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Building my 1852 Torres replica - creating the rosette

Updated: Dec 20, 2018

The rosette has a central motif of a Greek key with alternating bands of Brazilian rosewood and maple and the herringbone motif on either side. It is fairly wide at around 27mm, but appears even larger due to the size of the soundhole and the small body of the guitar. My replica rosette ended up being just a bit over 28mm...reasonably credible when you account for glue, etc.

I had already prepared long strips of the "ears of wheat" to be used for both the rosette and purfling. Using a hot pipe, I bent several of them to the appropriate diameters, and inlaid them into the soundboard. Of note on all Torres guitars, instead of one continuous band with the ears all going in one direction, Torres created two separate halves each in a different direction to complete the circle with the points of the ears meeting at the centerline of the soundboard. While they appear black in the accompanying photos, the dark strips are in fact Brazilian rosewood - exactly the look I was seeking. There is also a wider strip of brown which, it too, is Brazilian. I purposely selected a bit lighter veneer for this to create a little variety/contrast. That is not something seen on the original, but rather my artistic license.

The center motif - the Greek key. In all candor, the Greek key element of this was not particularly well executed by me. I had difficulties aligning and tapering the small "tiles" and splintering of the Brazilian veneer. This particular element was quite different than the Greek key designs of other Torres instruments, as well as that adorning the headstock (for that I would have a subsequent chance to redeem myself executing the more commonly seen Torres Greek key "meander"). Once again, due to the exceptional photography on the museum's website, I was able to enlarge the area in one of the photos to see the necessary detail. The light color elements of the Greek key were noticeably darker than the other light elements of the rosette (e.g., the ears of wheat) and the enlarged detail clearly showed exactly why - it was the end grain of the maple showing, instead of the edge grain on the other elements.

Original 1852 Torres rosette - end grain. Photo by Alberto Martinez

I prepared 1mm thick end grain strips of bigleaf maple and .6mm dark Brazilian rosewood veneers to create the Greek key design for my rosette. Similar to the method used to build other rosette center mosaics, I created a "log" from which tiles were cut (much like individual slices off a loaf of bread) and tapered to fit around the circle of the rosette. Below you can see the rosette in progress and a section of my completed rosette (and "ears of wheat" purfling) as compared to the original in the final photo by Alberto Martinez. As I previously stated, the execution of my Greek key was not my best effort!


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