Web Design, Murals, Fine Art, Faux Finishing

A Mirror Frame Project Featuring a Custom Faux Walnut Inlay

Faux wood grain inlay
Faux walnut wood grain

Faux Finish Marquetry

Walnut Woodgrain Inlay Naples Fl

Marquetry is an art form that dates back hundreds of years and is still practiced today.

mirror mirror

Not long ago I received a call from a business acquaintance of mine, Susan Swanson of AlDecor Custom Framing here in sunny Naples Florida, and she had a client that imported custom made credenza from Italy with some beautifully done marquetry work. Her client wanted a matching mirror to accent this beautiful piece but since it was of a unique design they were having a problem locating a framed mirror that would match the credenza.

Being that I have been known to solve a problem or two in my day with marquetry and woodgraining  Susan called me up with a rough draft in the hand of a custom design for a framed mirror they were looking for, but they were also wanting to match the marquetry and woodgraining that accentuates the credenza as well

I thought I’d take this chance to let my blog readers go “behind the scenes” with me as I post the progress of this project. I also want to let everyone know the importance of networking and how it can be such a powerful source for accomplishing something that might seem impossible at times.

I belong to many networking groups on and offline, but one in particular,  The Naples Group is where Susan and I first met. Business networking amongst several groups is very important and should be a part of everyone’s marketing efforts because you never know when an opportunity may arise when you are able to help someone such as Susan and I have. Sometimes the reward goes far beyond anything monetary,  so bear with me on this post the story gets better.

Susan came up with a custom design for the framed mirror and asked if I could match the marquetry design of the walnut woodgraining inlay to match the design of the credenza. Well first off, I would like to thank Susan for commissioning me for this project but even considering my extensive background in Old World Faux this would be an especially challenging project. However, everyone, including my close friends know I love a woodgraining challenge, especially if it involves marquetry and Trompe L’Oeil details, so I immediately went to work and came up with a design. When the client saw the first rendering, she instantly fell in love with it right away.

From Design to Reality
Cherry wood frame

Keep in mind I’m an artist and not a carpenter so one of the things we needed for the marquetry woodgraining project was a custom-built frame based on our final custom design. We used our networking sources again and discovered a gentleman named Jim Forester of The Forester Group a local contractor who specializes in custom remodel. After touring his shop I quickly realized he can accomplish just about any kind of a custom design. He came highly recommended and I knew that he was the right choice for the job. I no sooner handed him the drawings it seemed and constructed this beautiful frame from a special cherry wood which was close to the same kind of wood that this exotic credenza was made of!  Lo and behold our mirror frame was born!

So  now the ball is in my park which is where I continue with the marquetry and woodgraining with a

Faux Walnut inlay

work based on the drawing and I will post the progress here for all who are interested. A  step-by-step process of not only the marquetry and woodgraining but also of how networking works as well.

 It takes a lot of different talents to pull off a nice project like this. Without Susan, I would have never known about it. Without Jim, I would not have such a nice frame to work with. Networking isn’t all about the people you know in your hometown either, take advantage of all the online social networks and you’ll quickly build a list of the “the best of the best” too. If you guys have a story about networking and how it helped out your projects share your comments and stories below I’d like to hear from you. After all, this just isn’t about woodgraining, marquetry and framed mirrors. You can also network with me by my Facebook and Linkedin.

As you can see the mirror frame has been masked and the marquetry design was reconfigured to fit the frame. The frame was sealed by yet another business associate who through networking that I came across who is a very talented custom design furniture builder who does a beautiful job when finishing wood. His trade has been passed down through several generations and he has been finishing furniture for over forty years. After the marquetry and woodgraining is finished he will get the frame back to do the final coats of clear to make the end result in a perfect finish. He currently does not have a website but when he does I will post it here.

Custom Mirror Frame progress
Begeinning the woodgraining

This next shot is a close up of the woodgraining layer which will take some time to do because you want the inlay part to be authentic-looking as possible…

Custom Morror Frame progress

The composition of a custom design is important, so with this section, the object was to give it a book match look. Hopefully, the client and Susan of Aldecor are watching the progress of this project and will be participating with their comments. I will email her a link…..

Well,  for this Faux Finishing Idea the marquetry is completed for this step of the process and from here it goes back to the spray booth where Frank will do his magic. First, it will be sealed to lock in the design because of the delicate work that is in place. After the sealer is dry then an overglaze and some embellishments will be applied to give it that European look like in the credenza. So far the process has moved along rather nicely and that’s because of the communication and the networking that went on to bring this to a reality for our client.

She has already posted once to the progress picture lets see what she says next….

Custom Mirror Frame Faux Walnut Inlay
Faux walnut inlay


The next two shots are the close-ups of the marquetry inlay work which is the woodgraining layer the final pictures will be posted soon and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the final result will please the client.

Custom Mirror Frame faux walnut
Faux walnut inlay


Custom Mirror Frame faux walnut inlay
Faux walnut inlay

I would love to hear from anyone of you, as to the progress shown here.

When it comes to woodgraining, marquetry, framed mirrors and custom or any other wood or painted surfaces including furniture, tile,

kitchen cabinets, and anything else that has to do with wood and/or marble work.

If you would like to stay informed of other jobs we are commissioned for, you can Opt-in at the box above for announcements of class schedules, Yes I teach too…….

Well, today was the day! With the frame completed by Frank J. Lionti of Distinction in Woods Fl Inc. expertise in the finish coats, also gave this piece an authentic-looking hand-rubbed finish. The completed framed mirror was delivered and installed through arrangements made by Susan to miss Betsey’s residence before I was to get there.

I was so nervous as I drove up to her home having not seen the final results before it was taken over by Susan. I have completed many challenges in my day and have always had great responses from all my work, but the reception that I got at the front door was one that I will remember for a very long time. After ringing the doorbell and being greeted with that smile I knew that it was a success. The glow in miss Betsey’s eyes meant everything to me which is exactly why I am in this business.  Sometimes the smallest projects will bring such huge results that the monetary part of these type of projects is not important. I do these smaller jobs even though they usually take far more time than what is budgeted, but ya know, the pay for me is seeing the happiness that it brings someone. Like I said earlier in this blog of how I was raised to believe that “Can’t never get’s nothing’ done” by my father ………I have just one thing to add here Thanks, Dad!

Custom Mirror Frame to match
Mirror matched to furniture
Custom Mirror Frame faux walnut inlay
Faux walnut inlay
faux finishing ideas,walnut inlay
Faux walnut inlay

I would like to remind everyone who has read this thread the importance of what it means to have a great team of professionals to work with. I have to especially thank Susan Swanson of Aldecor Custom Framing and to The  N.A.P.L.E.S. Group,  because if it were not for the power of being active within the community and being a part of this networking group I would have never met Susan or the wonderful new client for this marquetry and woodgraining project. I think some get so involved with their businesses that they really forget why they went into business in the first place which is where I once was when operating was running my painting company Custom Quality Painting Inc.

The client was absolutely thrilled with the end result of this

Custom Wood Grained Framed  Mirror

and how well the marquetry and woodgraining matched the credenza. Although the work involved was more than expected sometimes it isn’t about the monetary things that are important but about how huge a reward it is to see someone’s reaction to such a small thing as this. To me, there are some things that you can’t put a price on and this was one of those things.

My previous business grew to a size that was actually controlling me rather than me controlling it.  Most times in new construction I never got to even meet the owners of the large custom homes that I painted because the majority of my clients were builders. My creative energy was suffering so much that I started to lose touch with it and my father who worked in the steel mills for 32 years and my grandfather who it has been said worked the mill for over 40 years, had raised us to believe in ourselves and to follow our passion. I have been painting my whole life because quite simply its something I must do and always will do.  I have ventured on many art forms in my life and being that I am nearly 5o now, I still have more to learn, but I also have a lot to share, which is why I am hopeful of starting an open studio in November and start teaching the things I have learned over the last 30 plus years. This is one of the reasons I am back to update this post on marquetry and woodgraining to let everyone know that

Art-Faux Designs now has an open studio in Bonita Springs Fl

For more info here

Art-Faux Studios

but with today’s economic downfall financing is impossible, but then I refer to my father’s words “Cant never gets nothing done”………just as in this

Faux Finish Marquetry

Walnut woodgrain Inlay

that seemed unreachable.

25 thoughts on “A Mirror Frame Project Featuring a Custom Faux Walnut Inlay”

  1. Marquetry differs from the more ancient craft of inlay, in which a solid body of one material is cut out to receive sections of another to form the surface pattern. it is started in 16th century so all this type of work show in old age temple and caves.But in modern days this technique is very sophisticated and eye catching also using some developed tools. Your designs are rely very good. Using it in room decoration gives a big advantages.

    • Hi Alex, You have some awesome stone samples on your site but and I thank you for the compliment on the inlay design. The client was very happy with the results of this one of kind designs and wish I had more like her, she was a real joy to work with

  2. Art, Great job, but then again, “Great Work” is all I have ever seeen from you. I’m looking forward to your Slide Presentation on Saturday May 16 at the IDC “International Design Center”. Hope you have a full house at 2:00, see you then, PJ Hoover

  3. Art,

    Thank you so much for working with us at Aldecor Custom Framing. You are a true artist and your work is amazing. Your contacts that you brought into this project are the best of the best and it was a pleasure to work with Jim Forester of The Forester Group and Frank Lionti of Distinction in Woods Fl Inc. Our collaboration on this project has resulted in an amazing custom framed mirror that perfectly complements the credenza that was the inspiration for the frame design.

    Thanks also for documenting this journey on your wonderful website. It was great to see the pictures of the progress, and the final product, WOW!!

    Thank you for bringing your talent to this project. I hope we can do many more projects like this in the future!

  4. Well, being the eventual owner of this piece, I cannot tell you how excited I was to see it online. It is everything I had imagined it would be, and I cannot wait to recieve it and have it installed.

    Your portfolio represents such a variety of work, and it is all so well-executed…but I must say, I AM partial to this piece.

    Thanks for making my vision a reality.


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