I'm getting really close to finishing the dragon. I've only got the eye left to inlay and some touch up work on the head and neck and the spoon will be ready for a final 'once over'. To do an abalone inlay, I glue the piece in place with a dab of white glue and let it set for a couple of hours.
When the abalone dot feels good and firm, I run around the edge of it with a very fine razor knife to scribe the line I will use as my grounding boundary. When the scribing is done, I use a small chisel to pop the dot off the wood.
Next up is the grounding. In this phase of things, I level the surface for my dot to sit on and try to get it so that with the dot in place, a little less than a 1/16th of an inch of abalone remains proud of the surface. I do a careful dry fitting to make sure everything is in order before I commit to glueing it down. Nothing says disaster like having your abalone sticking up!
Although it gets a bit messy when the excess glue seeps out, I don't worry about it as long as everything still fits properly! While the glue is wet, I wipe off the excess so that life is a bit easier later when the glue hardens up. Having big lumps of hardened glue on the wood surface is hard on the tools and my patience.
When the glue has set, the dot gets filed down and softly domed to more resemble an eye. As I mentioned in an earlier post, abalone and mother of pearl both make very, very noxious dust when they are sanded and filed. If you are inclined to try your own abalone inlay at home, please wear a good dust mask or respirator and try to work outside where the dust stands a better chance of vacating your personal space!!
The dragon's head is now pretty much done and all that remains is to give him a good final sanding and touch up any little areas I'm not completely satisfied with.
If you've slogged it through these months of blogs, then you won't want to miss the next installment when I start applying finish to the spoon and this beautiful piece of 150 year old walnut flashes into spectacular life! Ok, so it's not a nail-biting final round of American Idol or a scintillating episode of Big Brother, but I guarantee it will be exciting in its own peculiar way!!
And please remember, time is a tickin' on the August 21 kick-off of the Left Coast Eisteddfod...the reason for this spoon's existance. Get yourself to the Left Coast Eisteddfod in Portland, Oregon and get tickets to win it at the event!