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Thursday, February 22, 2018

David Boucher And Co - The Le Noeud Papillon Butterfly Tray - A Masterpiece In Craftsmanship

Over the coming weeks I will be posting more content on the tray that was designed for us by Boucher & Co but I wished to begin by showing you the finished product and taking you back to the initial concept.

I remember an old professor from my university days once said "all the best business deals usually start on the back of an envelope" and in the case of this tray, it started on a loose piece of paper that was in my studio as David Boucher stood over my cutting table trying to figure out how we could incorporate our butterfly into something which could be functionally used in the LNP Studio.

I had said that the only thing we might be able to do was to create a tray that I could use for when customers come to pick up custom made work and which I could use as a backdrop for product shots on social media. 

David asked me what kind of design was I into and I said that of all the designs I had seen of things in my life, one thing which was etched in my mind was the scalloped fluted bezel of a Rolex watch. And with that, David picked up a piece of paper and started to sketch out a design based on fluted bezel, creating a vanishing point outside the top right corner of the rectangle. 

Initially from the pencil drawing I thought to myself "yeah right, well, if he even gets close to this design I will be happy" . And literally I set my expectations very low from that point because, though I had seen some of his extraordinary work, I did not think he could achieve the complex nature of the design I put in front of him with the materials that he uses in his craft. 

At the point where David was comfortable with the design he asked me what timber veneer to use and of course I initially wanted whatever was the most luxurious, which I believe was walnut or macassar ebony. Then I was offered an alternative, would I be willing to consider an Australian native fumed figured eucalyptus. Since we were an Australian made product, it seemed more fitting to use Australian materials where possible. And so, David formed up a more formalised CAD drawing, we agreed to materials and a 'no promises' policy on the finish of the logo, and I gave him the green light and a deposit. 

Over the coming months I got the occasional email or whatsapp update with regards to the progress and I found it really captivating. This was a totally one off piece and each particular problem had to be solved as they went long. For example. how to slice the flutes and get them to line up perfectly. How to inlay the butterfly, what materials to use in the butterfly, how to finish the scalloped edges with the right timber contrast and so on. And as the project went on I started to see stingray being inlaid into the butterfly by hand, the font of the logo was somehow printed onto a piece of timber painted black, the lines around each in white carved and laid in by hand. Then there was mother of pearl add to the butterfly and a sycamore veneer used to form the base of it. At every stage I was continually marvelled by how much work went into each detail and I started to feel as though I didn't have the right to call myself an 'artisan'. These people were truly artisans and master craftsmen. They didn't shy away from any part of the design, they did not cut one single corner. If they did, I could not find it and I have been staring at it ever since. 

When David posted a video on his Instagram wall of the final product I got so excited that I started envisaging ways that the tray might never get to me and to practice the art of non-attachment. Maybe it would go down with the air-craft on it's way to Sydney. Maybe the driver will misplace the parcel. Maybe someone will steal it from the depot. Maybe it will arrive and it won't look like it did on the video.

It did arrive. With some difficulty and trepidation I might add. And as I cut open the timber box it came in I was concerned that I might be putting the box knife blade into the timber. "Slow down" I said to myself.

What a tray. What a work of art. It is up there with the few things I might like to specifically allocate in my will. It deserves an inter-generational life of being admired and looked after. In the end, the choice of materials; stingray, mother of pearl, sycamore, eucalyptus and ebony - all came together so harmoniously that I find myself gazing at it like I do when I am outside the window of a fancy watch store. There are not enough superlatives to describe it. 

Stay tuned, in the coming weeks I will be writing more on individual stages of it's production.

Boucher & Co Eucalyptus Veneer Tray For Le Noeud Papillon

The initial CAD drawing which was used to create full scale tray. 

Fumed Figured Eucalyptus Timber Veneer Used For They Trays Inlay

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