Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Pair of Gilded Curved Top Custom Picture Frames

A friend contacted me recently to make a couple of custom, curved top, gilded picture frames for one of his clients. Sure, no big deal .... We make curved stuff all the time. Well, we did get them done and they came out great, but the effort was a bit more than I bargained for. Making the curved and straight moldings on the CNC and joining them into a frame shape was no problem, but finishing the frames to prepare them for the gilding, welllllll, I had no idea. We did a couple of samples and the gold leaf on the wood shows EVERYTHING!. To get them to look right, all the wood and each mitered joint was stained, sanded, gessoed, sanded, painted, sanded, sealed, polished, sized, gilded, burnished, distressed, top coated and delivered to the frame shop. No wonder the people who do custom gilded frames for a living have to charge so much. I'm sure you get better at it and we certainly picked up a few tips for the next time, but there is just no escaping the amount of perfection necessary to make a gold leafed wooden frame look good.

First step stain, then sand aggressively to show the defects

This shows the corner gold leafed, but before burnishing. The wrinkles and hanging flakes are part of the application process and need to be smoothed out.

The completed small frame with the cardboard template in it.

The corner after burnishing

The big frame ... 66 wide by 48" tall

A Little Woodburning

"Matisse Comes To Visit" 3.5" x 8" on white pine

I'm almost certain you all have had a chance to do a little woodburning at some time in your life. I bought a standard issue plug in model with interchangeable tips for my kids about 15 years ago when they were little and, yeah, they tried it, and they liked it, and it went into the drawer and didn't come out again until about the year 2000. I think I got it out on a Thanksgiving and passed it around with a piece of wood and everybody at the table burned something. It was pretty boring until we got out the watercolors and then, all of a sudden, I was interested. I pick it up from time to time and I guess I've done at least a dozen including some pretty big ones, like 22 x 50 for which I had to make my own tools that I heat in the forge. They're all fun. The ones below are small except for the very bottom one which is about 10 x 18 on vertical grain Douglas fir. That one took a minute. Click to enlarge ...

"The Cubist" 3.5" x 9" on white ash

" Here's Miro !" 3.5 x 10 on white pine

"Dale Chihuly Comes For Dinner" 3.5 x 7" on pine

Tools of the trade ... Watercolors and water soluble Windsor Newton oils

"The Lamp"

This one I did with the forge tools below because it's bigger. And, because it was, I did also a little more planning. I'm not sure if that was good or bad .... or if it made the piece better or worse ...
This one, even though it was bigger, was done in watercolor, the middle picture being from about the middle of the painting process ....
'Moon Over The Mettowee' ... 20 x 45 and
'Cornfields 1' ... 16 x 35
The big, forge heated woodburning tools I made

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

All Over But the Shoutin'

8/20/08 .... Well folks .... It felt like 'back to school' time this morning. The temp was 46 degrees and the light seemed kind of different. Got to work and while I was talking on the phone, I stepped out onto the deck outside my office, looked toward the pond, and there it was ... the dreaded red ..... The end is near ... Seems like kind of a short, wet summer ... I haven't even had a swim yet ....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New Design Project

8/24/08 Below is a quick photoshopped mockup reflecting design changes the client has requested. We have entirely eliminated the lace wood under the bubinga tops and on the door panels, opting instead to consider using big leaf maple burl which is more similar in color and less 'contrasty'. I like the new look and is similar to a piece I did a few years ago, for which we won a national design prize from Custom Woodworking Magazine. We may modify/simplify some of the door and drawer face details later if this is the palette we decide to work with. The doors and drawer faces in the photo below were plucked from the original sideboard image. Click the photo to enlarge it ....

Well, after a month or so of putting this on my to do list, I've finally gotten back to working on this project. It took a rainy Sunday afternoon to give me some uninterrupted time to finish the first scale model 3 photos down. The model is 1/6th scale, +/- 7.5" long, 6.5" high and 4" deep, translating into a full size cabinet 45" x 39" x 24" deep. I also made model pieces for the second cabinet with doors, shown in the drawing below and I hope to assemble that one before another couple of months go by. I would have finished it today but the sun came out around 3;30, a friend called, and we just had time to squeeze in 9 holes before it rained again. Click the pictures to enlarge them.

I wonder if the lacewood door panels are too dark and if maple burl might be better there ... The models have been placed in a 'to scale' cardboard 'room setting' which gives an accurate representation of how the pieces will look when they are installed.

Better I think

Unfinished, without hardware ... cherry base, lacewood under top and a bubinga top

With steel hardware photoshopped in ... The 'step in' just above the cabinet base seems too big and will have to be adjusted when we build the cabinet full size [or maybe when we make the other model.

Original Post from 5/4/08
This project involves designs for the second floor of a Philadelphia +/- 1840 downtown townhouse. The room is at the top of the stairs between a library/tv area and a formal sitting room in the front. The ceilings are high and the space is dramatic. We are currently working with conceptual sketches by a local architect and palette of Bubinga and American Cherry. We're seeking a somewhat contemporary/historical combination with simple but elegant detailing to go with the more formal and traditional feeling of the architecture without feeling reproductionist. (Is that a word?) Anyway, here's what I have so far ... Click photos to enlarge ..

Cabinet interiors

Side Elevation

May 31st ... Revised drawing ... cabinet width increased to 44" ...
center table eliminated for now

My first drawing over the architects renderings ...
Pretty literal

I've increased the width of the pieces ...
maybe a bit too much, Maybe 42-44" would be better ...

Photoshopped in a bubinga half oval
and two cherry cabinets with bubinga tops

Went on to add the artwork ...

Links to other posts on models and mockups below