Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The New Project -- With JOY!

   Starting a new project is always an exciting time for me, just like ending one that has consumed me is a downer.  Here you see about 42 board feet of 8/4 Hard Maple that is destined to become a crib for my daughter and her husbands first child!!  It's really hard for most to imagine this pile of wood becoming something useful and beautiful but that's the thrill of being a woodworker.  I ordered the plans and will get all of the necessary hardware from Rockler.  This will involve lots of resawing but hopefully me and the bandsaw are up to the task.
    Once I get into this maybe I can schedule making the demonstration pistol case into my work load too.  And ...... have another design for a frame I want to carve and gild but this time the kid's bathroom will turn into my gilding room so I can set up a humidifier and hopefully eliminate much of the static I had on the Ali frame.  I'll keep everyone up to date.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ali Framed and Finished!!

Here it is, the largest frame I've ever gilded with genuine, 22 kt gold.  You know I'm pretty patient but this took the majority of the day Saturday.  I did break for lunch and dinner but pretty much a twelve hour project!  I see I cut part of the frame off in the picture but it's the same on both sides and I'm wanting to go on to the next project.  Had some difficulties laying the gold because of the static I seem to generate.  I even get a static shock when I'm just walking around and then get a drink of water or wash my hands -- soon as I hit the water then ZAP! the electricity shoots to my mouth or hands.  In spite of that I'm quite pleased with the results, water gilding is a very labor intensive process.  This frame is 16" x 20" and if I had done it in composition gold it would have taken about two hours.  I used a raw sienna, dead flat finish on the edges and used rottenstone to antique the gold and give that aged appearance.  The carved, inter-twining  ribbon was burnished to achieve that molten gold look I really like.  Well, this painting will be shipped to the OPA show in Scottsdale, it takes place during the end of April.

Friday, March 26, 2010

All Clayed Up

   Before I call it a night I thought I should show you the progress on the Ali Frame.  Here it is with the final coat of clay on it.  Now you can make out the design better.  I'm apprehensive about starting to lay the leaf tomorrow but very anxious at the same time.  Patience is a virtue you definitely need to be a gilder and that's my goal. I know one of my problems is that I carry a lot of static around with me which causes the leaf to curl around the gilders tip.  Really, how many other people do you know that get a shock from the water when washing their hands or getting a drink!  Happens to me all the time.  Got shocked when I took a drink at the athletic club this afternoon.  My plan is to coat my hands with lots of powder and not wear wool socks.

A.J.'s Kitchen Frame

Diane's painting titled A.J.'s Kitchen and frame (of course!) were shipped to the Weatherburn Gallery in Naples Florida this afternoon.  I've used the style of this frame before and in my previous post I showed it to you in the raw with the carving complete.  Here's what happens to it after the carving was completed.  It's given two coats of the Rolco burnisher/sealer, you can see the can in the background.  For this one I used a quick size to coat the outer edge of the frame where the carving is.  Composition gold was used for this particular frame, I can't see using the 22kt.  when it's just going to be painted over anyway.  I forgot to mention that before you gild, you should take some 4/0 steel wool and burnish the frame.   I only use Liberon brand for this as it is completely oil free.  The next step is to spray the frame black.  I prefer Krylon brand, they make a semi-flat finish that looks good and I've never had any problems with it.  I made a turntable for spraying and it's worked well.

Here's a close up of what the frame looks like when it's finished.  I used an 8mm gouge to cut the berries.  The way I remove some of the finish and replicate age and wear is to use a very small amount of BriWax on a cotton ball.  You need to be careful with this step because it's easy to go too far.   BriWax has lots of solvent in it and will pretty much stick to the paint so use some caution here, maybe shoot a scrap piece of wood with the burnisher on it and gild a portion so you can practice.  I prefer to use Liberon Black Bison wax on the rest of the frame for a slight sheen to the flat black.  If you notice the way the wax has taken off the finish -- you can even see a hint of the Venetian Red burnish underneath which adds to the authenticity of the frame.  I'm afraid that because this was needed ASAP all of the brush marks weren't sanded out of the burnisher/sealer coat.  Ah yes, Barbara Carter keeps telling me I need to get a spray gun.  In any case, here is what the finished frame and picture that Diane painted looks like:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Frame Emergency X's Two!!

     After my weekend in the bay area I came back to the shop to work on the Ali frame.  That's when the first emergency hit -- the yellow clay I prepared was too thick and rather than being safe and stopping I applied it to the entire frame.  Since I hadn't worked with wet clay before I failed to thin it enough before I added the gelatin.  Luckily for me I was able to contact Barbara Carter and she gave me some advice on how to rectify it.  I was told that I should always prepare some test strips, I decided that I can use the sides of the frame for my test strips since I had originally planned on painting them.  I'll find out if this plan will work for me.
    The other emergency is that the Weatherburn Gallery in Florida needs some of Diane's new work.  One that she submitted is AJ's Kitchen and we decided that the frame we had for that was too feminine and flowery.  This picture is  of the frame I did yesterday from some basswood.  It's a fairly simple design but gives a nice, wide panel to surround the picture with.  I'll use composition gold on the outer, carved edge then spray the frame a flat black.  Once the black is completely cured I'll take a cotton ball with wax on it and carefully wipe the black away from the edge to reveal the gold and replicate some age to the frame.  The first step prior to that was to brush on a coat of Venetian Red burnisher/sealer from Rolco.  Should take care of that emergency.
     After the 9-10 hour drive on Saturday and then the return trip on Monday I must admit I'm kinda draggin' but will persevere!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Can I Get a Witness?

  The next step in the gilding process is to apply a very thin wash of red clay.  This is same concept we do in woodworking when we're using a smooth plane to finish a surface.  Instead of using light pencil marks like you would on wood, in gilding you use a thin layer of red clay.  I'll  sand the gesso to create the smoothest possible finish for the clay, when the witness coat is gone then that's my cue that every portion of the frame has been sanded.  The only place I won't sand is over the carving.  The technique there is to use a damp cloth to smooth the carving.  The picture below shows the pattern for the carve better.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

One of 3 Projects to come

Last week was spent at the Scottsdale Artist School in (duh?) Scottsdale.  It was fantastic, Diane took a workshop from John Michael Carter and I took one from his wife, Barbara, to learn the art of gilding a picture frame.  The workshop was intense, each day we were in the studio from 9 to 4 and usually stayed late and started early.  Diane had entered this painting of Ali into the 19th. Annual Oil Painters of America show and it was accepted.  As it turns out, one of the jurors happened to be John Michael Carter.  Even before this, I knew I was going to take the gilding workshop and had begun to design a frame, it is 16" x 20" and so was the Ali painting.  My goal now is to carve and gild this frame in time for the show which is during the end April and will be held in the Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale.
The pictures aren't too clear but I think you can get the idea of the design. I've always liked an intertwining pattern and this is what I came up with.  The molding is a modified version of the stock we had custom milled from Foster Planing Mill in southern California.  Since my carving is a work in progress it's also a definite learning process!  A difficult part is the half elliptical feature where one vine crosses over the straight section.  I'm told that when you start to gesso the frame minor imperfections will be concealed.  If you look at the selection of chisels I'm using notice how they bend at the end?  They are referred to as crank neck and spoon bent and they seem to be the best choice for carving on the curves and coves of the frame.  Once the carving is done the gilding process starts and I'm really excited about applying what I was taught during the workshop.  
     That takes care of project number one, the other two are building another pistol case for a replica of a 45 cal. Colt revolver nicknamed the Peacemaker.  That will be my sample case when I go out to promote the pistol cases: www.contemporarypistolcases.com   The other project is to make a small spokeshave from the kit I received as a Christmas present, it's from Lee Valley.  The blank has been laminated already and is a piece of Leopard wood sandwiched between two pieces of Chakte Kok.

Monday, March 1, 2010

MicroJig Splitter System: Take Two

    You may remember the problem I ran into (due to my own fault) with the MicroJig splitter system.  This is a wonderful safety device for the tablesaw that is a vast improvement over the splitters that come standard and are usually removed!  Truth is, the only time I use mine is when I have lots of ripping to do and then I'll install a dedicated rip blade and replace the stock splitter.  As you may recall, I had purchased the system for a standard sized blade but since my blade was sized by metrics I really required the thin kerf set.  When I contacted the MicroJig people ( http://www.microjig.com/products/mj-splitter-steel-pro/index.shtml ) they exchanged it for me without any hassle -- nice customer service!

The first step was to use some UHMW polyethylene to make a new, zero clearance throat plate.  My technique is to first drill and tap the poly, then use set screws to attach a rough cut blank to the tablesaws plate.  Using a bearing guided cutter on a trim router works well.  You'll need to flip the plate to make both ends round and not cut into the slot at the back of your throat plate.

  The instructions that come with the system are pretty clear but I'd suggest (as always) to read them completely through first.  If I had done that and used the test they suggested to see which system you needed I'd only have to do this once!  In any case, you make two test pieces out of 1/2" MDF and screw their guide piece on the end of it.  That's the orange piece you see.  You make the required adjustments and then use the drill bit they provide to drill the four holes at the end of the throat plate.

   At the right is the final installation.  Again, the instructions are pretty clear but what you have is a perfectly flat, stable, and slick throat plate.  There are two fins that are inserted into the four holes you drilled in the plate.  If you look closely you'll notice that the first fin from the saw blade is set towards the fence side of the kerf this blade creates.  The second fin is set to the waste side of the kerf which prevents the wood from ever pinching together, binding, and heaving it right back at you! The system came with four different fins so you can fine tune it to match your blades kerf perfectly.  I added a small screw at the far end of the throat plate to prevent any kick back there.
   I've only made a few trial cuts to set this up but am really impressed with how it works.  Should you need to make partial cuts into a board the fins remove easily.  This system is much better than cramming a 16d nail into the kerf if it started to bind like I did when working construction!