The phone rang, “My name is Penny, we have looked on the Internet for a bespoke Ebony dining table and arrived at your website. Can you make us an ebony table? My husband has seen one that he really likes”, a lovely lady enquired,
“Yes I’m sure we can”, was my answer.
The ‘difficult’ we do as a matter of routine. In time honored fashion, I went down to meet the clients and see their lovely home.
“What I want is a table that looks a Million Dollars”. Colin pointed to a dining room that was visible from the Carrara marble floored entrance hall. This imaginary million dollar table was to sit there, all dark and magnificent. Not really for use mind you, a bit like limo heels are on shoes – to be seen in, and not worn for walking.
“I DON’T WANT TACKY”, PENNY IMPLORED
I COMFORTED HER, “DON’T WORRY … I DON’T DO TACKY”
The table was to be in Macassar Ebony. They were very specific about that. “My mate’s got a Macassar Ebony table and I really like it” Colin declared, “I’ll take you to see it.”, with which I was whisked off to a neighbor’s house to admire the piece. The neighbor had a nice piece of furniture. I recognized the designer and knew that we could do better for them. “I don’t want it tacky” said Penny. “Don’t worry,” I comforted her, “I don’t do tacky.”
I went away and thought how can I make it look a Million Dollars and not be “Too Bling”. The table was to be circular and it’s job was to have a display of flowers on it, so we radiated the leaves of the veneer from the centre. It’s called a sunburst pattern and needs great technical skill to match all veneers to a pin point centre. This we can do, as I say, the technically difficult we do all the time, as routine.
Then I got the idea of a white shining line around the edge, maybe we could use solid silver. A quick call to jeweller friend and we were making a sample of the job to show the new clients. This showed the top of a table leg jointed to a full scale section of the table top with silver edging. The silver was great, it came in lengths about 6mm by 4mm in cross section with a length of about a metre. Costly, but when it’s a million dollar job…
When he saw the sample Colin loved it. I could tell by how he was holding it, caressing it, that we were getting through. This time the shine was better, Colin wanted shiny and he was right, dark furniture absorbs light and feels huge unless it is very shiny, bouncing reflections off it. I didn’t know it at the time but this was going to cause us head aches and numb fingers later. The job came into the workshop in June and was looking pretty good by September when it was ready for polishing.
That’s when I should have preserved my sanity and called in the experts at shiny. They do it all the time down here. You see surf boards made locally with more shine than you can squint at. Car bonnets for c…. sake are as shiny as a silver teapot.
But no I had to try and fool around with many, many, many layers of hand applied lacquer thinking hand made was better…. Except when you do this you are after the perfect shine that’s perfect with a capital P. That’s what shine does. It shows every little bump and ridge, everything that is not dead flat. Oh I can’t go back there now… it’s too irritating.
So in the end, after what was about two weeks of faffing, we called in the experts. They sprayed and burnished it and WOW did they do a better job. I used to feel that even shiny needed an element of hand finish in there to make it more human, but now I am not sure