Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Couple months ago, we were contacted by a designer in LA to create a deco cabinet inspired by an elevator door in LA.
At first we worked on a trompe-l'oeil concept
Then with the deigner, we upgraded to real volume pilaster with brass rods
Patrick had bought a beautiful american walnut board in the 70's and it was the perfect piece in color and width for this project. It was big enough to make a solid top, solid edges for the doors shelves etc and saw the rest into veneer for the front and sides. Other materials would include spanilla, boxwood, ferréol and ebony sawn veneer, as well as pewter and brass sheet.
I sparyed some alcohol on the veneer to mimic the color of finish
Brass and pewter
Usually we build our furniture out of solid wood but in this case the cabinet was made with high quality birch plywood.
The marquetry elements were cut
The added challenge was that the metal needed to match the patina of other brass elements in the room. to avoid having chemical on the wood we decided to have the elements prefenished and install them later after the sanding. As I cut the elements in supperposition "Boulle" style, I had left over elements that we mounted in the marquetry and kept the final elements that recieved the patina aside.
Then the front marquetry was assembled keeping the walnut background grain flowing throught the all piece, including the kickplate.
The doors and the pilaster were veneered. For the pilaster we used ferréol a dark chocolate color wood on the front and totally black ebony for the side to create more volume.
Then the doors were sanded up to the metal
As we used liquid hide glue, Old Brown Glue, we used the reversibility of the glue to remove the dummy metal elements using heat and moisture. As the glue was still fresh we had only to use heat.
Once the elements removed
The cavity were cleaned
The finished elements could be inserted and glued with fish glue. Fish glue is the best adhesive for glueing metal on wood.
At this point I could not resist to spray some alcohol to have an idea of the overall effect.
The cabinet is glued and the door adjusted
The pilaster glued to the door and the kickplate veneer to fit perfectly the grain of the doors
The top is adjusted to fit the cabinet
The lower pilaster is then glued on the kickplate with liquid hide glue, Old Borwn Glue.
The brass rod can now be fitted in the fluting. We have installed some pegs in them that will be used to glue them to the pliasters.
Now, it is ready to be finished and delivered.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
During the past months I have been working with Luke Addington on a 2 part article on French Polish for the UK magazine "Furniture & Cabinetmaking".
The first part will come out in the July issue.
We have put a lot of efforts to decribe not only the technical aspect but also the sensations and feelings that comes with french polishing.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
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