Friday, February 26, 2010

French Polish w/ a Twist

Here's a new sample that Maciek and I collaborated on. Woodburning (pyroghraphy) has always been seen as a sort of super crafty thing, it brings to mind those kits you find in big box craft stores or the toy sections of department stores. If you google pyrography, some pretty kitschy images come up. But I thought it would be an interesting technique to play around with using some more sophisticated materials, so I came up with the idea of putting a French polish finish over a burnt image on veneer. I burned in the image and then handed it over to Maciek who completed the sample with the French polish finish. Any type of image can be burned into the wood, we decided to try it on a lighter colour wood (birch) for our first attempt to get a decent contrast, but we will be experimenting with some darker woods.

Here's how wikipedia describes French polish, "French polishing is a wood finishing technique that results in a very high gloss surface, with a deep colour and chatoyancy. It consists of applying many thin coats of shellac dissolved in alcohol using a rubbing pad. The rubbing pad is made up of wadding inside a square piece of fabric and is commonly referred to as a fad (amongst many other names)."
"The process is lengthy and very repetitive. The finish is obtained through a specific combination of different rubbing motions (generally circles and figure-eights), waiting for considerable time, building up layers of polish and then spiriting off any streaks left in the surface. "
"French polishing became prominent in the 18th century. In the Victorian era, French polishing was commonly used on mahogany and other expensive woods, and was considered to give the best possible finish to exclusive furniture."

This technique is definitely not a 'budget' item, but it would be suitable for smaller, feature areas or pieces. It could be done on paneling or custom furniture pieces.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Drawing on Polished Plaster

So, I know it's been awhile since I last posted, but I have been busy, it's really not because of my super powers of procrastination. We've been hard at work making up sample kits for your libraries and as a result I have not had time to play around with the player piano rolls, but ideas are still swimming around in my head.
Today I thought I would post about a project we completed in December because I think it's a pretty interesting technique with a lot of possibilities. For a long time I had been experimenting with dry mediums to create drawings on polished plaster so we could create fine detailed images. Polished plaster doesn't accept dry mediums very well, it's like trying to draw on glass. I stumbled upon a box of grease pencils in my art supply stash and tried them out. They worked like a charm, allowing different possibilities in line quality due to their smudgability. They also are completely permanent,  once sealed with our polish topcoat are completely irremovable.
Many of you have probably seen our first sample with this technique (look above 01-1201409). This one also included some incised lines. Below are some shots we took of a residential project in Yorkville. A very talented designer over at B+H, Dorota Gelner came up with this amazing design and her colleague Jodie Rosen fine tuned the colour selection. They wanted a grey line, but as grease pencils come in limited colours (black, white, blue and red) we used a combination of black and white pencils to create the design.

The diameter of the design is almost five feet and the wall is the first thing you see when entering the unit. It was challenging to photograph as we buffed the finish to a glass like sheen.

Hopefully soon I will have a chance to mess around with the item from my last post and I've come across another interesting item that will be up for grabs soon.