Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Birds Eye Maple and other veneers.

Birds Eye maple was a popular veneer for frames in the Victorian and later period. It was particularly suitable for prints and drawings and often used in rustic styles of framing.
The veneer is a very flat, hard and white coloured with it's distinctive birds eye pattern in clusters across the surface.

To create the traditional finish seen on these frames requires several unique processes. The watermark type grain, showing in the photo above, actually disappears  and the birds eye markings are brought out in the first workings on the raw veneer. Further processes reveal a delicate "quilting" effect and a strong contrast of colours throughout the finished veneer.

After several coats of thellac, the frame is given an antique glaze to improve it's tone and finished with two coats of wax.

The slip used here is the traditional double scoop profile with the inner scoop burnished to contrast the outer matt distressed edging. Gilding is with 23 1/2 ct gold.
Another veneer to use is Burr cluster Elm.

This veneer is easier to work than birds eye maple, in that it takes stains well and makes a good substitute for burr Walnut. With careful finishing it can show a pleasing relief pattern in it's grain.
Because of it's complex burr, there can be a tendency not to glue well on the frame substrate and show blisters on the finished surface. This can be overcome with strong pressure when gluing the veneer.

Finally there is the ever popular Rosewood frame.

The veneer here is Crown Rio Rosewood. This is an expensive wood but veneers well onto the frame.It has a very strong colour, so does require care not to darken the wood too much during finishing. The aim here is to tone the colour and add depth to the finish.