In my last post I promised to show you how I made the different elements of my dining room roombox. One week later than promised (I blame the nice spring weather we've been having), but here is the first episode:  the making of the fireplace mantel.   

Let me start with a reminder of what the room box looked like 'naked'.  In the next three posts will show you how I've made the fireplace, the mirror and the alcove cupboard.

I used this photo of an 18th century Louis XVI fireplace from a house in The Hague as my inspiration.  I was not trying to make an exact copy, but I did want it to have those 18th century characteristics and a similar 'feel'.  

Start of the fireplace mantel.  After determining the size and sketching the design on paper,  I transferred the design onto a piece of wood.  I have cut out the shapes with a saw and then used a router to create the curved and raised moulding.  

Shaping of the detail in progress.  I used Milliput to add the 'carved' detail to the mantel header.  Milliput can be shaped like clay for a while before it gets hard.  When it has cured you can cut it, drill it and file it like wood.  I use many different tools to create the end result:  dental tools, cutters, a surgical knife, files etc.  

The mantel legs are fluted and rounded using the router.  The legs consist of several elements to match the lines and shapes of the mantel header.  I could have routed both header and legs as one piece and then cut it, but that would have made it difficult to handle while routing.  

The assembled fireplace mantel.  On the bottom of the mantel legs I added plinths with the same shape as the mantel legs, just a little bit bigger.  
The mantel shelf (foto below) echoes the shape of the header.  It took me a fair amount of time to get the right shape on the shelf without it looking clumsy and out of proportion.  It was interesting to me how a job like this, which seems simple and straightforward, can be much more difficult than it appears.  

The finished fireplace mantel.   
For the marbling I used acrylic paint which I applied in layers using a cotton rag.  Layer after layer after layer of colour, until I was happy with the colour and the effect.  In between the layers and washes of paint I used clear varnish and then polished with very fine steel wool to get a shine.  I applied the veining with a fine brush, a stick and pencil.  After a final varnish I applied a coat of thin wax to give it that lovely shine which marble has.  

Next time: the making of…the mirror.

Last week I promised to show you the dining room I have been working on for several months.   It is a dining room designed in collaboration with A.Aardewerk Antiquair Juwelier after an eighteenth-century example, to display part of their collection of 18th century silver miniatures.  The roombox  was on display at the TEFAF Maastricht art and antiques fair last month.  

Apart from the beautiful antique silver miniatures, the roombox (including the fireplace, the mirror and the table) was entirely made by me.