Technical Library


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1640 Andreas Ruckers harpsichord, cheek detail 55K jpeg
  Flemish instrument with marbled exterior 45K jpeg
1640 Andreas Ruckers, Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments   Modern Flemish-style harpsichord with marbled exterior

A simple Flemish marbling…

One of the most common factory-standard decoration schemes for the exterior of Flemish harpsichords and virginals involved an unbroken band of imitation marble around the entire case, with larger panels on the top of the lid and flap. There was no real attempt to exactly duplicate the appearance of a genuine cut and polished stone surface. Rather, it was a simply-executed splash of color which close inspection could even reveal as crude.

The three videos below demonstrate a method of marbling using oil-based paints, then varnishing and lining. Always read the accompanying technical description.

The case is primed and the extent of the marble marked out and taped. After marbling, the top and bottom bands of case color are painted and the case varnished. Finally, the thin trompe-l’œil lines—tinted lighter and darker from the case color—are drawn.

Movie thumb 3K jpeg Movie 1K gif Marbling the harpsichord
Time-lapse of Carey Beebe marbling the spine of a Ruckers Double Harpsichord.
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Movie thumb 3K jpeg Movie 1K gif Hand-rubbed varnishing the marbled harpsichord
Carey Beebe hand-rubbing the first coat of varnish on the marbled Ruckers Double Harpsichord cheek.
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Movie thumb 3K jpeg Movie 1K gif Lining the marbled harpsichord exterior
Carey Beebe delineating the exterior marbled areas of the Ruckers Double Harpsichord
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