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.