The creative process of making a masterpiece has many steps depending on the complexity of the project. They can be broken down into three main cagegories, Creation, Fabrication and Celebration. You can view these in detail below in numbered or text format.
Imagine - The beginning of any creation begins with imagination. Sometimes the ideas are sparked by something you see, an urge to create something, or a need you become aware of. We spend some time thinking about the work’s look, feel, purpose, symbolism, meaning, colors, textures, size, scale, materials, functions, uses, environment and locations.
Sketch – As your imaginations come to mind we begin to put your ideas down on paper, tablet or screen as a rough sketch and explore all of the possibilities. Now we are making history. This is the beginning of the life of the masterpiece and the point at which we begin chronicling the narrative.
Research - We are all influenced by history, context, our experiences and a very large part of the creation process may benefit from or even require in depth research.
Refine – Early in the process, there are a plethora of choices to be made. As we make choices we start to choose the direction the project will head. These first four steps are repeated many times throughout the exploration and refinement of our ideas. One of the major influencers besides imagination is the mastery and knowledge of materials and techniques, many of which are detailed under the Lost Artforms tab. These first four steps are repeated over and over, possibly many times until our view is focused and a commitment to an idea is made.
Design - Next we take the selected sketch and render a more refined drawing or blueprint often in both 2D and 3D. Many of the early decisions such as materials, scale, environment and function will dictate aspects of our design.
Rules – In humanity’s search for perfection and the sublime there are rules or guidelines that have been discerned over the centuries by past civilizations and generations which direct us to the ideal proportions and the most pleasing aesthetics. When we take our concept drawings and apply these rules of design, the most subtle change can make the most tremendous impact. Once again we apply the refining process over and over until we have developed the proportions and dimensions that draw us near to perfection, to God, the source of all beauty and order in this world.
Maquette - Taking a refined drawing and putting it into three dimensions gives a whole new sense of relationship to the object. In this step of the creation process, we make a scale or full size mockup or prototype of the masterpiece.
Relate - As we view the maquette “in the round” from all sides we interact with the object and relate to it. In these experiential interactions we use our senses to perceive anything that doesn’t feel or look right and make additional decisions necessary to further refine the proportions and scale.
Technical - At this point there are still technical issues to solve. Are there loads or stresses we need to consider? What kind of joinery will the carcass have? Will there be mechanisms? Where will the secret compartments be and how will they work? Will we be bending wood, glass, stretching skins, applying shell, bone or doing anything else unusual? What is the appropriate method to develop? Do we need to design custom hinges or other hardware? Where will the wiring and power sources be located if there is lighting or electrical involved? This step may have quite a lot to consider depending on the complexity of the project.
Ornament - With the maquette resolved, the next step is to design the ornamentation. There are many ways to add ornament to an objet d’art: carving, marquetry, inlay, engraving, casting, painting and gilding to name a few. With each type of ornament selected, the entire process starts from the beginning. Sketching ideas, researching forms, styles and motifs, refining the designs and applying the rules of design. As the ornamentation becomes clearer, it is applied in sketch form to the maquette and related to. Decisions and revisions are made and technical issues addressed.
Finish - As the ornamentation may give visual and physical texture to the masterpiece, so also the coloration and texture of the materials and the design of the finish evoke a certain feel or look to the piece. The finish is not only decorative but functional and needs to be designed to protect as well as beautify.
Chronicle - The final component is to design the unveiling and the creation history book as well as media which will document the creation, fabrication and presentation experience of the masterpiece.
Decisions - Once all of the final decisions have been approved the fabrication begins.
Materials - Acquisition of the highest quality, most visually and tactilely appealing and luxurious, responsibly harvested materials from around the world. Lumber selection may be determined by many factors: method of sawing, grain type, figure, color, consistency, sequencing such as when purchasing a flitch and even smell. Much time and care is put into picking the right boards for each component of the project. We also often use materials with history, with a story and with sentimental attachment such as a limb or tree from the property where you grew up, a special place you visited or perhaps grandma and grandpa’s home.
Acclimatization – Lumber is hygroscopic and needs to be acclimatized to the ambient relative humidity and temperature of the atelier. Other materials are like veneers, shagreen, parchment and skins can also be very sensitive to its surroundings and may require speical storage in the workshop.
Preparation - Once the process and cut lists have been created, lumber is selected for each piece of the project and prepared by jointing, planing and cutting to rough size. When cutting out of much larger or thicker stock, the dressed stock often will need additional time to relax from the changes in internal stresses inherent in the wood. When cut out of a log, long periods may be required to release the free and bound water from the cellular structure of the wood. A general rule of thumb is to air dry a board for at least a year for each inch of thickness. When making a 6″ thick mantle or workbench it wouldn’t be unreasonable to let the slab dry for nearly a decade before bringing it into the shop and dressing it down to size.
Carcass - Working from the detailed drawings or story board, the pieces are cut to size, joinery is crafted and the carcass is assembled.
Fitting - Hardware, panels, glass, stone, inlays and mounts are all meticulously finely adjusted and fitted to the carcass and then removed.
Ornamentation - Carving is done to the carcass, components or separately and applied. Turning is done to create finials and other curved components. The marquetry skin is cut out on the chevalet which is the traditional 18th century saw used to cut out each miniscule piece of veneer. The motifs are assembled and glued to the substrate. Shell, bone and metal are also cut out in a somewhat similar manner. Moldings are planed, carved, drawn or shaped on the artwork or applied. Pietre dure stone pieces are painstakingly cut and fitted together into the design. The stone panel is then fitted into place and then removed. Wax and wood models are carved. Molds are made and glass is cast, annealed, cleaned and polished.
Installation - Hardware, glass, finials, mounts are all installed.
Finishing - Depending on the finish design, this may take as many as 10 or 15 steps or when French polishing with vernis, days of applying numerous coats. Gilding is done to the wood or glass where the design dictates. Pietre dure stone designs and glass castings and bevels are polished.
Compilation - All of the collected photographs and videos are compiled, edited and selected. The final cuts and selections are inserted into the styling and products previously designed.
Homecoming - The completed masterpiece is enveloped, protected and crated in anticipation of it’s homecoming. The delivery experience can be one of simple pleasure in an intimate setting or an extravagant event where it is proudly unveiled to all. Finally the masterpiece will come home, to provide enjoyment and edification for generations to come.
Celebration - Documentation of the celebration may be added to the media and the creation history book. These keepsakes will be convenient ways to share and relive the experience of creating a masterpiece and making history.