. So that second layer of filler bumped it up to the level of the petals.
In addition to that second patched layer of filler, there were numerous small areas that were either missed or filler had pulled out while scraping. Seen through the light of a window is enough to show where those small areas can be quickly filled … I’ve helped you find them all by circling over the tape. If you’ve found more gaps than what I’ve circled, well … sorry … it’s too late!
While the filler was in ‘drying mode’ I was busy preparing the other 3 panels …........
Here you see the background sections minus their motifs. The design, transferred via carbon paper, onto the taped areas designated.
Well! I seem to have misplaced a few photos!! Oh well, I’ll find them … but in the meantime … back to Nouveau Gal ….......
Okay … up close, this doesn’t look too pretty!
With the filler totally dry, the protective tape is removed from the front … and it really is quite neat how ’all-together and flexible’ this thin design has become. Look Ma … no tape!! However some of the filler has leaked through to the good side. Some can be dealt with right now … with the rest cleaned up after it’s been glued in place.
Using the Exacto knife chisel blade, I can quickly remove much of the excess. Bonus … the glue in the filler mix actually prevents pigment from penetrating into the raw veneer! What doesn’t look all that great right now … won’t even be noticeable later!
I know I’m all over the place … but … Nouveau Lady needed all this attention as well after being cut into a background of Walnut Burl. The following few photos tells her story!
Check out her hair-do!! With a piece of doorskin prepared with rolled-on Weldbond glue, Nouveau Lady was set in place then covered with a protective layer of waxed paper and ….......
........... put into the press. Now, this is what I call extreme pressure!!
The glue gives approximately 10 minutes grace should anything go wrong. I just happen to know that little tidbit of information! ... and that the veneer face can be carefully lifted with the aid of much larger palette knives.
Many years ago … with brain totally disengaged … I went through the process of applying glue, placing the veneer design … good side down! … on its mounting board, covering with waxed paper and taping edges to prevent slippage. It wasn’t until I was starting to clamp down onto the surface that my brain thankfully engaged in time to notice my dumb move … and the rush was on to carefully remove it without causing further damage!!
In that particular case, I just stuck the design under light pressure until the glue (on it’s good surface) had dried … scraped to remove the rough excess, then glued it up properly. Because this glue dries clear, and nothing had to be stained afterwards, everything worked out. But I’ll never forget that flutter of panic experienced over almost ruining weeks of work!!
Ah! There’s the pretty lady!! Using the same scraping tools, I go over the surface lightly. Having to go in every direction following the various grain patterns means careful attention must be applied to prevent grains from pulling out.
Now that Nouveau Lady is to this stage, I’ll tuck her away for the time being. I’m hoping to make an Intarsia frame for this one … and also hoping I can have it ready for that Very-Special-Teenage-Birthday coming up!
Back to Nouveau Gal … she’s ready to glue onto the wine box base.
You would have had a hard time controlling your laughter if I had blogged about building this basic box… so I saved myself that embarrassment!! At least it’s square … well … almost!
Anyway, I dragged my hide-glue and coffee-perk-heater out from the dungeon … just to prove to Paul (aka Shipwright) that I do use the stuff every now and then!! I glued strips of Rosewood veneer along the top edge of the box.
Rosewood isn’t very bendable, so I dunked my ‘metal form’ into the coffee pot to heat up … dunked the strip of veneer into the hot water as well … did the wrap and let it dry. All that, so I could veneer the wine spigot hole … with the seam at the top of the hole where it wouldn’t be noticeable.
With that job finished … I quickly put my hide-glue back into the dungeon! How is it I can paint an entire wall without getting one little drop of paint on myself? But … put hide-glue in front of me and I get that icky sticky stuff everywhere!!!
It’s time to glue Nouveau Gal onto the front of the wine box … with Brain’s engaged!!!
It’s also time to introduce another of my beautiful presses. I know someone out there was interested in my presses … and so …....
The reason for the cover? This press resides in my spray room, and overspray tends to land everywhere! Drum-roll please!!
Hummmmmm … I must remember to change my calendar!! Top right corner … another reason time seems to fly past all too quickly. A flip of pages and tomorrow February will become April. I might as well wait until May … we’re almost there!!
And speaking of ‘being almost there’ … I am almost finished tonight’s blog! To prevent this well made box from exploding under pressure, various measures are taken … and this simple setup quickly adjusted before each side comes under pressure. Which is a pretty good indication of how square this box really is … don’t you think?!!
Apply glue … make sure the good side is facing up!! … align … tape edges … cover with waxed paper …..
I’m going to leave you all in suspense now!
The next blog will deal with the other 3 panels … that’s if I find those missing photos!! Even now my thoughts are churning over a design for the lid … so there’s another blog. And cabin life is fast approaching!
I can’t get over all the entertaining comments I’ve received from my most devoted followers! It’s wonderful to receive them, read them … and feel your enthusiasm! Thanks again for keeping me company :)
-- Elaine in Duncan