Author Topic: looking glass  (Read 4431 times)

dlb

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looking glass
« on: November 21, 2010, 04:45:19 PM »
All,
I am collecting info (& my thoughts) on the construction of a looking glass as shown in "American Furniture" by Joseph Downs. I would like to try to construct #250 but before proceeding I was wondering if anyone had insight into mirror construction techiques.
Thanks in advance,
dlb
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Jack Plane

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2010, 04:59:02 PM »
I don't have a copy of American Furniture, so have no idea what the mirror looks like. Can you post a picture of it or something similar?

Generally speaking, there's nothing extraordinary about frame construction; on frames up to 3 ft. the corners are usually just mitred and glued. Larger frames are occasionally mitred and tongued for additional strength as the plates can be very heavy and are capable of pulling frames apart.

The strength of a mirror frame is really the sum of its parts; the actual frame is often flimsy, but combined with the backboard and the plate itself, it forms a cohesive structure.
Regards, Jack.

Adam Cherubini

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2010, 02:05:18 AM »
Yes!  I've noticed on period mirrors (I'm imagining a Chippendale style scrolly type mirror) that the scroll work is often undercut i.e. the scroll work isn't perpendicular to the face of the mirror.  Imagine a sort of full thickness back bevel.  When you look at the mirror from the front (the view they usually use in the books) the bevels are no apparent.  But at any other angle, the scroll work is much punchier, when you don't see the thickness quite so easily.

I haven't made one of these mirrors yet, but I have been collecting old mirrors.  Antique shops often will give away ld mirrors.  People want new mirrors in old frames so the old glass goes in the dumpster.

Adam

albreed

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2010, 07:28:15 AM »
Adam- Most of these mirrors have a box joint at the corners, often pinned. I haven't ever seen a mitre joint here.The molding is glued onto the frame face, sometimes the sides have a piece of veneer to cover the pine frame before the ears are attached. Crest and base are glued to the pine frame. Glue blocks all around. Make sure the crest, base and ears are flush with th bead on your.molding. Leaving a space there is something seen on bad repros from later periods. As you noted, the sawing has a bevel to it to lighten the look. The molding on the face is usually very thin.
How are the ones in your collection done?-Al
Allan Breed

dlb

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2010, 08:04:02 PM »
I tried to post a photo of a mirror but the file was too large. You may want to look in the SAPFM Member Gallery under "Looking Glasses" for an example.

dlb

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2010, 01:06:15 PM »
"If you keep this in mind all else is design and open to your interpretation."
This is from Jeff Headley and it makes me wonder about design. If I am going to make a mirror w/ a crest can I design my own crest or must I copy an existing one? Can I merge two designs into one? 
How much freedom do I have to design and still stay within the era and have my piece called a Queen Anne reproduction?
What characteristics must a period reproduction have in order to be called a period reproduction?
Thanks,
dlb
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albreed

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2010, 01:34:42 PM »
Figure out what the vocabulary of design is for the era you want and then mix and match. That's what they did in the period. Design books were a guide-Al
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millcrek

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2010, 06:48:59 PM »
In my mind a reproduction is just that a reproduction or copy of an existing piece. Only those who are lucky enough to have intimate access to the original can make a close reproduction.The rest of us make pieces "in the still of" or based on a particular piece or pieces. I suppose if you have really good measured drawings and photos you might build a reproduction but there is usually too  much information missing.

dlb

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2010, 09:35:38 AM »
Figure out what the vocabulary of design is for the era you want and then mix and match. That's what they did in the period. Design books were a guide-Al
Al,
Can you provide an example of this?
Thanks,
dlb
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albreed

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2011, 06:17:09 PM »
dlb- I was thinking more generally as far as Rococo design is concerned, but if you look specifically at mirrors, for instance, look in Nutting's Furniture Treasury or a book specifically on mirrors, you'll see that the basic vocabulary of these things is a combination of what I would call volutes, fillets, elliptical sections, arcs and ogee curves.
Depending on the size of the mirror glass, these elements are assembled in a modular sort of way in order to create a crest and base for the mirror, usually in a triangular assemblage with the high point in the centers and tapering to the corners. The crests and bases are blended into the vertical sides of the mirror with "ears" that are usually the same size for the crests and bases.
To design your own period style mirror, have a couple of photos of old ones to refer to, lay out some rough guidelines for "pediment" and "base" and link some of the above elements together using the same basic proportions and massing as the old examples. The old ones all have the same elements in common, they're just arranged in different ways. Different cities preferred different styles, as in other furniture forms. Lots of these came over from England, and even some of the labelled Colonial ones were just being imported by the labellers.
The more flamboyant rococo designs seen in ornate carved mirrors, overmantles and girandoles are an even looser assembly of rococo elements as seen in Chippendale, Locke, Thomas Johnson and others. Carvers put these more ornate elements together to suit their own style, combining plates of Aesop's fables, biblical scenes and scrolls, rocks, trees and Oriental elements together to create some wild stuff in the rococo style. See Helena Haywards book on Thomas Johnson for the real research into this design source attribution stuff.-Al
Allan Breed

John Cashman

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Re: looking glass
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2011, 11:05:16 PM »
I'm curious about how the glass was held in these mirrors, what kind of backs and so forth. I've never seen any details about construction of the reverse. Anyone?