I have been told, do a blog.
I will try.
Try to post as often as I am able to and answer your comments

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Treasure Box III - Post #5: Chêne de Tronçais - Tronçais' Oa

I have been working more on the Treasure Boxes than on the blog…
I could cut down the blog and fast forward to now, closer to the end, but I understand some of you like the step by step appoach.
One of the reason I have not been updating our progress as much as usual, and I am usually not great at it anyway, is that the first box was ordered 11 months ago, on drawing alone. It was bought by the wife of one of our best client for a big birthday, one with a brand new zero in it. The down side was that we had only 9 months to bring one of the 4 boxes to a presentation stage for the big date.
It is a small series so we worked on the 4 of them as much as possible and focused on the first one in the last couple months to bring it to presentation. We usually take 2 years to complete a series of 4 boxes, with all the other work and the fact that this box is the most comlplicated one we made so far, iit has been quite a challenging and very busy year.
One way we saved on time was with the carcass. On the previous 2 boxes we used european beech, one of the best wood we have access to, here, in San Diego, but we wanted to upgrade for something special and as Patrick was really busy working on a 14 foot dining room table, we contacted our friend Florian Bourgine in France.
He proposed to use Tronçais oak for the carcasse, a great white oak to work with.

Tronçais is a forest in Allier, France, that has had areas protected since the 17th century. A lot of the French oak forest where created by Colbert in 1670 when he bacame minister to Louis the XIVth. He ordered 2,5 million acres to be planted in order to become the first naval country and avoid the prediction of shortage of old growth tall oak for boat building by the year 2000. Talk about long term politics.
Today, in Tronçais, there is still a protected area of about 9000 acres with some trees closing to 500 years old.
Florian Bourgine had easy access to that great wood and I knew his quality as a woodworker, so we asked him to help us, in our need of hurry and quality in equal measure, by cutting and preparing as much as possible of the wood before hand.
Dimensions and type of joinery wanted.

(photos by Florian Bourgine)

Ready to ship.

While in the meantime I was working on the marquetry panels.
-- Patrice lejeune

Treasure Box III - Post #4: Cutting Marquetry

So with a bit of tardiness here is an “account” on cutting the marquetry panels our Treasure Box III
As you know, I now do my marquetry in LA with a reduced but sweet set up.

On a piece by piece project the drawing is paramount to the final quality of your marquetry. No change can be made afterwards so I usually work my drawing until Patrick and Kristen pry me away from it.
Once this first stage is complete. We usualy have a good idea of what wood will be used where but there is always a bit of change and it is fixed at that moment. Each number correspond to a wood. We currently have a palette of more than 50 different woods and colors in sawn veneer.

There is always a possibility of change by re-cutting the pieces if you are not happy with the colors, but it is a waste of wood and time.
The pieces are cut on paper first and placed in an exploded view

I leave enough space around the papers for easy handling

On projects with a lot of pieces I cut one side at a time.
Here is the tray for one of the sides

Each piece is transfered in a numbered square following the guide.
Then the pieces of paper are glued to the corresponding veneer packet. Each of our pack are 4 layer thick, so we will end up with 4 boxes.

The pieces are cut on the chevalet.

Ans are laid on a tray

Some of them are really small

Some are pretty intricate

Some need a particular attention to accuracy so they nest nicely into each other

The process is repeated for each panel.

The trays fill up

At this point I check the pieces that I marked as possilby not good enough while cutting and decide which needs to be recut.

Once all the pieces are cut and approved, it is time for sand shading.

I have been using gas and actually found it better than electric plate.

On traditional marquetry, I like to give to each piece a bit of shading. It gives volume.

Once all the shading is done it is time to cut the backgrounds, one at a time.

The picture is build face down on paper Using hot hide glue

For those backgrounds, there is a lot of “islands” isolated between pieces. We use bridges to keep them pefectly located.
Those bridges are removed as we go.

Here are, prior to mastic, the 2 sides

The front

And the top

Here we go for the marquetry!
-- Patrice lejeune

Treasure Box III - Post #3: New Marquetry Workshop

One of the reason it has been difficult to keep this blog updated is that my life has slightly changed in the past months.
My wife is now manager of a 19th century french painting gallery in LA.
For years she has been living between LA and San Diego for her research and work, we have to switch and I am now the traveling spouse.
For this reason one part of the workshop that I can easily bring with me is the marquetry workshop. I had my chevalet in my first apartment living room in France, it is the case again.
We have been lucky to find a small guest house with a large enough living space so that I can use a corner of it without any problem , and the light is great. I can also do my shading outdoor which is a great option, as per usual, I ended up doing the shading during a heatwave.

So I can now draw in LA, do my prep work in San Diego, assemble packs etc

I have got a nice light to cut and a good coffee machine.

Shade and assemble in LA also

Then the marquetry can be brought glued on paper just kept under clamp to San Diego, where Gigi can take possession of them for quality control.

So overall it works!