As an Applied Artist offering To The Trade services for over two decades I have contributed to the realization of scores of works. But within the last few years, I have begun to apply this wealth of expertise and experience to realizing designs of my own.
My most recent project has been the Goatskin Vellum Screen 2016. A four-panel screen, this piece is a tribute to variation-within-repetition, as well as an acknowledgement of the subtle nuanced beauty of goatskin vellum. On the front of the screen I created a trapezoidal pattern with 104 pieces of the luminous, translucent animal skin material. Each piece was hand-selected for color, tone and grain pattern, and then applied using butt joins that wrap to the back veneered edge, seamlessly meeting the distinct materials of the front and back. For the back of the screen I selected a veneer of rift white oak, which is bright and clean in color and grain, and a fine complement to the vellum.
For construction of the screen panels, I collaborated with the renowned woodworking company VCA Inc. The panel structure is an aluminum honeycomb core, soft maple perimeter wood frame and Medex faces. The use of such different veneer materials front to back requires consideration to ensure that the panels remain rigid, the goatskin vellum has tremendous pull compared to the oak veneer. The aluminum honeycomb core and wood frame construction keep the panels flat despite the disparate material tendencies.
For the visual and structural base I chose dark grey dyed solid oak. The double action hinges, which are custom made of patinaed brass, allow the screen panels to swing in either direction for a variety of configurations.
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ABOUT THE PROCESS
This slideshow demonstrates steps for the process of trimming back an adhered edge of goatskin vellum to prepare the area for the next piece, in this case the application of the 3rd trapezoidal piece on this panel.
The first step is to lightly moisten the vellum with water. The purpose of this is twofold, the moisture makes it easier to pull off the excess vellum and the damp vellum surface helps to keep the straightedge in place.
Next, I line up a straight edge to the designated trim line and while holding well in place (you can see I also use a steel bar on the straight edge as weight) I cut the vellum with a scalpel blade (Havel’s #23 are my preferred scalpels) in two passes. The first pass sets the line and the second pass cuts through the vellum. I then pull off the excess vellum.
I then carefully sand the adhesive residue left on the substrate up to the clean edge using P400 sandpaper. Next I very lightly moisten the remaining adhesive residue with water and carefully scrape it off with the chisel end of a #3 Casselli Spatula.
Having flipped over the panel to the back side I trim the excess flange of vellum flush to the back edge and bottom corner with a scalpel.