Well, I started today off with a bang. Literally. I barely had the sleep out of my eyes and a couple of sips of coffee in my body and I began finish sanding the set of ornaments I was working on. I accidentally caught the corner of the sand paper on a holly leaf and it broke off. I went to the freezer to get my cyanoacrylate glue and I had a not so nice surprise.
It seemed that yesterday I was pretty hot and pretty busy and I had put a can of Diet Coke in the freezer “just for a minute” to get it cold quickly. Needless to say, I forgot and it had exploded all over the inside of my freezer. Yuckky! Since it was frozen and the mess wasn’t going to get any worse, I figured I would wait until I woke up a bit more to deal with it and proceeded to get on with my repair.
I finished gluing up the spot and then applied oil to all ten of the ornaments, as I had sanded them all down last night. I love working with mineral oil for many reasons. I used 600 grit sand paper to rub the oil into the wood after quickly dipping them into a shallow dish of it. It looks so pretty – especially on the cherry I used for the ornaments. It really made them come to life.
This is the first time I used the dipping process for applying oil. Many people do, but a lot of my things are simply too large. But these ornaments are quite intricate and delicate in some parts and I didn’t want to risk breaking any more of the pieces by using a brush to try to get into all the corners. I quickly dipped each one and then placed it on a paper towel to drain and then very gently with the 600 grit paper sanded them for a few minutes. The color really intensified and looked beautiful.
I had heard from a friend that he used to use a salad spinner to remove the excess oil from delicate ornaments such as these. I am curious as to how it would work and I think the next time I am in town I will pick one up to try it. Even though the oil was pretty thick on them, it quickly absorbed into each one and I wonder if the spinner would even be necessary. It is nice that most of the modern scroll saws (along with the great blades available) leave a nice and polished edge on the pieces, eliminating the need for an sanding of the edges at all. The harder the wood, the nicer the edge it seems.
I also use reverse-tooth blades almost exclusively. With the reverse tooth blades, the bottom inch or so of the blade has the teeth placed facing upward, which greatly reduces the tear out you get on the back of the piece. This is quite important to anyone who is doing any type of detail work at all, as it really cuts down on the sanding and reduces the risk of breaking delicate pieces. You can see the benefit when making items such as these ornaments, where both sides need to be polished and finished.
I stack cut the ornaments with one layer of 1/8” cherry and one layer of 1/8” Baltic birch. I haven’t yet finished the birch ones, but I think I will spray paint them white and then apply a gold wash and also a light stain on the holly and berries. Just to see. It is actually better when cutting thin wood such as this to stack them a couple of layers high. You not only get double the mileage of your cutting time, but it also gives you more control, as cutting through one thin layer even with a 2/0 blade (the smallest I use and the one I used here) is very aggressive and it go through like butter. I find a little resistance is far better and lets you go exactly where you need to when cutting.
There are ten ornaments in the set (each measures about 3.5” at the longest part):
|From SLD325 Musical Instrument Ornaments|
And the other five:
|From SLD325 Musical Instrument Ornaments|
The pictures aren’t great, but I think I will retake them when the light changes. The color of the ornaments is really much richer than shown, but it just wasn’t the proper light for taking them I guess. In addition, my camera battery was on its last breath and I kept trying a few and throwing the battery back into the charger for a couple of minutes and then trying again. I don’t think I am supposed to do that, but I won’t tell if you won’t. I was just getting where I wanted to in trying different settings on the camera and it would just die. :( I did take the opportunity to clean the freezer out while waiting for it to charge once and apparently that took long enough and I did get these. But I am going to give it time to fully charge and try again for better pictures before I put them in my gallery.
I have seen scrolled musical instrument ornaments before, but they were very plain and not very pretty. I guess the trickiest part of drawing these up was being able to show the details without having pieces fall off. The technique for this type of cutting is called “veining” when you use the blade like a pen and “draw” the details in. Of course, you need to asses each area and have breaks in the lines so that the pieces are sturdy and can hold on. This is particularly challenging in places like the holly or where the bows are. You need the breaks in there, but you want to place them so they aren’t noticeable and your eye fills in the breaks without you even thinking about them. It is easier to put overlay pieces (another layer of wood) for details, but I don’t think you get the same effect. With ornaments this size, I think they would look clunky and not as delicate. So I took my time and really tried to make them attractive.
So today I will be playing around with the birch set. I will have to see how they work and what options I can give. I have some gold leaf that I have been wanting to play with and I may try to see if I can work with that. I also have some other effect paints and may want to give them go too. I have a paint that crackles, but I don’t know if it will work on something like this because they are so small the the details will be lost if i use something too thick. I guess the only way to find out for sure is to try.
I hope you all like them. It was a good effort for the week I think. And although it doesn’t shake the Earth design-wise, I think that they are nice enough for people to want to do.
Have a great day and make some sawdust! :)
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"