Watercolor Dye Technique #4: Toscana, My most intricate dye job to date

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 08-24-2013 06:28 AM 3041 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Tips and Tricks I've Learned Part 4 of Watercolor Dye Technique series Part 5: Toscana, cutting and assembly »

I have done a few dye projects since the last post to this blog but they have been small and not very noteworthy. I did however learn from them and have decided to try something a whole lot more intricate than I’ve attempted before.

The story begins with new granite countertops for our kitchen and my wife’s request for a bit of marquetry for a feature area in the new backsplash. She tried my Chianti tray there and likes it but it’s a little too small.

She liked the Italian theme but said she would like more of a landscape so off I went to search Google images. This lovely bit of rural Toscana is actually about a rental property near Gaiole in Chianti, a place we have stayed in the past so it became the centerpiece that I would build the picture around.

Next I found a generic grapevine graphic that I could work with …....

...and made a quick sketch.

Then I imported the sketch to Inkscape and came up with a cutting pattern.

As you can see it is quite large to cut on the chevalet with a saw frame only 18” deep. It hardly looks cutable but with a little ingenuity and a few different start holes it was finally cut down into pieces that could be handled more easily.

With the cutting well underway, this is a good time to break off. Next up will be finishing the cutting and assembling the monochrome marquetry. This whole picture will be from one (jointed) piece of 1/16” maple. All color will be added by “watercolor dyeing”.

Thanks for coming along on the ride. I’m having lots of fun with this and it presents all kinds of probl …. er … opportunities so it should be fun.
Questions, comments critiques
as always are welcome.


-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

15 comments so far

View stefang's profile


15696 posts in 3203 days

#1 posted 08-24-2013 08:52 AM

I like the way you made the landscape manageable with the arch Paul. I will be watching closely to see how you do the dye work and the results. Judging by your past work, it will be beautiful. I can’t wait to get started with marquetry again with summer coming to an end and with all of our house and garden work done. It still may take awhile as I have to make a few improvements to my shop first.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Schwieb's profile


1849 posts in 3330 days

#2 posted 08-24-2013 09:53 AM

I’ll be following this with great interest, Paul.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 2887 days

#3 posted 08-24-2013 01:01 PM

Looks wonderful, I like the scenery!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View rance's profile


4255 posts in 3029 days

#4 posted 08-24-2013 02:12 PM

Paul, the artistry with how you merged the items is supurb. So what do you think of Inkscape? I’m thinking of using it for some design work. Is it easy to learn? Any drawbacks to it? Can it export to DXF? Thanks in advance for any info. you could provide.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3177 days

#5 posted 08-24-2013 02:41 PM

As always, your ideas and work are amazing and impressive. It was a smart idea to cut it down into easier to manage pieces.

View a1Jim's profile


116804 posts in 3446 days

#6 posted 08-24-2013 04:22 PM

I’m always so impressed with all of your work Paul it’s great of you to always share you work and techniques with us.

-- Custom furniture

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

9979 posts in 3921 days

#7 posted 08-24-2013 04:44 PM

WOW, Paul,

You’re sure taking a BIG bite this time!

That’s a HUGE piece to be moving around in your Chevrolet cutting machine!

I can’t quite see how it’s developing yet… BUT, I’, sure I will as you progress…

Thank you for taking the time to do this…

You are just AWESOME and it’s always a great pleasure watching you go through a project & into NEW terrirtory.

Thanks again.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View tinnman65's profile


1349 posts in 3283 days

#8 posted 08-25-2013 01:45 AM

Looks like a pretty ambitious project Paul but it seems you have it well in hand. I look forward to see how you do the dyeing process.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2408 days

#9 posted 08-25-2013 02:43 AM

Paul, I’m very impressed with how far you’ve come with the marquetry and you keep crankin’ them out! Can’t wait to see ‘em dyed.

-- I never finish anyth

View kiefer's profile


5618 posts in 2536 days

#10 posted 08-25-2013 11:36 AM

You hit a soft spot and I will be watching this one with great anticipation .
I framed some prints of Tuscany for a young lady some time ago and just fell in love with this place and it’s beauty ,hope to visit some day .

-- Kiefer

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

9901 posts in 3297 days

#11 posted 08-25-2013 11:50 AM


-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Roger's profile


20891 posts in 2673 days

#12 posted 08-25-2013 12:44 PM

You are just an incredible craftsman, and, artisan Paul. WowZa!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View shipwright's profile


7847 posts in 2667 days

#13 posted 08-25-2013 04:51 PM

Thanks everyone,

Rance, I like Inkscape for the things I do. It is flexible and quite easy to learn but I don’t have enough experience with other programs to give a good review one way or the other. As for DXF ….. you’re over my depth on that one :-)

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View peteg's profile


4210 posts in 2692 days

#14 posted 08-25-2013 10:56 PM

I hate it when you tease us Paul with WIP shots for a piece like this :)
Can’t wait to see this finish line, fabulous design

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2343 days

#15 posted 08-27-2013 01:51 AM

I don’t think this is real. Your ‘photos’ are obviously staged! I have never seen a shop that clean and tidy before. Come on, tell us… green screen?

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