Merlot Anyone?! - The Marquetry Wine Box Saga #10: Merlot Anyone?! - The Marquetry Wine Box Saga

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Blog entry by justoneofme posted 04-28-2013 07:52 AM 2742 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Merlot Anyone?! - The Marquetry Wine Box Saga Part 10 of Merlot Anyone?! - The Marquetry Wine Box Saga series Part 11: Merlot Anyone?! - The Marquetry Wine Box Saga »

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a wonderful time filled with family, visitations, luncheons and dinners … all in celebration of my Dad’s 93rd Birthday!! But now our company has gone back home … the dust has settled … and I’ve finally returned to some serious time in the workshop.

Finishing off Nouveau Gal’s hair means this main front panel for my wine box is complete!

At the same time Nouveau Lady got her hairdo done too … so I could work on both in preparation for gluing to their respective substructures.

Of course, this is the neat and tidy version you get to see! … the front of this design was totally covered with low-tac masking tape, then flipped over to remove all the bits and pieces of tape that had been keeping things all together up to this point.

With the front tape firmly finger-pressed down on the front side, a stiff brush is used to scrub the back side of the picture to remove all clinging silica sand from the cut lines. There’s nothing worse (after the fact) than to see a little white spot of sand marring an otherwise clean dark line of filler!! What do they say about “an ounce of prevention” ?!!

Now I do have to stress another important factor when working Marquetry. You always have two sides to choose from!! With the Window Method of cutting, I prefer to keep the side I’ve been working upon as what will become my finished side. But … I could easily have chosen to reverse this design. Nouveau Gal would have looked good either way. However …............

This is my very old wine box that will soon make the trip to cabin life! Yes … I like Nouveau Gals!! … Art Nouveau in general. Actually I cheated quite a bit on this one with the use of indelible outlining, and drawing in her face and fingers. Either I didn’t feel capable of going the whole 9 yards with the use of more intricate cutting … or I was pressed for time. I’ll go for the latter, with the idea that I was in a rush to pour myself that first glass of Merlot from my Marquetry Wine Box!!

Whatever the decision … reverse side or the front that’s been seen throughout working … the choice is yours to make before applying filler! Just remember … the (protective) masking tape covers the good side of the design. This particular knowledge will come in handy for me to remember when the other 3 panels of this wine box design are ready for filler!!

As you can see in this picture I’m set to begin mixing my filler … I use Weldbond glue. It’s white, but dries clear. Therefore it will not weaken the enhancement of colour added. My pigment is simply powder tempera … the stuff kids love to do finger painting with! There is absolutely no reaction once lacquers are applied.

Many years ago, through a discouraging amount of trial and error, I finally found this powder to be the answer. Trust me on this … because I don’t want you to go through what I went through. Pigmentation blooming and spreading from filled lines once an application of lacquer hits it, is not a pretty sight … nor an easy fix!!!

Okay … so the glue … the powdered colour (black for this purpose) ... and lastly the ingredient that helps to form an easy-to-spread paste … sawdust. I collect the dust from my scroll saw and strain it through a tea strainer so that only the finest particles are used in the making of this filler.

The filler is pressed into all the cut lines … accent lines … and gaps!! of which there are plenty, using a painters palette-knife. They vary in shapes and sizes, but the best I’ve found are shorter (a bit thicker) and are strong enough for pushing filler in, and scraping excess off. Because this mixture is wet, you want the veneers to remain flat while working the goop in. Waxed paper under a bit of light weight is sufficient during this process.

When the whole back side of the design is filled, it’s covered with a layer of waxed paper and place it under heavier pressure. I don’t want the extreme pressure of a press … just a few heavy books, slabs of wood or a concrete block will do. The idea is to keep the design flat while the filler dries … which I usually let stand over night. Extreme pressure would make the protective tape harder to remove, and possibly tear out grain in the process.

When the filler is completely dry, it’s time to scrape the remaining excess to smooth the back surface. I use a combination of paint scraper and straight razor blades to achieve this. It’s not hard work … but time consuming because in some cases a second layer of filler is needed. For instance, although I tried hard to keep to the same thickness of veneers … the veneer for the centre of each flower was thinner than the surrounding petals. So that second layer of filler bumped it up to the level of the petals.

In addition to that second patched layer of filler, there were numerous small areas that were either missed or filler had pulled out while scraping. Seen through the light of a window is enough to show where those small areas can be quickly filled … I’ve helped you find them all by circling over the tape. If you’ve found more gaps than what I’ve circled, well … sorry … it’s too late!

While the filler was in ‘drying mode’ I was busy preparing the other 3 panels …........

Here you see the background sections minus their motifs. The design, transferred via carbon paper, onto the taped areas designated.

Well! I seem to have misplaced a few photos!! Oh well, I’ll find them … but in the meantime … back to Nouveau Gal ….......

Okay … up close, this doesn’t look too pretty!

With the filler totally dry, the protective tape is removed from the front … and it really is quite neat how ’all-together and flexible’ this thin design has become. Look Ma … no tape!! However some of the filler has leaked through to the good side. Some can be dealt with right now … with the rest cleaned up after it’s been glued in place.

Using the Exacto knife chisel blade, I can quickly remove much of the excess. Bonus … the glue in the filler mix actually prevents pigment from penetrating into the raw veneer! What doesn’t look all that great right now … won’t even be noticeable later!

I know I’m all over the place … but … Nouveau Lady needed all this attention as well after being cut into a background of Walnut Burl. The following few photos tells her story!

Check out her hair-do!! With a piece of doorskin prepared with rolled-on Weldbond glue, Nouveau Lady was set in place then covered with a protective layer of waxed paper and ….......

........... put into the press. Now, this is what I call extreme pressure!!

The glue gives approximately 10 minutes grace should anything go wrong. I just happen to know that little tidbit of information! ... and that the veneer face can be carefully lifted with the aid of much larger palette knives.

Many years ago … with brain totally disengaged … I went through the process of applying glue, placing the veneer design … good side down! … on its mounting board, covering with waxed paper and taping edges to prevent slippage. It wasn’t until I was starting to clamp down onto the surface that my brain thankfully engaged in time to notice my dumb move … and the rush was on to carefully remove it without causing further damage!!

In that particular case, I just stuck the design under light pressure until the glue (on it’s good surface) had dried … scraped to remove the rough excess, then glued it up properly. Because this glue dries clear, and nothing had to be stained afterwards, everything worked out. But I’ll never forget that flutter of panic experienced over almost ruining weeks of work!!

Ah! There’s the pretty lady!! Using the same scraping tools, I go over the surface lightly. Having to go in every direction following the various grain patterns means careful attention must be applied to prevent grains from pulling out.

Now that Nouveau Lady is to this stage, I’ll tuck her away for the time being. I’m hoping to make an Intarsia frame for this one … and also hoping I can have it ready for that Very-Special-Teenage-Birthday coming up!

Back to Nouveau Gal … she’s ready to glue onto the wine box base.

You would have had a hard time controlling your laughter if I had blogged about building this basic box… so I saved myself that embarrassment!! At least it’s square … well … almost!

Anyway, I dragged my hide-glue and coffee-perk-heater out from the dungeon … just to prove to Paul (aka Shipwright) that I do use the stuff every now and then!! I glued strips of Rosewood veneer along the top edge of the box.

Rosewood isn’t very bendable, so I dunked my ‘metal form’ into the coffee pot to heat up … dunked the strip of veneer into the hot water as well … did the wrap and let it dry. All that, so I could veneer the wine spigot hole … with the seam at the top of the hole where it wouldn’t be noticeable.

With that job finished … I quickly put my hide-glue back into the dungeon! How is it I can paint an entire wall without getting one little drop of paint on myself? But … put hide-glue in front of me and I get that icky sticky stuff everywhere!!!

It’s time to glue Nouveau Gal onto the front of the wine box … with Brain’s engaged!!!

It’s also time to introduce another of my beautiful presses. I know someone out there was interested in my presses … and so …....

The reason for the cover? This press resides in my spray room, and overspray tends to land everywhere! Drum-roll please!!

Hummmmmm … I must remember to change my calendar!! Top right corner … another reason time seems to fly past all too quickly. A flip of pages and tomorrow February will become April. I might as well wait until May … we’re almost there!!

And speaking of ‘being almost there’ … I am almost finished tonight’s blog! To prevent this well made box from exploding under pressure, various measures are taken … and this simple setup quickly adjusted before each side comes under pressure. Which is a pretty good indication of how square this box really is … don’t you think?!!

Apply glue … make sure the good side is facing up!! … align … tape edges … cover with waxed paper …..

I’m going to leave you all in suspense now!

The next blog will deal with the other 3 panels … that’s if I find those missing photos!! Even now my thoughts are churning over a design for the lid … so there’s another blog. And cabin life is fast approaching!

I can’t get over all the entertaining comments I’ve received from my most devoted followers! It’s wonderful to receive them, read them … and feel your enthusiasm! Thanks again for keeping me company :)

-- Elaine in Duncan

17 comments so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2813 days

#1 posted 04-28-2013 10:37 AM

Another awe-inspiring … “WOW” from me :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3662 days

#2 posted 04-28-2013 10:39 AM

Elaine it is a wonderful blog and I’m on the edge of my chair
I looking forward now to see it in all its glory

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4140 days

#3 posted 04-28-2013 11:03 AM

I learned a lot from this amusing and detailed blog Elaine. Now that you have made me aware of some of the many problems I might encounter with the filling, gluing, scraping and pressing, I will be hard pressed to create my own disasters. But I am up for the challenge (whether I like it or not). What a wealth of knowledge and experience you possess. We should make you a national treasure. In the meantime, while Canada, America and Norway argue about which nation should do that, we will be awaiting the next thrilling installment.

The gal came out wonderful as I fully expected she would, given your masterly expertise and talent. As for the box, I was thinking that if you had mitered the box corners you could glue on the panels before assembling the box, which would make it easier and safer to press glue the marquetry. Not a criticism, just a thought, as I realize that the butt joints are quick, easy and strong.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3672 days

#4 posted 04-28-2013 01:18 PM

Wow, Elaine. This marquetry really look great. Your blog is interesting and well done. Thanks.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View justoneofme's profile


830 posts in 3286 days

#5 posted 04-28-2013 03:30 PM

Thanks for the great comments!! It’s quite a thrill … knowing some of you are actually on the edge of your seats in anticipation!! :)
Keep pumping me full of ego, Mike, and I won’t be able to get my head through the workshop door!! Your idea of gluing the design directly onto miter cornered panels is a great one … but I’m challenged enough with butt joints :)
Actually, because I gave myself a bit of wiggle-room for each veneer panel … I can do slight adjustments for aligning both sides of the motif as each panel is glued to the box. Maybe I should learn some carpentry skills, eh?!! I can see where it could make things easier. But I’m so used to my unorthodox ways!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View Woodbridge's profile


3718 posts in 3224 days

#6 posted 04-28-2013 04:05 PM

Elaine thanks for the enjoyable and informative progress update. She’s looking real good. I’m looking forward to the unveiling.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View shipwright's profile


8570 posts in 3604 days

#7 posted 04-28-2013 04:30 PM

How to use hide glue with no mess ” and ”Boxmaking 101 ” lessons are on every day at my shop Elaine. Drop over any time. .... :-)

This is such a cool tutorial.

Mike, you’re right about her wealth of knowledge and experience. I am just too lucky to live ten minutes away and have her as a mentor.

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

View sras's profile


5535 posts in 3935 days

#8 posted 04-29-2013 12:39 AM

This is an entertaining, informative, interesting and ->just plain fun<- blog!

Thanks for taking us along on the journey!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View tomd's profile


2218 posts in 4576 days

#9 posted 04-29-2013 02:50 AM

I have followed your blog all the way, even rereading them so I could glean every bit of knowledge and understand everything you were saying. Thank you for your open candor and sharing of knowledge, this was like getting a free marquetry class. Your work is beyond beautiful, I know you are glad to get your box done but I am going to miss these lessons. Thanks again.

-- Tom D

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 2879 days

#10 posted 04-29-2013 03:32 AM

Wow! This is amazing! I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product and I’ll bet your grand daughter is going to love her birthday gift. Your blog is so informative and entertaining. Marquetry looks like quite a process but beautiful. Painting in wood!

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3740 days

#11 posted 04-29-2013 04:49 AM

That’s a great Blog Elaine.

I am going to have my teacher read it. He always insists on on no gaps, precision and a couple thousands of an inch. Now I got a great tutorial on filling the gaps, I can indulge myself with a 1/64 and 1/32 here and there.

Seriously your project is looking great and the blogs are extremely useful to me.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View justoneofme's profile


830 posts in 3286 days

#12 posted 04-29-2013 02:36 PM

Once upon a time … actually not that long ago … I entertained the thought of teaching Marquetry. The years have rolled by, with little time (it seems) to put that thought in motion. The worry of this beautiful art form gradually going the way of antiquity … being the ancient art it is … kept that grain of thought resurfacing. After all, where would I be … or what would I be doing right now if not for the fact that I was taught Marquetry so many years ago?! Apart from all the rewarding facets of home life, Marquetry (and now Intarsia) woodwork art has fulfilled my life!

LumberJocks website … so filled to the brim with artistic talents, so many woodworkers willing to share, teach, and bond in friendship … has really opened my eyes to a whole new world!! It’s wonderful to meet like-minded ‘buddies’ who share their creative love. Above all … through LJ I’ve found that Marquetry remains a vibrant art form!

From so many wonderful comments … especially throughout this blog … I’ve gleaned the concept of having taught something to some of you! And quite suddenly, this morning while reading these latest comments … I wondered. Maybe (although not exactly the way planned) ... I have begun this path toward teaching …?!

Okay … I can hear you all saying “Enough with the sappy stuff already!”. All sappiness aside … your comments have a great and powerful influence upon me!, and they are all very much appreciated. And way beyond all snappiness … You bunch are a heap of fun!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View ~Julie~'s profile


618 posts in 3840 days

#13 posted 04-29-2013 02:37 PM

I’m really enjoying this, but as I read each instalment I realize more and more I would not have the patience for doing the tiny pieces and the detail! It’s really a work of art.

-- ~Julie~

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3740 days

#14 posted 04-29-2013 04:48 PM

Teach is a wonderfull and noble thing Elaine. Go for it.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2826 posts in 4398 days

#15 posted 05-06-2013 03:15 PM

Beautiful Marquetry, Thank you for the excellent blog.

-- Dennis Zongker

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

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