Boulle Clock Restoration #2: Almost done

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Blog entry by Patricelejeune posted 03-24-2016 11:53 PM 2283 reads 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Top restoration Part 2 of Boulle Clock Restoration series Part 3: Ready to ship »

It has been a while since I posted anything as a friend reminded me couple days ago. So I thought I would do an update on couple projects I have been working on.

On an earlier post I had shown the start of a restoration on a Boulle clock.

We had restored the top part,

since I have been working on the 2 lower elements. I did not took a lot of picture of the restoration of the middle section

But I documented better the restoration of the lower section that was particularly damaged.

A lot of lifted elements

A quite a bit of missing brass

The last pictures shows the most difficult part to repair. There is very little indications left of the original design and it is on a tight radius surface.

First order of business is to remove the bronzes.

Lift the elements that wants to lift and rehydrate the glue for a deep cleaning.

Rubbing of the missing elements on thermal fax paper

The brass and the cavity needs to be cleaned.

Then missing elements are cut. The shell elements are cut on a CITES pre-banned shell with a black paper and black fish glue backing

The curved surface are always the fun one to glue. For some of the shape I used a compressed foam and on other sand bags. I screwed a piece of wood under the table with angled notches to get a good grip at different angles.

The front part of the lower element had not a lot of informations regarding all the missing top elements as I said earlier, but by adding the informations from each side and looking at the style of decoration throughout the clock, I was able to extrapolate a convincing design.

This picture was taken after engraving the elements

And during the pore filling which fills up the kerf marks and the engraving with black, “noir de fumée”, pigments.

Currently I am finishing the pore-filling on some elements of the clock as well as a Boulle decanter I have been working on, I will post later on this project, and soon the french polish is going to start, cleaning of the bronzes etc… But that will be for next time.

-- Patrice lejeune

14 comments so far

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2938 posts in 2183 days

#1 posted 03-25-2016 12:33 AM

Patrice, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be rubbing elbows with giants like you and Patrick.
Are you ever nervous about such a project? How old is the clock? Is it a museum piece?

-- Mark

View shipwright's profile


8728 posts in 3917 days

#2 posted 03-25-2016 01:09 AM

You do nice work buddy. :-)

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View tomd's profile


2222 posts in 4890 days

#3 posted 03-25-2016 01:46 AM

That is quite a project to take on. Great work.

-- Tom D

View Redoak49's profile


5274 posts in 3108 days

#4 posted 03-25-2016 01:53 AM

Fascinating and unbelievable work…such talent and patience.

View Julian's profile


1637 posts in 3810 days

#5 posted 03-25-2016 03:06 AM

You are an incredible artisan and part magician. It’s hard to imagine how much detailed work you have done. Wow.

-- Julian

View Sodabowski's profile


2400 posts in 3952 days

#6 posted 03-25-2016 09:41 AM

I’m at a loss of words already! Your reconstituted elements are indeed very convincing!

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View Luke Addington's profile

Luke Addington

80 posts in 2288 days

#7 posted 03-25-2016 03:24 PM

Really awesome

-- Luke,

View Patricelejeune's profile


386 posts in 3040 days

#8 posted 03-25-2016 06:07 PM

Thanks guys. This clock is part of the Boulle revival around 1860. It is not a museum piece per se, the bronzes are not great and the marquetry is good but the engraving is not in the higher quality just average. But it is an antique and I am always glad when client spend the money just because they like the piece and not looking at if they spend half the value of the object in restoration.
We sometime are nervous but mainly with Boulle we know we will always spend more time that what we can bill for the restoration. You have to tame it. It is usually a very frustrating job, but like with all frustrating job, at the end success brings more happiness.

-- Patrice lejeune

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3655 posts in 4832 days

#9 posted 03-26-2016 02:41 AM


Your work is truly outstanding! The transformation is really amazing.

If you ever decided to waste your time working on a jigsaw puzzle, you could probably finish it before we could blink our eyes!


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Patricelejeune's profile


386 posts in 3040 days

#10 posted 03-28-2016 04:42 PM


I do like jigsaw puzzle. We actually do puzzle nights once in a while with a fellow marquetry student.

-- Patrice lejeune

View madburg's profile


335 posts in 1962 days

#11 posted 04-04-2016 03:59 AM

Thanks for the insights into the restoration. Still looks pretty good for average boulle work.

-- Madburg WA

View Patricelejeune's profile


386 posts in 3040 days

#12 posted 04-04-2016 04:20 PM

Average does not mean it is not good. In the scale of pieces produced in this period when they started to make a lot of those Boulle revival pieces, being average is means it’s pretty good. Not super good or exceptional , but neither bad or really crappy or worse, fake mastic shell.
The problem we face with Boulle marquetry pieces is that they cost so much to restore that a lot of them will just desapear because of the restoration cost. And a Boulle marquetry that start to fail needs immediate repair or will get worse real fast. This one is so lucky to have a loving owner and will survive to become a more valuable antique in the future.

-- Patrice lejeune

View Hammerthumb's profile


3096 posts in 3095 days

#13 posted 04-20-2016 09:00 PM

Again, another remarkable restoration Patrice. You always impress me!

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4615 posts in 4228 days

#14 posted 04-21-2016 02:27 AM

This kind of work makes my mouth water, just looking at it. Such beauty.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

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