Welcome to Running with Chisels Vol. 7 – your monthly newsletter for all things marquetry. #saynotonakedfurniture
This month we are talking straight veneer cuts, class schedule and events, and the first in our series on museums with excellent decorative arts collections.
I interpret this question as – how do I cut two dead straight pieces of veneer, so that I can seam them together and have no gap?
This is the basic cut in veneering, and it is both straightforward and not at all! This is the key technique for joining pieces of veneer, radial veneering or for making chessboards. There is an excellent write-up on making chess boards in Craig Thibodeau’s book “The Craft of Veneering”.
Tools required are simple: a sharp knife or a veneer saw, a straightedge, blue tape, and veneer tape.
That’s great when it works, which (with some practice) should be nearly all the time.
If it doesn’t:
I have just updated the class schedule for next year out into the fourth quarter, and I often fill up some of the classes during the my in-person event coming up. For best selection, you might want to check the schedule before the November 11/12 Studio Tour.
Some classes are now full, some classes we have added or changed dates, and we have finalized the second half teaching schedule. Here is the complete schedule:
I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching both the Geometric Marquetry class and the Painting with Wood class in March and May of next year, at their facility. I hope to meet some new folks there and maybe some of you, if that location or class timing is more convenient.
I will also be teaching at the Wood and Shop in Earlysville next year, likely in May. We’re still finalizing details, but as always you’ll be the first to hear.
I am in the process of making a statement marquetry picture, which is also a collaboration piece with our daughter Jennifer. She is an architect and artist who makes Botanical Fine Art. She painted a floral picture, and I am making it in marquetry.
It is …… challenging. I have another whole week to get it done, so wish me luck.
If you are in area, next weekend (November 11-12) is the Artisans Studio Tour. We are Studio 8. I will be demonstrating marquetry all weekend, and I will have items and classes for sale. Jennifer will have her botanical art, and my good buddy Steve Palmer will be displaying his funky Steampunk pottery. We’d love to have you stop by.
One of my key inspirations for making beautiful furniture is seeing beautiful furniture. It raises the bar and shows what is possible. Although this newsletter is about marquetry rather than furniture, my preferred use of marquetry and veneering is of course to decorate furniture. Books and museums are my two primary sources. Museums have the advantage of letting you see three sides of the pieces. Some Historic Houses don’t allow photos but nearly all museums do, without a flash.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is our local museum, located in Richmond VA. Generous donors have funded a large airy space with an eclectic mix of items. It has a large collection of Art Deco furniture, including several Ruhlmann pieces, rare for the US. It also has several Majorelle and Galle Art Nouveau suites. The Galle pieces have intense marquetry. There is also a substantial amount of Art Nouveau and Art Deco jewelry and silverware, for additional examples of design motifs. The collection of older furniture is perfunctory, which is reasonable given the extraordinary collection at the DeWitt Wallace in nearby Williamsburg, which I will cover in the next newsletter.
My beef with the VMFA is that the furniture is too far from the viewers, and lights are dim. It is challenging to take great photos to use for your reference. If you want to see the details of Ruhlmann pieces specifically the Musee des Arts Decoratif in Paris is the place to go – dozens of pieces, and so long as you don’t touch them you can get as close as you’d like