Archive for November, 2010

Jeux de Fond (playful ground)

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Aaron Radelow marquetry

The loose translation for juex de fond is playful ground. A decorated surface creating some type of illusion, forcing the viewer to do a double-take or to mesmerize them. The photograph above is an example of jeux de fond marquetry I made from 2 mm thick sawn satinwood veneer.

By simply flipping the lozenges every other row, I create the above pattern, which works best on a vertical surface.

Along with the above pattern, I have also created numerous table tops with a cube pattern. Visually speaking, everything we see (in this world) boils down to two things: shape and color.

Take a look around you, anything you focus on is a shape, and color(s). Of course, we see shapes and colors due to light — so a light direction, or source, is the integral component.

Light is creating the above allusion by how the wood grain is reflecting the light back to our eyes. Furthermore, a faux light source can be created with carefully arranged woods and or wood grains, as with the cubes.

Aaron Radelow marquetry cubes

Cubes are made by placing three lozenges (cut 60 degrees) together to create a 3-D effect, in one dimension. A cube’s top consists of the lightest color of the three. The two lozenges that makeup the sides are slightly darker, one more so than the other.

It is this that gives the allusion that there is a light source coming from the upper left or right, historically the light is from the above left.

Jean-Henri Riesener was born near Essen on July 4, 1734. At a young age he moved to France and there began his schooling; he became a furniture making icon. The reason I bring him up is because of his heavy use of jeux de fond.

Many of his complex pieces incorporate cubes or the alternating lozenge pattern. One other visual trick he used, which is simple, was to give a panel the allusion of being recessed.

Imagine a slab-type cabinet door. Three or four inches in from the door’s edge is an inlay, say about 1/8” wide. The left and top inlays are black — ebony; the bottom and right inlays are very light — holly. This gives the impression that there is a light source emanating from the top left, creating the allusion that the infield is dropping back into the door; especially when the frame and field veneers are different species.

So sky’s the limit here. Different color woods, different grains, and design patterns can be incorporated into new furniture pieces for a unique and striking look. Furthermore, the above can be applied to an existing furniture piece to change or upgrade it without building something entirely from scratch; a fresh finish, some marquetry, and you have a new showpiece!

W Patrick Edwards Blog

Friday, November 5th, 2010

A traditional furniture conservator, restorer and maker discusses his life experiences and his philosophy of work. If you love marquetry this is another place to discuss it.

Visit blog:

A Silver Ghost Sets the Stage

Friday, November 5th, 2010

In 1906, Rolls-Royce sought to achieve greatness. The engineer and manufacturer was Henry Royce; Charles Rolls was a racing driver. Often referred to as the hyphen between “Rolls-Royce” was Mr. Claude Johnson.
Mr. Johnson was General Managing Director at Rolls-Royce. In this position he made a landmark decision that would keep Rolls-Royce from becoming a ghost — by building one.

Around the turn of the century there were thousands of automobile manufactures. Yes, thousands! In order for a company to survive, it had to create or do something that would place them head-and-shoulders above the rest. In good or bad times, the companies that did this stayed afloat. The same philosophy applies today (for the most part).

In the years following 1906, Rolls-Royce presented to the world an automobile that was extremely unique: The Rolls-Royce chassis No. 60551, registered AX-201, was the first to bear the name Silver Ghost. The “silver” is for the aluminum-silver paint and silver-plated hardware. The “ghost” in the name is for the extremely quiet and smooth ride.

Anyway, the aim of all their hard work was to raise public awareness of the fledgling company, i.e.-to stand out. They wanted to show automobile enthusiasts the quality, reliability, and quiet performance of this advanced machine, to say — This is what we’re capable of creating. It is considered the most valuable car in the world, today’s value for chassis No. 60551 is $57 million.

So. What does this have to do with furniture making? Everything. We should all strive to create (in our own way) a Silver Ghost at some point in our lives. If I have, great! If I haven’t, I’m very much looking forward to doing so. Now roll up your sleeves and get started on creating yours…