Making the British Pullman sign.

It’s certainly exciting to get a call from Belmond.

Our worlds have been entwined over the decades. From the very beginning, with the making of the original Pullman Cars, each carriage in their own style to the present day. Things have changed too. There used to be endless envelopes arriving with different ideas and designs, the fax machine working away. To now, where the simple click of an email holds everything you could possibly need and if there are any questions, it can be answered by the end of day. My dad always said “It only takes a phone call” and the exciting thing was, we never knew when we would be receiving that call. The phone call that would be the start of a new project. The excitement of receiving a new commission is still the same today, the brain goes into instant overdrive of the possibilities and achievements, but it comes in a different form of an email. It is by no far a bad thing. It is in fact very simple. I received the design work via email, which I then sent to a printer’s (via email!), who I found on the internet. A few days later, the photocopies arrived with “tags” so I knew where to join the papers. Once the veneers were picked, all in 0.5mm thick, I was ready to go.

I first begun with cutting the letters out. Boxwood was the chosen veneer for these. Even though there was only one panel to be made, I would still cut the pieces (in this case, letters) by at least 3, sometimes by 5. This is just in case of any breakages or damages before it heads to the pressers. Letters use to be my nemesis! They have haunted me since my early days of being an apprentice marquetry cutter. They were one of the first jobs I had to do solo after my dad died. Knowing I could not turn to him for help or guidance, I would have to cut and re-cut them until they were good enough. Even though they are good enough now and I do not have to re-cut them or even taking a deep breath before I start cutting. There is always the knowledge of those early days in the back of my mind when I begin. However, there is always a smile when I finish cutting. I turn the letter over. Checking the lines, looking for any mistakes as my competition is a laser cutter via computer and its lines are going to be perfect!

Once all the letters have been cut, the background is then prepared up. For this panel, sapele was chosen. A copy of the design work is glued to a spare front. Here the letters that I have cut are drawn around. I then cut out the background letter shapes. Once they are all cut out, I insert the boxwood letters. Each letter is held in place with veneer tape. Veneer tape has glue on one side which is activated when wet and a dry side on the other. As the front is now cover in veneer tape, we turn the inlay over and check everything over. Once we are happy, we head to the pressers. After the inlay is pressed, we slightly damp the veneer tape, this re-activates the glue and peels off. Once all cleaned and sanded up our job is done and I drop the panel off with the polishers.

I can only relax once the panel has been delivered!