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Boulle Clock Restoration

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Project by Patricelejeune posted 06-14-2016 07:37 PM 807 views 3 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Boulle Clock Restoration
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18 months ago we started to work on a Boulle clock restoration for a gentleman back east.

We received the clock piece by piece, starting with the top to show the process and what we could do to our client.

First thing was bronzes removal

The lose brass elements where lifted and then, the fish glue in the cavities was rehydrated and removed, and the back of the brass elements were scraped clean.

Missing pieces are drawned by rubbing on a termal fax paper

The missing elements are cut on brass or on pre CITES black backed tortoise shell.

Other pieces are cut

And glued down using sand bags

The cleaning is done with “eau japonaise. I do not like to use it when there is wood elements on the Boulle marquetry, as the acidic content may be to agressive and damage the wood, but in this case it is perfectly fine.

I also discovered the shell was engraved, something I have rarely seen

When eveything was restored, I used suit black to fill the brass engraving

Then the shell was re-engraved, the cavity filled with gold dust and french polished. It can be sometime tricky to french polish on brass ans the difference in temperature can bring condensation and give a milky consistence to the shellac.

The bronzes were cleaned and installed

Our client being happy with the first part, sent us the rest fairly soon after and I started working on those. The based was the first to arrive. It was the most damaged part of the clock and also the hardest to restore considering the curviness of the sides.

But also because of a lot of missing elements and details on a very tight radius part

Like for the other part, I started by removal of the bronzes, lifting of the lose brass elements and cleaning of the cavities and the back of the brass pieces.

Like for the other pieces, I cut the missing elements out of brass and shell. I harvested some of the original horn from hidden under the bronzes for this purpose.

Cleaning and reglueing using sand bags

And Cawl for the rare flat spots

Before and after cleaning the brass

I recreated the missing elements using the little informations and inspiration from the rest of the decorative elements

We ordered some missing finials in France using a picture of a similar clock

While waiting for the bronzes to be cast in France, I put the clock to the black at the same time of a decanter I was working on at the time

Then the shell was re-engraved

And gold dust was laid in the engraving

Then french polish and bronze cleaning

And finally when the finials were received, we put it back together.

The body had a tendency to lean quite a bit to the back, so I added some dicreet washers on the back horses

And substantial ebony wedges on the top

Patrick also made a new top hinge for the door to make it work very well and a new key to fit the lock.

Now, it is ready to ship!

-- Patrice lejeune





17 comments so far

View Luke Addington's profile

Luke Addington

72 posts in 634 days


#1 posted 06-14-2016 07:51 PM

J’aime ça!

-- Luke, http://www.AddingtonFurniture.com

View TobiasZA's profile

TobiasZA

153 posts in 1005 days


#2 posted 06-14-2016 08:17 PM

Utterly exquisite Patrice. Truly remarkable and painstaking work by the hands of two masters of the art.
Thank you deeply for sharing these images.

View Julian's profile

Julian

1038 posts in 2156 days


#3 posted 06-14-2016 08:30 PM

That is amazing work.

-- Julian

View Sodabowski's profile

Sodabowski

2308 posts in 2299 days


#4 posted 06-14-2016 08:36 PM

After spending a full month with the museum restorers here in Paris, I can really appreciate the huge amount of work you put into this historical piece. The result is awesome!

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

6475 posts in 2064 days


#5 posted 06-14-2016 09:04 PM

Whoa! glad I am not getting the bill for this one. That is an amazing job.

View Longcase's profile

Longcase

67 posts in 913 days


#6 posted 06-14-2016 09:31 PM

Outstanding work, Patrice, looks beautiful.
Keith

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

1758 posts in 529 days


#7 posted 06-14-2016 09:39 PM

People, people. We’re rubbing elbows with giants.

-- Mark

View Patricelejeune's profile

Patricelejeune

364 posts in 1386 days


#8 posted 06-14-2016 09:52 PM

Thanks guys. @Mark Wilson, only 6 feet and getting older. @Sodabowski, What was the main thing you learned with the museum resotrer? @Luke Addington, Je suis content quand ça se termine!

-- Patrice lejeune

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

7174 posts in 2264 days


#9 posted 06-15-2016 01:32 AM

Just a fine piece of work Patrice. The owner was fortunate to find you and Patrick whatever it cost.
Your patience, skill, and attention to detail are not matched by many in this day.
Congratulations!

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

3139 posts in 3178 days


#10 posted 06-15-2016 02:23 AM

Patrice,

You and Patrick are rare indeed! We are totally amazed at your abilities and knowledge to restore such a damaged, but intricate piece. Thank you so much for sharing.

Now, we’ll try to restore our clock. If we’re not successful, could you change the battery for us? LOL

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View smitdog's profile

smitdog

229 posts in 1571 days


#11 posted 06-15-2016 01:19 PM

I would have thought “IMPOSSIBLE!” but your skill and patience proved that it was! What a splendid documentation of your process, it was a joy to read through. And the finished piece, even on screen, looks astounding but I bet it pales in comparison to seeing it in person. What a lucky owner to have found you!

-- Jarrett - Mount Vernon, Ohio

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23189 posts in 2333 days


#12 posted 06-15-2016 06:21 PM

Patrice, your work is absolutely amazing. I can’t imagine the skill, craftsmanship, and knowledge that is required for this type of work. It is just such an extraordinary piece of work. I can’t imagine what is involved in working with this sort of intricate and delicate details. And, BTW, you have made a beautiful presentation of the project as well.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View prometej065's profile

prometej065

335 posts in 3149 days


#13 posted 06-16-2016 12:44 AM

Yes, so do masters of their craft. Congratulations!

-- http://prometheus065.blogspot.com/

View Brit's profile

Brit

6733 posts in 2309 days


#14 posted 06-18-2016 10:27 PM

Words fail me. Astounding skill and patience. Thank you for sharing it.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View Sasha's profile

Sasha

615 posts in 679 days


#15 posted 06-20-2016 04:59 PM

WOW, I take off a hat…......... I see clever fingers, huge patience and Wonderful work….................. I hope the customer adequately I have paid.

-- Ganchik Sasha

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