Intarsia Wedding Gift

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Blog entry by justoneofme posted 03-25-2012 06:26 AM 4345 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well … after many hours, compiled into weeks, I’m back with the continuation of this Intarsia Mirror Frame Wedding Gift. My last blog left off with all the many intricate parts cut on my Excalibur scroll saw, waiting for this next stage.

Rough shaping of leaves and dogwood petals began.

When long fingernails just aren’t enough, sticking a small square of double faced sticky sponge to the end of a dowel certainly helps pick those stubborn little pieces out from their tight spaces!

Of course, here’s the reason why I sometimes don’t have long fingernails!! This sanding belt looks pretty worn out, but it’s actually perfect for doing the rough shaping. Only a delicate touch is needed, but definitely a firm hold is necessary!

Surprisingly, I’ve never had a small piece fly away on me … until now! It was flung so quickly I couldn’t tell where … and it’s yet to be found! After that I immediately erected a bed sheet ‘safety net’ to catch any other little pieces should they be flung far and wide! Fortunately I only had to recut that one missing piece. Now, when I wander over to that area of my workshop, I find myself glancing around … still searching! Below is the empty space that needs to be filled with a newly cut piece.

The new piece ... cut, roughly shaped and inserted …

And my quick solution to future strays!! It did little to enhance my workshop, but I wasn’t about to loose another piece to dust bunnies hiding in far dark corners. I’m frustrated over not being able to find that one little piece!!!

Remember that hole in the cedar, that I didn’t notice until too late while transferring the design? ... and how it wasn’t going to intimidate me?! Well there’s the fix, off to the left side. An extension to the existing branch was incorporated into the design, and my favourite fix-all was applied. I just love Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty!! As I’ll be painting all the many parts of this design, it’s a perfect fix.

My Dremel tool with flexible shaft helps to shape and sand all those hard to reach places … I have three of them (but only one with the flex-shaft) set up to do various tasks. All the branches got a liberal dose of Dremel shaping with the idea of keeping them rough looking … like branches, eh?!

When the rough shaping has been completed, then comes the slow and tedious hand sanding and final shaping … and while doing that, I like to start into the elevation. Depending upon what is needed within each design, I use all manner of thicknesses to achieve the desired effect. In this particular design there was no need for radical elevation, and so my thickest medium was doorskin … to elevate the birdhouse and two of the Dogwood blossoms. The majority of Dogwood petals and leaves, as well as the bird itself were elevated using a pre-glued double thickness of walnut veneer. This photo shows the doubled layer of walnut in two sections along the underside of the branch … with a length of toothpick further down. Believe it or not, toothpicks are great for this purpose, where Intarsia parts are really skinny!

Tricky elevation around the bird … this can ‘make or break’ the whole design! There’s nothing worse than after the fact, having a visual of this little feathered friend falling out of the picture when he’s supposed to be at rest … in the background!! Sometimes perspective is not always as easy as it may look!
Notice the piece of doorskin laying over top of the one flower. That will be placed underneath and glued to the backboard at the proper time … however, some of the petals/leaves will have their own elevation added as well. Doorskin has already been placed beneath the flower and leaves in front of the bird.

This is a quick and effective way to cut TINY pieces without loosing them through the table slot … even though I have to admit to being lazy! One of the first things I did to change my Excalibur scroll saw was to glue a piece of arborite to cover the entire table surface … leaving one rectangular section applied with double stick tape to the blade area for easy replacement. A thin kerf was cut from the back of that section to the point of blade entry, then pressed into place, leaving absolutely no space for small pieces to drop through. Of course, over time and much use, the blade area does enlarge enough to warrant replacing. It’s really a simple matter to pry up the rectangular section and start fresh … well, at least good in theory! I’ve been too lazy to insert a new piece of arborite, and this wasn’t a good time to drop everything. I was on a roll, with only this one cut left to perform! ... and so, this lazy gal’s solution!!

Ah! After many long hours my design is ‘happening’! Throughout this whole process of final shaping, sanding and elevation, each piece was repositioned on top of the original design … in my spray room out of harm’s way!

Having a hard time reading the message? From Designing to this stage … 86 1/4 hours Cutting/Shaping/Elevation totalled 50 1/4 of those hours. Have I counted all those bits and pieces?? ... NO! I usually wait until the project is totally completed!!

Now that the design has been squared up, giving me exact measurements ... I need to apply thought and action toward preparing the backboard for this project. As this is my first Intarsia mirror, I’m fairly sure of my approach. But not being a carpenter, I waffle over frames and such. I guess you’ll have to wait for the next blog, to see if what I have in mind works out … or whether I’ve broken down in tears!! Stick around … I may need some Lumberjock shoulders to cry on!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

9 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3195 days

#1 posted 03-25-2012 07:18 AM

Very ambitious project and coming along beautifully.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4160 days

#2 posted 03-25-2012 11:04 AM

It looks like it’s going to be beautiful! And it looks like a lot of dedicated craftsmanship was required. I’ll watch for the finished project.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View shipwright's profile


8621 posts in 3721 days

#3 posted 03-25-2012 04:14 PM

Looking really good Elaine.
You have such a fine artist’s eye for this.
Can’t wait to see the finished product.

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4257 days

#4 posted 03-25-2012 05:26 PM

This is a wonderful design Elaine and the work is done so well too. Some lucky bride and groom are going to be extremely happy with a wedding gift like this! Your blog was also very well done. I found it very interesting and enjoyable to read. I hope you will be also blogging the coloring part. I can’t wait to see the finished product. If you are worried about the frame you could always have a picture framer come up with something appropriate.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3941 days

#5 posted 03-25-2012 05:57 PM

I’ll wager the piece ricocheted into the opposite corner, so look over there? Anyhow you made a replacement so don’t worry about finding it, just sweep the floor! Your piece is very beautiful and you put a lot of time into it, must be for dear friends!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3590 posts in 4635 days

#6 posted 03-26-2012 05:33 AM


I can’t begin to imagine the patience this requires. Your picture is really “coming alive” already. It should be sensational with the color.


-- “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 justoneofme's profile


841 posts in 3403 days

#7 posted 03-27-2012 06:28 AM

Thank you dear friends for the wonderful comments! There is a very special reason for this particular project. It is a wedding gift for our older daughter and hubby to be … they tie the knot in August!

I am enjoying blogging, as much as it appears you all enjoy reading and seeing this project unfold! And yes … I will follow through to the end, so there will be color to see!

Many years ago, as a member of the Marquetry Society of America, I would send write-ups of various projects tackled, to be printed in their newsletters … long before this era of emails, blogs, and web pages. This much slower form of communication was the only communication I had with fellow Marquetarians! It was a very sad day when their newsletters came to an end due to the aging factor within their Society. But now, with much thanks to Paul and his patience while introducing Lumberjocks, and guiding me through this wide open and exciting channel of communication … I feel as though I have found long lost friends!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4257 days

#8 posted 03-27-2012 08:04 AM

Yes, you have come to a good place Elaine. I can guarantee that your work will be much appreciated on this site. I also have a very nice Excalibur scroll saw which so far as been grossly underused. Paul’s work and now yours is inspiring for me and I plan to give marquetry a try, and after seeing yours and others excellent intarsia work on LJ, I probably give that a try as well. I believe you will find inspiration her too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1615 posts in 4481 days

#9 posted 03-28-2012 02:41 AM

That is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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