Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trade Tips: Gilding Techniques

Tony and I are trying something new - video blog clips! We shot our first "Trade Tips" clip yesterday. It is a quick overview covering tricks Tony has taught me to identity mercury gilding versus electrolytic bath gilding of brass mounts. The topics will vary, this one being a bit more advanced, but will also include some furniture and decorative arts basics for both antiques and new designs we are working on.

We know we need to work on the our production quality (!) and my "screen-presence" needs to be improved to say the least, but we hope you enjoy this and find it useful!

Hope you are enjoying the last bits of summer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Learning from the design process

The development of this table has been a bit of an odyssey and a learning experience for me. Believe it or not, we starting working on this table in 2008!

There were some structural problems that we had to fix: primarily the "wobbliness" of the frame. Without cross supports or the right gauge material, this basic "Mallett" style of table is always a bit shaky. We solved this this by using heavier gauge brass both for the legs and the shelf-supports and the difference is remarkable.

That first, wobbly, prototype had wooden shelves too - that was the original look I had in my mind; something rustic yet contemporary, industrial but refined. But as we were improving the frame, a finisher friend of mine saw and fell in love with the idea of the table and offered to lacquer the shelves in a new technique that she was working on. I consider this friend to be an extremely talented and innovative finisher, so naturally we went ahead and lacquered the shelves instead of using a natural wood finish. This was the result:

And here is a close up of the lacquer:

I really love this lacquer. The pattern is hand applied using a metallic dust that sort of bleeds out into the white lacquer, creating a soft halo-effect or shadowing around the lines. And more importantly, I like how it makes the table look. It gives it a more modern feel. However, I must admit some degree of satisfaction now that we have the table as originally thought of with the wooden shelves. Perhaps that is just because it fits the expectations I had in my mind. But it taught me a lot about the design process. There is a hard balance to maintain between your own inspiration and external inspiration. Truly, whenever I go to my friends studio, I get inspired. And I am thrilled by this lacquer technique and using it. But, somehow I am just a bit more fulfilled by seeing the table as I originally envisioned. It may be a tired axiom, but you really must stick with your vision for a project. Of course outside inspiration is vital, but I believe you must somehow take that inspiration and adapt it to your vision instead adapting your vision to the inspiration.