Week 7, 22 February 2012

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Amber Bailey

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The year prior to starting my degree, I attended an Art Foundation Diploma at Eastbourne Vocational College in East Sussex. It was here that my interest in furniture began, and particularly the skill of marquetry. I was introduced to veneer for the first time and it consequently featured in several of my projects, including my final piece; a full-scale washing line made of marquetry.

Left over from the project was a large quantity of veneer scraps, many of which remained unidentified. I felt it was finally time that I got around to labeling them up ready to create a veneer library, so last week I spent some time with Sharon Grover, a senior lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University with a bountiful knowledge on timber, and we went through all the veneers and tried to identify them. Only several remain unidentified out of almost forty – not bad!

In my woodcarving short course at Bucks, my Tudor Rose design is finally starting to look like something identifiable! No longer is it just a block of wood!

My third woodcarving lesson saw me remove all the waste from around the rose edge, making sure to keep the lines nice and neat. Unfortunately my piece of wood did sustain several injuries during the process but nothing that Titebond glue and masking tape can’t solve.

After making the necessary repairs, I began to carve out the excess wood from the flower itself. To do this I used a large gouge to scoop out a circle for the large ring of petals, and then a smaller ring for the centre petals. It was essential to keep measuring the height of the wood and the depths that I was cutting to create an exact replica of the original mould.

Having completed both circles, I had to redraw the design onto the wood where my chiseling had removed it. Hopefully, next lesson I can finally start adding some detail!

Given that the degree course I’m studying is the BA (Hons) Furniture: Conservation, Restoration & Decorative Arts, we are due to begin our first restoration project in March. The project is to restore an antique chair that needs repairs to its structure, and then in our second year it will also serve as an upholstery/polishing project.

This weekend my father brought up to High Wycombe an Edwardian fireside armchair that he managed to pick up at an auction house for £22.50 – what a bargain! This is an ideal chair for me to use in the project, particularly as it has an interesting little bit of inlay at the top of the seat back.

I have a busy and exciting week coming up as the NSF Furniture History Society will be taking a trip to the Geffrye Museum and the Frederick Parker Collection on Monday. The rest of the week shall be spent down in Faversham in Kent with Yannick Chastang learning a great deal more about marquetry, in particular Boulle marquetry – but that"s a story for next time!

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Images, from top to bottom:

1. The final piece for my Art Foundation Diploma, the marquetry washing line (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)

2. All my veneer scraps finally identified (Photograph by Amber Bailey)

3. Chiseling and repairing! (Photograph by Amber Bailey)

4. Scooping out the first circle in the Tudor Rose, ready to carve the petals (Photograph by Amber Bailey)

54. …And scooping out the second circle – it’s starting to take shape! (Photograph by Amber Bailey)

6. The design redrawn back onto the wood (Photograph by Amber Bailey)

7. A front view of the fireside armchair in need of restoration (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)

8. A back view of the chair (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)

9. A close up of the inlay detail on the back seat (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)

10. One of the chair arms desperately needs to be made stable! (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)

11. The chair could also do with some new upholstery; the fabric is looking a bit moth-eaten! (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)

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