design

Recent News

Boulle marquetry video for the V&A

 

In 2012 we were contracted to work with the V&A on their new materials and techniques gallery. We produced display samples to explain wood marquetry and a video showing how Boulle marquetry is made. The results are now on show in the new “Dr Susan Weber Gallery”, a gallery dedicated to the materials and techniques of furniture. It was exciting to have the V&A’s team of curators, film director, camera man and lighting technician (to name but a few) visit the workshop and to collaborate together to produce a clear and simple video. We tried to be as accurate as we possibly could in the choice of materials and techniques, however we chose to use horn instead of turtleshell. The donkey and the tools used were the result of many hours of research and discussion as there is no documentary evidence to show which tools Boulle actually used. While marquetry donkeys appear in early cabinetmaker’s treaties, many scholars believe that Boulle used a different tool. For the clarity of the video, we settled on the 19th century style marquetry donkey, which is a safe and documented tool. Still, regardless of the donkey used, the marquetry was hand-made and the challenges still remained unchanged! This short video took many days of filming and the preparation of numerous (often identical) samples. I can only imagine how many extra hours were necessary to edit the footage! Please watch this video on the V&A’s website. I do hope that you will understand and better appreciate the challenge and difficulty in producing or restoring Boulle marquetry. This video summarises years of experience and marquetry cutting. To view the video, cut and paste the URL address below

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/videos/h/how-was-it-made-boulle-marquetry/

Diamonds are forever…

We all know how valuable and beautiful diamonds and jewellery can be. But how do you display and protect some of these greatest treasures of natural and man-made beauty? In 2012, we were contracted by the Antwerp company “Boulle”, part of the Boulle Mining Group, to design and make limited edition boxes for their diamond collection. Below is the first one of a limited edition of 8. Boulle wanted to celebrate the work of the synonymous André-Charles Boulle and the new box had to be reminiscent of his style. After being presented with several different designs the client opted for a fairly traditional, exquisitely made Boulle box. The box is made of ebony, with a secret drawer and a large hinged lid. It is decorated with a brass and ebony marquetry and fitted with gilded bronze mouldings. Each box has a solid silver hand engraved plaque detailing the unique number of the box, then finished with gilding. The photos below are without the interior lining and content.


These boxes were not cheap to produce as we wanted the quality of manufacture and materials to be in keeping with the boxes’ exclusive contents. We hope this collaboration with Boulle will be long and interesting. We also hope that it will inspire other designers, makers or collectors to see the potential we can offer in producing the finest and most luxurious pieces of furniture and boxes. Many makers and designers around the world tendered for this project and we are extremely proud that our work was selected.

New workshop and bench spaces available 

 

In our busy workshop, it is hard to find time to keep the website updated with recent news. This year was exceptionally busy with exciting conservation projects, gilt bronze projects and, above all, the big move to our new premises.
 
The workshop was purpose-built to Yannick Chastang’s needs and was finally ready to move into in July. The new workshop is bigger, better organised and has the advantage of increased security. Located in a small, gated business park, the workshop has a large secured storeroom, dedicated space for the conservation of gilt-bronze, a bigger bronze finishing workshop, an airy wood conservation studio and a large workshop equipped with some of the latest woodworking pieces of machinery. The workshops are fully air conditioned with humidity control. We also offer bench spaces for rent for cabinetmakers, conservators. bronze-finishers and silversmiths. For more details see our Job opportunities page or contact us by email.
 

 

 

New Workshop set up for Gilded bronze: conservation, restoration and making of gilded bronzes (ormolu) (October 2009)

Yannick Chastang is pleased to announce the setting up of a new metal conservation / bronze chasing workshop.  This is in response to increased demand for careful conservation of gilded bronze as well as the making of quality new gilded bronze (also called ormolu).  Yannick Chastang can now provide a top quality service for gilded bronze, from making of the moulds and supervision of the casting to in-house chasing and very soon in house gilding (electroplating and firegilding).  The employment of French-trained specialised metal workers means that Paris quality work can be achieved at more competitive prices.  Our hourly rate for making bronze is about a fourth of the hourly rate of a Parisian bronze maker.  This step will ensure greater control over the quality of our work without the need to sub-contract work to Paris. 

  Our bronze mounts are now cast in a local foundry where they use an alloy recipe very similar to that used during the eighteenth century.  The reason behind our research and behind the desire to use the same alloy is not dictated by traditionalism but simply because the eighteenth century alloy has many advantages over modern brass.  Most importantly, the metal is softer than modern brass making it easier to work and thereby reducing the time spent chasing by almost 30%.  Burnishing of the finished gold is also made easier and gives better results.  We primarily use electroplating to gild mounts, mainly for environmental and cost issues, but we are working very hard to recreate the look, thickness and colour of the more traditional ormolu which was generally fire gilded (also called mercury gilding).  Where budget is not an issue, fire gilding can still be done in France.   

Smaller projects include the making of new escutcheons and handles for a pair of Boulle desks that have recently been conserved for Chatsworth as well as keys and elements for other pieces of Linke furniture.   

Whether furniture mounts, candelabras, chandeliers or fire dogs, we believe we now have the means to make anything from modern originals to copies, be they from an existing model or based on a photo.  Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice on any project you may have. 

Chasing of a new escutcheon to replace one missing from a pair of Boulle marquetry desks owned by Chatsworth  

Photo showing only a small selection of the 1,300 punches (or ciselets in French) we use to chase the bronze mounts.  Many of these punches are antique tools which have been reconditioned for use in our workshop.  Antique tools possess the advantage of endowing the bronze with a much smoother and more authentic chasing.  As every style or every bronze mount requires special tools, if we don’t have the appropriate tool, new ones are made for on a  project by project basis.  

 

 

 

Collector's cabinet  with Egret marquetry 

 
This recently-sold cabinet is veneered with an egret marquetry of holly, pink ivory and other woods set into a background of
black ebony.  The water in which the egret stands is simulated by an interestingly marked piece of brown-speckled ebony.
The inside is veneered in a dramatically contrasting pink ivory and fitted with fourteen drawers. 
More photos can be seen in the design section of this web site.