Editorial - "The Marquetarian", 153, Oxford Road, Dukinfield, Cheshire. January 1953
Before I pass by 1952 I must apologise for an error I made in the October issue of the "Marquetarian". On page six of that issue I stated that Timber Development Association Ltd., had a research laboratory at Princes Risborough. This, of course was incorrect, as the Forest Products Research Laboratory at Princes Risborough is a branch of the Government Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Now to 1953. I am sure you will agree with me that this publication is a much better job than the October issue, and for this we must extend a special word of thanks to Mr. T. L. Hawkes of Manchester who has been very helpful indeed in making this journal such a grand effort. This assistance I have received is an example of the enthusiasm which is so rife amongst our members, and which more than guarantees our future success. As this is such an improvement on my October effort I have included for the benefit of new members, most of the material appearing in our previous issue, and we shall commence our series of publications with this as No. 1. To those of you who received the October journal, I would point out that quite a few additional items of interest are also included.
A circular will be forwarded to you in the near future containing items of interest which could not be included here due to lack of space. My apologies go out to those of you who have submitted articles for inclusion in this issue, which were received too late. This material will of course, appear in our APRIL issue and other articles etc., should be posted to reach me for the end of MARCH, in order to catch publication. Members lists will be ready soon and it is my plan to issue with each "Marquetarian" additional lists, thereby giving all members the opportunity of contact with each other. From such meetings between members will come the formation of DISTRICT GROUPS, which are necessary to the furtherance of the craft, for as a national organisation we lack the "meeting atmosphere" where personal opinions and criticisms can be obtained.
Our first National Exhibition is to be staged at GUILDFORD in April, this year, and I hope that all members will submit as many examples of their work as possible, in order that everyone may see and appreciate the quality and beauty of our craft. The membership of the society continues to grow and to date we are 36 strong. For the benefit of members we are again including a design.
In closing may I take this opportunity of wishing you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.
"Timber Identification" by C. Penny.
The following descriptions of various timbers, together with the writer's comments as to their suitability and possibilities for Pictorial Marquetry are set out below with the hope that any information given may be of some guidance to members in the selection of veneers for their chosen subjects. The timbers will be taken alphabetically and a number given in each issue of "The Marquetarian"
Should any member require further details or a small sample I should be pleased to answer any enquiry. Several well known veneers, which are easily recognisable and have obvious uses for marquetry, have been purposely omitted.
ABURA Gold Coast and Belgian Congo. A pale reddish brown to light brown, rather straight grain although sometimes spiral. Soft, is resistant to acids. Not a very attractive veneer for marquetry, rather plain and uninteresting but cuts easily and veneers well.
AFRICAN WALNUT Gold Coast, British and French West Africa, Belgian Congo. Other names - Nigerian Golden Walnut, Gold Coast Walnut and in U.S.A. Congowood. Although called walnut it is not a true walnut, i.e. of Juglan origin. As a veneer it has a
very attractive appearance being of a golden brown colour with black lines. When cut on the quarter it gives a marked stripey appearance and with the exception of colour, it is not unlike "stripey Sapele", and in fact belongs to the Mahogany family. From a marquetry point of view it is easily cut and has a lustrous appearance, would be attractive if used for a border.
AGBA West Africa, Belgian and Portuguese Congo. Other names – Tola Branca. Colour varies from a yellowish pink to a reddish brown rather like a light coloured mahogany and although it resembles mahogany in grain etc., it is paler in colour and less lustrous. It has a slight gumminess but cleans up well and polishes well. Not very interesting for marquetry.
AMARANTHE Brazil, Bolivia, French and British Guiana. Other name, Purpleheart. Purple colour which is caused when the greyish brown heartwood becomes exposed to light. It is very hard and brittle to cut and easily breaks. Has a varied grain, generally straight but owing to the colour can be very useful for marquetry. Difficult to cut.
ANTIARIS West Africa. White to a Yellowish grey, soft, light, of a fibrous
nature, is used commercially for plywood cores. The root wood is used as a substitute
for cork. Has a very attractive silky sheen, very useful for marquetry.
AVODIRE West Africa, Belgian Congo. A creamy white to pale yellow colour sometimes very attractive, grain is generally wavy or irregularly interlocked and ocassionally straight, is easy to work with and cuts well. Have heard reports that it is inclined to a blue discolouration if thin veneer is used owing to a penetration of glue. A good veneer for marquetry.
AYAN West African. Other names - MOVINGUI. A very bright yellow, near citron colour often heavily figured. The brightness of colour often changes somewhat rapidly under the influence of sunlight. Has an interlocking grain which is difficult to cut, inclined to be brittle.
BUBINGA West Africa. Other names - African Rosewood (if rotary cut giving
a highly figured veneer is called Kevasingo). A very attractive veneer, light red brown with a pink or red stripe. Very hard and heavy. A most suitable marquetry veneer but difficult to cut by hand.
CANARIUM West Africa, Belgian Congo. A very light pinkish brown very lustrous the timber being scented. The grain is often spiral and the texture coarse. General appearance is not unlike Gaboon, attractive marquetry veneer, easily cut.
COURBARIL South America. Other names - Algarrobe (Spanish America) Jatoba, Jutahy (Brazil), Locust (British Guiana). Reddish brown in colour, streaked with light and dark brown stripes, very hard, finishes well, other than colour not unlike Macassar Ebony. Not particularly useful for Marquetry when there are so many other veneers available which can give the same colour effect.
CHESTNUT (HORSE) England and Europe. This wood can be a perfect white almost as clean as Holly, close grained, and at times delicately figured, is inclined to be oily but cuts easily, suitable for marquetry purposes.
CHESTNUT (SWEET) England and Europe. There is very little to write about as this wood is similar in appearance to plain oak and in some instances according to method of cut by manufacturers on producing veneers is very hard to distinguish between the
EBONY (MACASSAR) Dutch East Indies. An extremely hard timber, the colour alternating black and gold in a striped appearance, used mainly by cabinet makers for crossbanding, when matched carefully can make an attractive surround for a marquetry subject as the darkness of the wood makes a good contrast and "brings out" the picture, but
most difficult to cut with a knife on account of its hardness. Special attention should always be given to groundwork before laying this veneer as the surface has tendency to crack open especially if exposed to varied temperature.
ELM BURR Great Britain and France. A brown pinky colour, very suitable for marquetry, making a good effect for trees and bushes, the burr is rather coarse but well worth trying out for pictorial pictures.
GABOON Gaboon, Spanish Guinea, French Congo. Also known as OROURNE. This veneer is mainly used for ply and furniture interiors, the colour is a light red brown usually straight grained with very little figure, but has an attractive glossiness when polished. Can be useful for marquetry.
HAREWOOD Great Britain. A beautiful silver grey veneer, basically is Sycamore which has bean chemically treated to give the colour effect, if exposed to strong sunlight will in time gradually change to green, if widely used it is therefore best to keep in a shaded
part of the room away from the sun rays. It is very useful in marquetry and gives a good stone effect.
HOLLY Great Britain. This veneer is mainly cut for marquetry and small jobs, probably the most snow white colour obtainable, although Horse Chestnut runs it Close. Holly is rather tough to cut and is inclined to break into pieces, there is little or no grain shown, and sometimes is liable to discolour.
To be continued.
Editor's Note :
When writing for information etc., to :-
Mr. Penny, 701, College Gardens, North Chingford, London E.4.
Members are asked to enclose a stamped addressed envelope
"Burrs" by James Kidd
If I was asked as a marquetarian "what type of woods gave me the greatest pleasure to work?" I would say without any hesitation, Walnut, Thuya and Advodire Burrs.
Carefully selected, eliminating porous pieces, their difficulty to work is well compensated. Burrs used on landscapes, bush or rock formations, are particularly suitable. Burrs are exciting to work with for the possibilities of creation inherent in
those woods are tremendous. As a contrast I can well remember a very different 'excitment' where my patience was sorely tried. Still, experience is the greatest teacher, and now I always cover any intricate shape with adhesive paper before cutting. This holds together the burr.
"Glues for Marquetry" by D.K. Walters.
What glues shall I use? How often have we asked ourselves that question? Indeed there are so many types and varieties of glues and cements on the market today that it is a difficult matter to decide which is best
There are however certain glues for certain jobs, and to avoid disappointment in 'laying' a picture it is important to determine first (before deciding on any glue)
a) The method of laying the picture.
b) What stresses, strains, heat etc., the finished article demands. Numerous ways of laying a marquetry panel have from time to time been published, but it is my experience that there is only one way which is really satisfactory namely by cauls. Briefly this method consists of placing the glued picture and baseboard between strong boards or cauls under pressure, the cauls being either heated or left cold, depending upon the glue.
Next we must decide how the picture is to be used after completion. As a wall plaque or as a decoration on trays, table mats, firescreens, table tops etc., in short, what special properties are required of the finished article. Having decided these two points we can now consider which types of glue will best fit in with our requirements. It is impossible of course to describe every type of glue on the market in an article of this size but the following are particularly suitable, covering most conditions and being fairly easily obtainable.
UNIVERSAL, COLD GLUE - As sold in tins or tubes, ready for use without application of heat. This type is very suitable for laying marquetry pictures which require no
special properties. It is easy to handle and is fairly slow drying., at least six hours cramping time is required and twenty four hours before the article is safe to
work. This type of glue is normally non-staining but it is NOT heat or water resistent. Although a cold setting glue, it has the advantage that if a mistake is made or a 'bubble appears in the pressing it may be softened by the application of heat (a hot iron) and the blemishes removed.
HOT ANIMAL GLUE A glue similar to the above but requiring to be heated before
use. It is a fairly quick setting glue and consequently the cauls must be heated before the picture is pressed between them, this calls for some very quick work as the cauls must not chill before the pressure is applied. This can be a difficult glue to use for the homeworker with limited means of heating the cauls. The glue is very strong but again it is NOT heat or water resistant and due to its greater powers of penetration is liable to seep through open grained and porous veneers.
CASIN GLUE This glue is made from skimmed milk and is marketed as a light coloured
powder. It is made up as required by the addition of water and is used cold. Casin glue
is extremely strong and to a certain extent is heatproof and waterproof. It is however inclined to stain hardwoods and is therefore unsuitable for use with light coloured veneers and, although some makers market a non-staining variety, these are less water resistant. A further drawback is that once laid, nothing can be done to rectify any defect occurring in the pressing.
SYNTHETIC RESIN GLUES
These are a modern development, and there are hot and cold varieties but as the hot types require complicated apparatus and are critical to handle we shall only discuss the cold types here. The cold synthetic resin glues can be put into two categories as follows :
a) The "separate application" glues - this type comes in two parts - the syrup and the hardener. The syrup is applied to one surface and the hardener to the other. When the two are brought into contact under pressure a chemical action takes place causing the glue to harden.
b) Combined hardeners - here the hardener is mixed with the syrup before application to the surface.
Both these types give one of the strongest glues known and they are both heat and water resistant and normally non-staining (although some makes do stain hardwood). Drying time can be varied from very fast to very slow depending on the type of hardener (most makers market three 'speeds' of hardener ). The fastest in my experience is one which
is dry in twenty minutes pressing time - it must be remembered however that the faster the hardener, the less time you will have to get all your cramps done up on your cauls as setting commences immediately the two are brought into contact.
There are however two drawbacks to this glue. Firstly of course, once pressed, no mistakes can afterwards be rectified. Secondly the shelf life of the syrup is only about three months although some makers now market it in powder form which keeps indefinitely. In a well pressed picture the glue holds perfectly, but if the joint is not really tight the glue is inclined to crazing or cracking, which of course developes a weak spot in
the work. To counteract this a special form of this glue called 'Gap-filling' glue is now
available and with this less pressure is needed. It is especially suitable for marquetry work as any small gaps (they appear in the best of work) between the edges of the various veneers are filled with this glue which is so pale a colour (care - at least one may give red
glue lines) that when sanded and polished they are virtually unnoticable. These glues are slightly more expensive than those described in items given above.
In conclusion may I say, from my own experience that for a simple picture requiring no special properties use the COLD UNIVERSAL GLUE with cauls under cramps, for
work requiring heat and water resistance such as tea trays, table tops etc., use a gap filling (synthetic resin), again using the cauls and cramps. Before using any glue or cement be sure to read the makers directions and follow them.
Don't FORGET that heat and water resistance can also be obtained and improved by certain methods of finishing and polishing, but there, that's another article...
Editor's Note : Mr. D. K. Walters, 197, London Road, Burpham, Guildford, Surrey,
states that he will supply the names of various brands of glue if members requiring same will write to him enclosing a stamped addressed envelope.
"My Picture Comes to Life" by C. Greenhaigh
After finishing a picture of the 'Kings Arms' at Prestbury, my wife and I decided that as we were going to Cheltenham during our holidays we would make a call there. We found that it was only a twopenny ride out of Cheltenham.
The owner was most interested in the picture which we had taken with us and kindly signed the back of it, afterwards showing us around the building. It appears that Fred Archer, the famous jockey, had quite a close association with the 'Kings Arms' and ashes from one of his horses is to be found inside.
Having spent a very pleasant day there, we decided that it adds double interest to the picture if one can visit the piece if at all possible, as we intend to do in the future.
"Baseboards" by L. Page.
Most of the books dealing in handicrafts always recommend that marquetry pictures should be worked on Plywood or ⅛" hardboard, and then fitted with a picture frame moulding. From my own experience I find that this method eventually leads to a warped
picture. I find that a much better system is to use a solid board such as ¾” Oak or any
suitable hardwood. Make your base 1" wider all round than your proposed design and then bevel the wood. When you have finished your marquetry picture, fix a ⅛" surround, mitred at the corners.
The base should not be french polished but finished with a wax-polish which gives the picture a finished contrast.
Another method I practice is to use laminated ply about ½” thick, work your design on top as usual, and finish with ½” surround, which is mitred at the corners. The edges of the ply can also be veneered with the same veneer that has been used for the surround, but care should be taken to use it cross-grained. This gives the effect that the surround and the edging are one and the same.
To make a change from the usual practice of making marquetry pictures and hanging same on to the walls, why not venture to beautify your home with a useful and practical piece of furniture.
Procure a piece of laminated plywood ½” thick and approximately 17” x 21” and shape the top. Obtain a suitable design about 12” x 8” and proceed in the normal way with your marquetry. Then fix a ⅛” white surround, follow with a further surround or border about ¼” or ⅜” this time with a darker wood, mitre your corner in each case. To complete your firescreen, you must now veneer all round your picture with a suitable veneer, such as walnut and also the edges. Mount on legs in the usual way.
If anyone is interested in making such a firescreen I will gladly illustrate more thoroughly how to arrange the grains on the surrounding veneers.
Editor's Note : Members requiring further details from Mr. Page are requested to write to
him at : 103, Anthony Road, Greenford, Middlesex, enclosing a stamped addressed envelope.
"Fascination" by Noel Malyn
This being the first publication of the Marquetarian, I feel that a few thoughts on the appeal of the craft of marquetry will not go amiss. To old marquetarians all that follows, no doubt expresses the feelings they have experienced for longer than myself and I crave their indulgence. To potential beginners, well, perhaps these few words will prompt them to attempt that first picture, and once started I am sure they will be completely fascinated with the craft and will wish to join us in the Society to share it's aims and advantages.
What then is the appeal of our craft or as our Secretary poses the question, "what is it's satisfaction" The question should really be in the plural for the fascinations are many. Let us consider a few.
VENEER - "a thin strip at superior wood" - such is the dictionary definition of the main material used in marquetry. Until one handles veneers, most of us, when asked to name all the woods we know, start stumbling after five or six; marquetry opens up a new field for us. We learn that there are such woods as purpleheart, satinwood, zebra-wood, obeche and many others with equally exciting names. Woods from every corner of the earth, from the warm South Americas to the cold steppes of Russia. Surely there is a fascination here if we trace our veneers back to the lands from whence they came.
DESIGN - In the birth of your design all the creative powers are brought into play. For the marquetarian who is a capable draughtsman there is the thrill of the original design; for those of us not as fortunate there are always photographs or pictures in magazines etc., which with some thought and imagination can be modified.
A picture is created. The intense satisfaction of watching the picture grow as you add to it piece by piece; the culmanating moment when the last piece is carefully set in place; and then after the final polishing the pleasure the picture gives to all who behold it.
Beyond all doubt other crafts, have their own fascination but for a craft which COMPLETELY ENTHRALLS , I think you will agree that marquetry stands alone.
"Pricing a picture" by J. Cox and T. L. Hawkes.
It is essential to the furtherance of the craft of Marquetry that marquetarians sell their work in order that the renumeration obtained from sales may allow the craftsman to expand the practices of his craft. Money is required for the purchase of additional materials and equipment and the most reasonable way of obtaining the cash is from the sales of one's works.
Whilst the Marquetry Society is fully aware of this fact it is imperative that no selling organisation should be formed within the Society, lest the marketing and disposal of craftwork is allowed to become more important than the craft itself. As a non-commercial organisation the Society must remain above all monetary transactions on the parts of it’s members, but a few words of advice on the costing of a marquetry picture may be very helpful to our members who have difficulty in this matter.
The first item to be taken into consideration is the actual cost of the materials used in the picture and the marquetarian can easily make an estimate of this cost. Once this figure has been obtained, add a nominal fee to cover the depreciation of your equipment. If the total cost of all your equipment if £10. 0s. 0d., 5% (10/ 0d.) would be the charge on each picture for depreciation. You will see from this calculation that the production and sale of twenty pictures would cover the total cost of all your equipment thus enabling you to purchase new tools etc., which must help to improve your craftwork The percentage charged for this equipment is of course left to the discretion of each member.
Time is a factor which is a very difficult Matter to assess in a general manner as the length of time taken over a picture varies immensely with the maker. To estimate an hourly rate charge for the production of marquetry pictures would therefore be very difficult and as the prospective buyer is not interested in just how long the craftsman took
to make the picture, the time factor should be overlooked. It is more likely that a quality charge be made as the buyer is indeed concerned about the state of the finished article and I consider that a percentage increase to the figure already obtained by the cost of materials and the depreciation charge, should be added on the following lines.
If the marqueterian considers his craftsmanship good raise the figure 100 per cent. If considered very good add extra 20 per cent, and if excellent add an extra 50 per cent. The application of these percentage increases rests with the marquetarian himself. No Purchase Tax is levied unless the value of sales exceeds £500. 0s. 0d, in any one year. This problem will only arise with a marquetarian who derives a livelihood from his craft. The shop who sells the work will expect a profit naturally, and this generally takes the form of one third of the marked up price of the work. If however a Marquetarian persuades a shopkeeper to exhibit his work without actually purchasing the items offered, then a "commission" of 25 per cent of the sale price (fixed by the craftsman) would be satisfactory.
A good pointer to market value is to watch the shops and enquire the prices of pictures offered for sale, reducing this figure by whatever purchase tax is levied, take, 33⅓ per cent off this second figure and you have the value of the article as it leaves your hands. The following is an example. The exhibit is priced at £3. 15s. 0d. ( a general price for a small picture) exclusive of any purchase tax, 33⅓ per cent being £1. 5s. 0d., the value before selling to a shop is therefore £2. 10s. 0d., providing the comparison of workmanship, design and decoration are equal.
If one remembers just what the picture will cost to the man-in-the-street after all percentage increases have been placed on the original cost, then he will realise what chance he may have of expecting the marquetry picture to be sold easily.
“Some Crafty Notions on the Craft” by T. L. Hawkes.
How disappointing to find after spending weeks on one subject and surveying the finished picture, there seems to be just that "something" missing which makes the difference between a "good job jobbed" and a work of art.
Time spent in drawing the design and ruthlessly eliminating finnicky details especially in designs of buildings, pays handsome dividends.,
Choose subjects and think in terms of, light and shade to produce offsets as a poster artist does. Do not entirely rely on the beauty of texture, grain and colour (or else one might just as well paint direct to plywood). It is not necessary to have a terrific stock of assorted veneers to start off with, a balance of varying shades being the main aim, I consider that the best pictures I ever executed were made up solely from two or three leaves of English Walnut (though it was disconcerting to find that the piece that would just be perfect was dead centre and meant spoiling the rest of the leaf).
Very rarely does a picture require a dead straight cut. Roofs, walls, doors, towers, windows, water lines on lake and river scenes, all appear straight, but on reflection and study, have many and varied irregularities which should be taken into account. If we are a little “free” in our drawing - for after all, we are not out to produce an architect's drawing in another medium - it is surprising how that picture comes to life. One hears the expression "I couldn't draw a straight line to save my life", all the better.
Choose a Stout knife (Xacto is very near perfect) to cut your veneer and a good oil stone always by your side for sharpening, yes, every ten minutes. Aim to cut cleanly first time. This cannot always be done with stout veneers but one can keep trying,
Fix the transparent tape on the baseboard side of the picture as you progress using your last piece cut as a template. A pencil kept very sharp and fine and the outline drawn direct on the veneer is batter than using a carbon tracing. Carbon is a little difficult to eradicate afterwards.
The picture having been completed, paste on the face side a sheet of news-paper, that is not covered with pictures or heavy printing ink (or this will be absorbed into the calls of the veneer and difficult to sand off). Press the newspaper down and retain pressure by weights or press and leave until dry. After the newspaper has dried, the cellotape can be removed from the under surface, it will be found that in drying out, the newspaper has shrunk a little and tightened up the whole of the picture, taking up a lot of the obvious poor joints between pieces.
The thinner the glue line the better is the adhesion and Mr. C. Penny's remarks elsewhere, regarding Scotch glue as the best for the amateur's use, are heartily endorsed.
The pressing is done with whatever means is possible, be it weights, cawl or press and the picture is now ready for final cleaning.
Remove the newspaper by sanding off, or merely damping and scraping. Sanding the picture is just one of those elbow grease jobs using the right grade paper.
Dust must be eliminated from the surface even if one has to borrow the blower from the electric cleaner, before attempting the polishing.
The following method of finishing is entirely a personal preference but may be useful to others.
Apply in clean swift strokes, a cost of clear Cellulose Lacquer, with a soft camel hair brush. Care must be taken not to get tears or overlapping. When this is dry in about thirty minutes, make a second application and leave for a couple of hours to dry well.
Rub over this polished surface with a pad of ordinary domestic fine stool wool. Obviously inspect this pad for any large bits which will scratch the picture. Use the wool pad intelligently until all the shine has been removed from the surface. The picture is now adequately sealed
A good brand of white or colourless beeswax polish is now called for and a very little applied with a very soft cloth will not only produce a natural sheen to the surface but will also fill the grain and joints to a high degree.
A matt surface is generally much more satisfactory and will not allow those annoying reflections of light. It is rather disconcerting to have to stand in a certain position in a room to be able to view it properly.
And the best of Luck !
We have received a very interesting letter from Mr. W. A. G. Edwards informing us of the formation of a marquetry class in his school. We regret that we are unable to include the whole of his interesting letter.
FOR SALE OR EXCHANGE
Restricted to members only, who must state their membership number when applying.
VENEERS FOR SALE Bundles of mixed off cuts @ 5/ 0d, - 7/ 6d, - 10/ 0d, - 15/ 0d.
- 20/ 0d. plus postage.
Each leaf identified if requested. If desired settlement can be AFTER receipt of parcel, if not satisfactory, members can return parcel "no sale".
C. Penny, 701, College Gardens, North Chingford, E.4.
BASEBOARDS FOR SALE –
First Quality ½" Plywood offcuts.
Sizes – 8” x 9” and 8½” x 9½” @ 2/ 6d. each Post free.
Composition Board - Veneered Mahogany both faces 13/16"
Perfect sanded finish, will not warp.
8" x 9" @ 2/ 6d. }
16' x 18" @ 7/ 6d. } Postage free.
16" x 36" @ 15/ 0d. }
Please send cash with order to :
T. L. Hawks, 55, Pridmouth Road, Withington, MANCHESTER 20.
The following questions were printed previously and have aroused considerable interest. Replies of general importance are included below.
Question 1. What selection of workable veneers should one hold, bearing in mind the
contrasts of colour, shade and light, and a limited purse?
Question 2. What is the best kind of glue to use? Balsa wood cement seem to be an
(see article on page 6 by D.K. Walters Ed.)
Question 3. What is the best medium to use as a base.
(see article on page 8 by L. Page
Question 4. Any advise an cutting curves would be appreciated.
Question 5. What are the best types of polish to use for:-
(a) A matt finish. (b) A high polish.
I'm reading your article in the August issue of Popular Handicrafts.
I'm making marquetries from my own pen drawings (mostly views of the old city of Bruges ) I am really interested to contact with your society if of course you accept foreigners. With that purpose, may I ask you to send me more details of membership.
In the hope that you will understand my very "personal English", I remain, Dear Sir,
Rue de Rlandre 29,
In answer to question 1, - I would suggest:-
Maple, 25% Birds Eye (approximately)
Beech, Avodire, Walnut. Macassa Ebony.
Greywood 25% Birds Eye, Mahogany.
I may say that I have completed a satisfactory reproduction with as few as four or five colours.
Question 4, the first essential is a sharp veneer knife, with a fairly long point
(Diston's produce a suitable one at about 5/ 0d.)
I prefer an ordinary one with a steep strong point, for freedom of movement and manoeuvrability.
To cut a set curve a lot of practice is needed. Although there is nothing to prevent one making use of a solid pattern such as a draughtsmans French curve, a pair of compasses or rims of small ornaments are useful.
Question 5, the main purpose of the use, of polish is to preserve the wood, to seal and prevent warping; and to add lustre, to the natural woods.
a) One or two coats of white french polish
b) A fine coat of sealer or cellulose. Finished in wax.
J. Kidd, 309, Shetland Road. BLACKPOOL
As the children of this group are given "occupations" to do and are encouraged to become proficient in their "hobby" or "occupation" we are most interested in your Society for the Preservation and Advancement of Wood Marquetry".
We have three out of one hundred and forty eight children really enthralled with marquetry. There has been a great deal to do but they really love the work.
John S. Appleby,
Master in Charge,
St. Silos Hall,
Answer to Question 1.
As a selection of veneers to make a start with, if possible I would obtain the following which give an attractive colour and feature contrast.
Light Colours Advodire, Obeche, Maple, Sycamore, Harewood, Iced Birch,
Olive Ash, Norse Chestnut, Aspen.
Medium Colours Gaboon, Peartree, Tulipwood Zebras, Planetree, Silky Oak,
Brown Walnut (various selection) Teak and if possible Tchitola.
Mahogany colours Stripey Sapele, Pomelle, African Mahogany, Makore, Red Padouk.
Burrs Masur Birch, Thuya, Elm, Maple, Peartree.
Answer to Question 2.
With regard to the best glue for marquetry purposes, I consider that our fellow member Mr. D. K. Walters, contribution on this subject, covered most aspects admirably, however on this subject I think everyone has their own ideas based on experience, I have used Scotch Glue continuously for years in laying down my pictures, and have had very little trouble and no discolouration, the latter if experienced, appearing to be a watery glue mix. In it's favour it must be said that blisters are easily overcome, but with synthetic glues, especially if the Urea type, it is impossible to guarantee that blisters can be satisfactorily laid, I do think that from a hobby point of view Scotch Glue every time, but obviously from a commercial aspect synthetic, due to their quick drying are essential for quick production, also their heat resisting and waterproof qualities. Incidentally sufficient attention cannot be given to the importance of preparing the groundwork of the base so as to give the glue every opportunity of doing its job, toothing the surface either with a teething plane or roughening with an old hack saw, helps considerably, as besides making a bite, this also levels out any uneveness on the surface, thus avoiding the possibility of blisters.
Answer to Question 3.
There isn't any doubt in my mind that the best base is ½” seven ply construction or laminated block or batten board. In assembling ply it will be remembered grain direction of ply veneers (mostly birch, gaboon and beech) is alternatively at right angles in order to balance the pull of each veneer, thus avoiding warp. Laying pictures on a solid piece of timber is not enough, as in time the pull of the veneers laid will ultimately distort the backboard. Very few people realise the immense strength of a veneer and the effect it can make even when it is laid. Lay a thin gauge veneer on a solid one side only and wait for the twist, it is a question of balance. Veneers are cut to thickness in accordance with the Imperial Standard Wire Gauge, the best and most used thickness in veneer for decorative purposes are between the following :-
20 gauge -
21 gauge -
22 gauge -
23 gauge -
It will therefore be seen that if a face veneer of 20 gauge (especially if possessing a strong pull) is laid on one side of a thin ply and the back veneered with a weaker 23 gauge, it is unbalanced and will result in a twist. It must be emphasized than that a very strong baseboard, as mentioned earlier, is essential, and once again I think solids should be left alone.
Answer to Question 4
Cutting curves! Does the member concerned mean he is having difficulty in cutting across the grain? This points to knife trouble, care should always be given as to selection of knife as the final result depends on the correctness of true cutting. Obtain an electricians high speed blue hack saw and grind down to approximately 45º or to suit, sharpen on stone, make a handle by saw cutting part of the way through a piece of selected timber, insert blade and bind with sticky tape. Failing this the Xacto Knives advertised are really worth buying, once the feel is accustomed to. These knives are very efficient and I have yet to find a better cutting tool. To cut, a certain amount of flexibility, (with strength) is necessary in order to allow the blade to “Go round corners” but too much is useless as this results in a broken blade and lack of control in cutting required shapes. I have heard of a beginner who used a razor blade and I cannot understand why he could not see the impossibility of turning out decent work with this improvised tool as apart from being too slender, they break easily and an element of danger is involved.
Your letter in the May issue of Popular Handicrafts has attracted my attention and I write to wish you every success in starting up your Society.
I have a fellow feeling as you will note by the above note-heading.
I came back to Australia after an absence of 48 years, I settled here in Frankston and
found that the one thing to complete my happiness was a circle of congenial friends.
After eighteen months back I started the Guild, and have been agreeably surprised at
marquetry, it has caught on. We run a monthly meeting in members workshops and hold
weekend practical demonstrations on wood, metal, plastic and leather working. In
unison, we have ocassional evenings for cine films of technical interest, and have found that the American Embassy in Melbourne holds a fine and varied film library, which being a technical society, we are made free for loan. I find that those evenings are very enjoyable, and pass the information on in the hope it may be useful to you. I believe the Canadian Embassy runs a similar service, but so far have not had to call on them.
We have found that several of the large manufacturing firms in Melbourne have willingly sent us a technical man to lecture on their products, for instance, Lewis Berger & Co., gave us a talk on paints, and an engineering firm making good wood working machines, sent a truck with machines for a demonstration.
We get quite a lot of press publicity, and this swells our membership. For the past six months members have formed a roster to act as instructors at weekly woodworking class in the Menzie's Boys Home, a State Institution for youngsters whose parents are considered unfit, for varying reasons, to look after them. Under Supervision, the boys make toys and seal l wood. novel ties which are sold for them. They take a percentage for pocket money and the rest of the funds go to purchase further materials for them to work on.
My own interests are in cabinet work and internal carving of plastics but my old age and infirmities preclude much muscular effort, I have mechanised my workshop and still am able to potter along at my hobbies
With so much mass produced rubbish on sale out here, I am not surprised at our aim to preserve the ancient skill of hand craftsmen is appreciated. Our membership is now about forty and if it increases much more we shall be embarrassed in finding suitable housing for our meetings.
We are now proposing a tool library, purchasing such items as a small circular saw, electric hand drill and sanding disc, and other similar gear, for members by using surplus funds for this.
I suggest that you pick your committee carefully. Find these people who are really prepared to take active part in organization, and not those who fail to turn up for meetings and leave you to carry the baby. I am in hopes that we have got over our initial troubles of this nature, and our present committees are active and anxious to push the Guild along.
I would be happy to hear how things progress with you, and we might possibly maintain contact and exchange ideas.
Again, wishing you the best of luck.
The Guild of Australian Craftsmen,
C. Harrison, Secretary,
It is regretted that space does not permit the inclusion of all the correspondence received by the society. the many not included in this edition, Our apologies are extended to the writers of the many not included in this edition.
"Rules of Competition"
Will all members kindly review the undermentioned rules and let Mr. J. Cox have their opinions on the matter as soon as possible.
The Rules of Competition of the Marquetry Society
Reproductions – non commercial.
Original design – Amateur.
Original design – Professional.
Beginners only – may only be entered on one occasion.
3. No entry to be considered for more than one class, and each exhibit to be accepted for one exhibition only with the exception of entries under class (1)
4. Class (e) set piece details to be circulated to members at least two months before the date of the exhibition, design and materials to be left entirely to the discretion of the competing members.
5. In the event of an entrant knowingly committing a breach of the Rules of Competition, the whole of his entry to be disqualified and the question of renewal of membership referred to the Executive Committee.
6. The Society cannot be connected with, or held liable for, any Financial transaction arising out of the sale of any exhibit by its owner, and that all entrants shall, by the fact of having been supplied with the Rules of Competition, indemnify the society against any such liabilities. The society shall compile a catalogue of entries tabulating the names and addresses of owners against exhibits, descriptions and numbers.
7. Entries containing advertising matter to be submitted to the Executive Committee before display considered. Details of entry and designs sufficient for examination.
8. The decision of the Judges appointed by the Society to be final.
9. No entry to be withdrawn from any section whilst the exhibition is in progress.
10. A 1st. 2nd. and 3rd class certificate of merit to be awarded for each class (or more than one of any degree when it is impossible to distinguish between entries). The total awards for any class not to exceed more than one third of total entry for that class. A further award of three certificates to be given for these items judged to be the best in the whole exhibition, excluding class (f) For this award each competitor must nominate one item of those submitted if more than one entered.
11. Applications for entry to be submitted on a standardised form, the form being obtainable on request from the headquarters of the society.
Correspondence concerning this journal and the craft of Marquetry are most welcome and should be addressed to the Secretary at the Society's Headquarters.
J. Cox Esq., 153, Oxford Road,
Dukinfield, Cheshire. January, 1953
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