202 N. Grant St
PO Box 495
202 N. Grant St
PO Box 495
I have a customer that I have had the privilege of doing several projects for. A couple of years ago she arrived at our studio bearing several items that she had just brought back from the Catskills.
Her Mom had recently passed away and it was on her to close out her Mom's home. Among the items that she had returned to Indiana with was an antique mirror that had belonged to her Mom and three Birch tree branches from trees that had been in her Mom's yard.
She wanted the layers of paint stripped off the mirror frame and then refinished. She really had not decided what she would like done with the Birch wood but we agreed that we would work together to come up with ideas.
The mirror had gotten very wet at some time causing the 1/8" wooden backing to shrink and contort so, when I tried to remove the mirror from the frame I realized that it had been in a bind for who knows how long and, as soon as the pressure was removed, the mirror cracked all the way across.
I had designed and hand-crafted a coat rack from much of the birch for Jane and recently stripped the frame and painted it so that she could re-purpose it as a frame around a frame.
That left a little bit of the Birch branches and an once beautiful but now broken mirror.........
It bothered me that the broken mirror may never get to be used and possibly would just be discarded. I came up with a concept where I could use both the broken mirror and the Birch wood. I did a rough sketch, Jane came to look at the sketch, approved of my idea and I went to work..
I planned to build a large back board and then attach the mirror with the birch branches placed as a frame around the mirror.
We did a glue up of four pine boards using biscuit joinery ( I usually always use hardwoods but this mirror is very heavy and I wanted to limit the added weight as much as possible)..........
After the glue up was dry I sanded the entire piece smooth and rounded all edges. After that I whitewashed it and then rubbed it out.........
As you can see, Birch is not really white as it has muted shades of reddish browns and golds.....
Being a little bit wood-worker and a little bit artist this is where both arts are combined!
I needed to hand paint this board so it looked like natural Birch. I made very diluted washes of burnt sienna, golds, grey browns and burnt umber and carefully washed and blended all colors to replicate the true Birch color.
After the washes were set I dry brushed details of the flecking and knots to give a realistic look. Now the back board blended with the real Birch branches.........
This was stamped on the back of the mirror when it was made in 1905.......
It was now time to prepare the Birch and put everything together. The branches themselves had already been split on the table saw a few days before. Different sizes of slices had to be cut from both some of the Birch and some Sassafras. Finally all of the pieces of the branches each had to be hand sanded and rounded off.
Finally it was time to assemble and then three coats of finish applied.
It was now complete.......
Thank you for you for visiting us !
I named the pieceThe Branch and I truly believe the finished project was well worth the days and hours that it took to complete it.
Jane remembers when the mirror and original frame hung in her Mom's home. My hope is that, when this piece is hung in Jane's newly designed and built home, that when she glances at it she remembers how pretty the Birch trees looked in her Mom's yard.
when she pauses, then peers into the mirror, that she feels the warmth of her Mom peering back.