Sunday, February 19, 2012

the bullseye chestnut mirror

well, yesterday was the opening of our show at the southern vermont arts center ... see the post below ... we had 8 pieces there, plus six of our ladderback chairs ... in the last few years we have participated in shows only on a 'piece here, piece there' basis and this was our first 'solo' show in recent memory ... maybe since the 90's ... since our normal work had to be ongoing to pay the bills, i spent a few recent weekends working on some of the smaller pieces in the show. one of my favorites is this bullseye mirror in reclaimed chestnut. it was partly inspired by the traditional federal round mirror form and i was also influenced by the lines in my 'roomate', marta johansen's drawings. click the photos to enlarge them ... the mirror was an interesting project involving, ( but not necessarily requiring) cnc work, turning large diameter round things, painting and gold leafing ... and then we had to figure out how to display it free standing so as not to compete with marta's drawings on the walls.
i started a couple of weeks ago by cutting two round pieces of 1" mdf on the cnc, gluing them together and then mounting them on my lathe's outboard 8" faceplate. i added a hole in the center and made four flat moldings which i applied to the face before i turned it, turning roughly and quickly just to see how it went. we then took it all the way through the process by adding some latex paint while it was spinning and the goldleaf after that. the result was a lovely contradiction of materials, 'gold leafed mdf '. anyway after constructing a quick floor stand we stuck it in the office and it was a hit ... then, i had to make the real thing.
i started with two mitered squares of 5/4 reclaimed chestnut, and then, by staggering the joints at 45 degrees, glued them together in the veneer bag.i then mounted the blank on a piece of mdf and took it to the cnc to cut the center hole for the mirror and the 22" diameter outside circle. using the same file, i cut a piece of 1" plywood with a centered 8" recess for my faceplate. you could do all this with a jigsaw and/or a circle cutting jig on your bandsaw, but, when you have a cnc, the tendency is to use it.i then cut rabbeted moldings that were 3/4" thick and created the recess for the mirror, which was a 12" 'security' mirror from uline ... love em ... real glass and relatively inexpensivethe moldings were also cut on the cnc with the rabbets up (photo above this one)and then freed from the block by taping the cut face with packing tape and running the blank through the sander till they separated. on to the outboard end of the lathe. since the 1" ply faceplate piece was cut on the cnc it was a simple matter to make a light face cut on the plywood to true it up and then mount the main blank on it, and have at it. i had expected i would have to change to my really slow speed pulley and belt, but the whole thing was true enough to turn at the regular lowest spindle speed, which truly surprised me.. while it was on the lathe, i added some aniline dye and federal blue milk paint, polishing off the high points to leave the paint only in the recesses.
the next day will very carefully taped off the moldings, we figured out the locust firewood base and supports (if you click the photo here, you can see the steel pipe brackets that sam made to accept the polished 3/4" rebar vertical support. that allow the mirror to spin and also allowed us to take it apart to move it to the show. the locust block was completely green and quite heavy.
here are both corner mirrors on their stands, which looked a little garish with the fresh cut yellow locust wood. more on that below ...
will applied the gold size and the next day, he did the leaf. i was in a hurry when i did the original turning; it was a beautiful day; i had a paddle tennis game ... i skipped the milk paint ground coat we always use under the size and there were some 'holidays' where the size had soaked into the mostly bare wood ...
we reapplied the size to the bare spots and touched up the gold leaf the next day
out to the driveway where we toasted and scrubbed both pieces of the raw locust and polished it with a red scotchbrite pad on the dynabrade.it looked pretty cool so we left it
all in, all done ... off to the show ... the room looked great with everything in place and we had a great turnout ...
for closeups of other pieces and more pictures of the work of the other 8 painters (no other furniture makers; i'm flattered) in the show, visit this link
a little more marketing coming up this week with the arrival of our new postcards tomorrow ...

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