Woodwork Techniques

All mosaic items, large or small, boxes or furniture, are made the same way.

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All mosaic items, large or small, boxes or furniture, are made the same way.
Firstly, small shaped sticks of different kinds of wood (walnut, rosewood, lemonwood, peach-wood, and more - all of which have different colors and properties), are stuck together to form small shapes - stars, triangles, etc. Then, the patterns created in such way are cut in thin slices, which are then laid on the wood surface and glued together with the utmost care to make sure all the shapes match each other perfectly. Additionally, to lend elegance and lightness to the overall effect, pieces of mother-of-pearl cut to exact dimensions are added. The mosaic surface created that way is next polished and varnished. Often, mosaics are made by families, where each person specializes in slightly different skills.

Experts value Syrian Mosaic as being the very top in outstanding quality. They are cut and set with ultimate precision, and are amazingly complex and attractive. The mother-of-pearl pieces are inlaid into specially designed matching spaces skillfully carved in the wood. Other countries have developed different methods. For example, the Egyptian technique is to stick pieces loosely into a soft glue layer, and then polish them after hardening. This is a much easier and quicker technique, however, the resulting appearance is far less attractive and visibly inferior in quality.

Mother Of Pearl, and Carved Furniture are made in slightly different way. Traditionally, high quality solid, well dried walnut pieces are cut to a rough shape of desired object. Then, they are carved by a skilled artisan, creating complicated patterns. The next step is to cut and polish mother-of-pearl pieces in such a precise way that they fit perfectly into the carved spaces. This step is really time consuming, as the precision of this work will determine the final quality of the product. Small pieces are cut to form together various shapes - rings, stars, ornaments, etc. Several different kinds of mother of pearl are used, adding various colors to the sophisticated design....

Next, a highly skilled professional will finely polish the mother-of-pearl pieces, so they match each other seamlessly. Prepared in this way, the pieces are glued in place, creating a perfectly uniform, flat surface, flush with the walnut base that holds them. Sounds easy? Keep in mind that mother of pearl is very thin, very fragile and brittle, and not flexible, and that many parts of the furniture need to be slightly curved, which makes it necessary to profile the mother of pearl in a third dimension, on top of the complicated flat shapes!

The finished piece will then be carefully polished and cut to the exact shape required (the piece shown here will ultimately form the back portion of a President line armchair).

When all the pieces have been mounted together, and finally create a single piece of furniture, they are finished with high quality varnishes, to protect the delicate mother of pearl as well as the fine walnut wood.

 Cheap mother-of-pearl, with texture, is obtained from Deir ez-Zor and comes Euphrates, while shiny, expensive mother-of-pearl from Lake Tiberias. Today mother-of-pearl is imported from Japan and the Philippines; it usually has a greenish sheen. The bone inlays were formerly made of camel but today mainly compressed bone powder is used.


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