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Danish Rococo Tile Top Tea Table

Wm. R. Robertson

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One of the things about my work that I strive for is to make each piece I do better in some way than whatever I have done before. After doing this for 39 years Im just starting to feel like I'm finally getting it. Another odd thing is what motivates us to do something? I mean after all a lot of us might have a list of projects a mile long, some for ourselves and some for clients. Here is a little story about a little table.

In 2013 I agreed to make a miniature of a 18th c. Danish Rococo tile top tea table. These are typically painted and often have Dutch tile tops, my friend LeeAnn Chellis Wessel would do the tile and the painting. As a matter of fact she did the tile right away so this has been sitting in a drawer in my shop for a while.

This summer on my annual trip to Denmark, I have spent July there for the past 14 years. We were driving around exploring the large island of Fyn and were told to go to this antique shop and BB. Gelskov Gods is in an old Manor House located way out in the country, near impossible to find as it is not in a village or on a main road but certainly worth it when you get there.   gelskovgods



I spent a while looking through the out building filled with beautiful things and even bought two small old paintings. I sat and had a coffee with the owner and talked a bit about Danish furniture and studied the table seen over by the window.

When I got home and cleaned my shop I was inspired to do this piece table from years ago. The person that commissioned the table owns the original and sent many pictures and dimensions.


I thought what would be nice is to focus on the underside, to try capture the oxidized look of the original and do this with mostly hand tools.

Starting with the tile top I made it buy making a molding and matching the corners with a turning, of this I did use machines.



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Next, and back to that oxidized look on the bottom.  For the top I used a very fine piece of Yew that had age color about .025" into it. the sides and legs are Swiss pear.


The dovetails are cut by hand and then have the corners rounded, it looks kind of odd but that is way this table was done.


The frames for the sliding candle trays were made out of the Yew. The apron is asymmetrical as is a lot of Rococo designs.


Another interesting feature was the way the top is attached to the base. There are 4 large dowels that can be pulled out and top lifted off. I guess this might have to make it easier to transport.



Then the legs are sawn out and carved. it is interesting that half of the Rococo design is carved and half is painted, this was true of the apron too. LeeAnn is going to have fun with that.



And the finished table….


I think I achieved my goal, I even made use of the scale knots on the underside just like the original. Anyway it was a fun, quick (once I got motivated) project.


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Thank you for sharing Bill, it is a wonderful little table full of interesting details.

When I went to the Cultural museum here in Pretoria last year I noticed that quite a few of the 1700's drop leaf tables had beautiful dowels with big fancy knobs that fitted through a set of decorative end aprons into the aprons between the legs. The decorative aprons were fastened to the loose table top that fitted over and to the outside of the aprons between the legs, on these tables they were made into a feature too and not just there for pratical purposes. I will have to go hunt for my photos to have a look again, I remember being quite fascinated by this.

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OMG Bill the impossible has happened !  The table looks wonderful... of course.  It is beautiful as is... I hate to paint it we will have to suggest that the piece is displayed on a mirror to see the perfectly aged  underside of the top. But I guess now it is on me to get some paint samples done and see what I can do with the folky decoration.  Lots of testing to do first.

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Stunning detail! I don't which is the best part, the tile top, the table itself, or the underside. I can't wait to see what LeeAnn does with the painting. 

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Just wonderful, Bill! Glad I was able to see it in person. I look forward to seeing it after Lee-Ann does the painting.

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I tried to use Google's translation software with Chrome and I'm not able to translate, at least at home so I can read the details of the place you visited.  The low clouds in the one photo leaves one with the feeling of quiet, restful beauty when rising early to watch the sunrise.  It looks like you found a treasure and hopefully will visit it in future years.  Did you purchase a dutch candlestick for next years Guild School class?

I hope Lee Ann will post a photo of the project when it is finished, and I hope the person who commissioned the table has seen the progress on the fine miniatures forum, I can only imagine their excitement in seeing its progress.

It is most enjoyable to see our artisans collaborative efforts!




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  • 3 months later...

What a stunning piece. I really enjoyed viewing the work as it progressed. I guess it's the next best thing to being a fly in your workshop :-)

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