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Ginkgo Leaves and Flowers Headboard

Listing #3715   Listed on: 01/23/2012

Company Name: CT Fine Furniture

Contact Name:   Craig Thibodeau

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I completed this queen size marquetry headboard last year for a local client that saw another marquetry piece of mine at a show. This piece was designed primarily by the client to fit a particular space so it doesn't necessarily look like a traditional headboard. The overall idea was to create a floral display that featured flowers and birds from her garden. Additionally she wanted to have a bit of storage on the ends and a shelf like space behind the headboard for books or a lamp.

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The primary materials are Curly Anigre and Mahogany. There are a variety of flowers from her garden including Fressia, Lavendar, and Bleeding Hearts. There is also the Ginkgo branch flowing across the top that changes color to mimic the change in seasons.

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The back of the headboard is veneered in ribbon Sapele and features five Ginkgo leaf medallions in a variety of colors. These were intended to have sort of a family crest feel, though greatly simplified in design. The inside of the cabinet is also ribbon Sapele.

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The marquetry uses a wide variety of dyed veneers, I think there are 16 different colors altogether. Of all the flowers the pink Bleeding Hearts were by far the most difficult to cut properly as they have a very distinct shape that looks pretty bad if done wrong. These aren't perfect but they aren't too bad either. The marquetry drawings took quite a while and a number of revisions to get the layout finalized.

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To get the fall/winter feel on the last bunch of Ginkgo leaves I used a variety of natural veneer colors and had a few of the leaves either falling or already at the bottom of the panel. It seems to get the idea across.

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There are two Anna's hummingbirds mixed in with the flowers. They are done with a mix of colored Mother of Pearl and Abalone. The idea was to get the colors correct and have the hummingbirds look interesting while using the least number of pieces. This photo also shows the Fressia flowers which are done in a really cool dyed Lacewood veneer.

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Here's another shot of the other Fressia flowers showing the dyed Lacewood veneer.

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For anyone that's interested here's what the marquetry looks like as it is being cut. After each piece is cut it's placed in the proper location on a copy of the final drawing. Once the cutting is complete the parts are assembled into the background and one by one they are taken out and sand shaded.

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The other side of the headboard marquetry as it was being cut. This marquetry piece didn't have an overly large number of parts but the image was quite large. The marquetry panel was approximately 68 inches wide by 36 inches high and needed to be broken down into many smaller pieces to fit my scroll saw for cutting.

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This image shows one of the packets ready to be taped closed and cut. Lots of blue tape holding many bits of veneer in place. There is at least one piece of veneer taped in the proper location for each piece of the marquetry picture. Some of the parts have two or more pieces in the same spot so I could pick the best color after everything was cut. Thanks for looking and as always any comments or questions are welcome.

Viewer Comments:

Posted By: Cy     [01/24/2012]

Posted By: McKay     [01/24/2012]
I really like the work. What type of saw do you use and what method? Are you overlaying the leaves,birds, etc on the background and then cutting on a bevel? I have always wondered how you even begin to evaluate how much to charge on a beautiful piece like this.

Posted By: Craig Thibodeau     [01/24/2012]
Thanks for the comments. McKay, I use a DeWalt scroll saw, nothing fancy but it works well and the variable speed feature is useful.

The marquetry is cut using the Boulle or packet method. Essentially all the veneer is layered on top of the background and the image is cut piece by piece. As each piece is cut it is placed on the drawing. I don't do bevel cutting though it is a good method for creating imagery with no saw kerf; the Boulle method leaves a small kerf between the parts but I don't mind.

Pricing is a tough one. Often the drawing process can be quite time consuming (this piece is a good example of that) so it depends on the imagery. I think developing a good pricing scheme for marquetry work comes with practice, lots of it. The furniture portion is easier to price though.

Posted By: Brad Dawson     [01/27/2012]
Beautiful work. Marquetry in those larger panels is indeed challenging. Excellent!

Posted By: Chris Walvoord     [02/12/2012]
Beautiful work. I agree with your comments on the bleeding hearts. I have used them in place of bell flowers on a federal style table leg and they take a little fiddling to get them to look right. Fun though.

Posted By: Scott     [02/15/2012]
Outstanding! Love the design and the "feel" you were after. I have just started fiddling around with marquetry in the past year and find the work so much fun. It's hard to stop! Thanks for sharing!

Posted By: Cliffie     [02/24/2012]
WOW! Great work as usual.
I see you tape the entire packet before cutting. If you break it down by cutting along the branches, how did you manage handling the 68X36 piece with any accuracy?
All the sand shading are perfect! Did you leave the gum tape on the show face when sand shade? I found it hard to judge the shading through the tape.
Also, what kind of finish you use for the front marquetry? It looks very clean.
Again, great work.

Posted By: Craig Thibodeau     [02/25/2012]
Cliffie, yes the larger packet was broken down with some initial cuts to reduce its size to one that would fit well on my scroll saw. I have actually minimized my use of gum tape on colored veneers so it's only used on fragile parts which makes shading easier. If you do gum tape the parts just flip them over and look at the shading on the non-taped side, it should be roughly the same as what's under the tape. The finish on this piece is Conversion Varnish.
Thanks for the comments.

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