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The Coat of Arms of the London Borough of Hackney
by Alf Murtell

Animation Alf tutorials 3

The origins of this article were a piece written by Derek Austin and Alf Murtell for the Marquetarian in the early 1970's. The working title was: THE COAT OF ARMS OF THE LONDON BOROUGH OF HACKNEY

When the Hackney Borough Council asked us (the East London Marquetry Group) to put on a Marquetry Exhibition, the Group felt that it would be appropriate to make a presentation of the Coat of Arms in Marquetry.

Our attempts to find a suitable picture showing the layout did not meet with much success, the best we could do was a print of approximately 1½" square, with a very vague colouring (don't forget that this was in the days before people had computers and access to the internet)

Derek Austin did further research and we were eventually able to get some detail on the make-up of the coat of arms and colour.

Alf and Derek with the Hackney coat of arms plaque 4
Alf & Derek displaying the finished Coat of Arms

Fred Root volunteered to enlarge the original drawing to a size of approximately 18" x 12½", he also ran off a number of copies of the enlarged drawing. One of these copies was then painted with water colours to give us a guide for the veneers to be used for the project.

This was then cut out and pasted onto a sheet of green cardboard. Our original intention was for the background to be Bird's Eye Maple, dyed in a weak solution of Sulphate of Iron, to give a pale greenish colour, this was not a success, as the colour was not right and it also clashed with the other veneers. We had to revert back to a piece of un-dyed Bird's Eye Maple.

Group members then selected the parts they wished to cut, and these were brought along to meetings in order that comparison could be made with other sections. No great difficulty was experienced. The outside mantle was made of Padauk and Sycamore, with sand scorching where necessary. The Tower consisted of dark harewood standing on a grass mound. The fragmentation method of dyed green veneers was used to give this effect. The helmet consisted of various shades of harewood. The outer shield was in Sycamore with wavy dyed blue veneers to represent the rivers and canals flowing through the Borough.

The inner shield was mainly of black veneer and Sycamore, with suitable veneers for the trees and bells. Whilst it may sound as if a lot of dyed woods were used, it must be remembered that we had to keep as near as possible to the colour of the original coat of arms approved by the College of Arms.

The completed parts were then cut into the background veneers, and glued to a piece to a piece of chipboard 15" x 21". This board was then let into a further piece of chipboard 19" x 25" but standing proud by ¼". The outer boards were veneered in Makore. The finish was in Rustin's Plastic Coating. When the plastic coating was applied to the Padauk, this veneer started "bleeding" very badly, and some hasty first aid repairs had to be carried out before it stained the Sycamore. I have never experienced this happening so much to Padauk when I have used it in other pictures I have made. A suitable engraved plate was fixed to the bottom.

The Coat of Arms now hangs in the Council Chamber at hackney Town Hall.

I would recommend that other Groups attempt this type of combined Marquetry, not necessarily a Coat of Arms, but a picture.
All members can participate, even the newest members, even if it means only cutting stringers and borders.

The following members helped in the making of this project: K. Daniels, G. Knowles, A.T. Murtell, F. Root, I. Strugnell, D. Austin, D. Townrow, and R. Wiles.

Alf and the London team 7
Some of the East London Group team that worked
on the Coat of Arms

The members seen in this photo are, from left to right:
G. Knowles, A.T. Murtell, D. Austin, F. Root, K. Daniels
and seen sitting from L - R: G. Clarks, W. Cook, E. Kennedy.



We have been able to keep an average attendance over the past few months, and a varied programme. One item that proved of interest was a model that Fred Root had made from an idea that he had seen in a hobby magazine many years ago. The basic set up was similar to a wooden sawing horse: at one end was a small table which held a piece of paper; the table was mounted on a pivot and motivated by a pendulum; at the opposite end of the model was a holder with a felt tip pen, this was also mounted on a pivot and governed by a pendulum. The pen was placed on the paper and the two pendulums were set in motion. The swinging of the two pendulums working in natural harmony produced a design. By controlling the speed of the pendulum a design was able to be regulated. Whilst this was not marquetry, I do believe that with some adjustments to the designs they would be suitable for geometrical marquetry.

Some of us went to Croydon Group for their annual Group Competition. Derek Austin being asked to judge the competition. A good standard of work was on display, with some very good original ideas, breaking away from the standard sapele borders. Suitable refreshments and food were made available during the evening. Thank you, Croydon, for your hospitality.

Derek Townrow, Ken Daniels and Fred Root have been assisting Derek Austin in the making of Balmoral Castle, this forming part of the mural that is being made by the London Group. This proved an interesting exercise, with these members having a portion of the castle to complete. Each meeting, progress was compared, and any adjustment made. The final marrying of the three sections was left to the expertise of Derek Austin, who also added some fine detail work. The final picture was a credit to these members. Well done!

Our best wishes for the New Year are extended to all members and hope that we shall have the pleasure of meeting some of you at the National in April.

(a few further notes concerning the Silver Jubilee mural) All our recent work and meetings has been concerned with the Silver Jubilee panel. It has now been finished and delivered. Some high pressure work starting on December 15th and Shadbolts gluing and sanding on the same day, the addition of an ebony edging around the panel and off to Horwood's of Silvertown for the polishing for two days and finally the photographer. Derek Austin and I (this is the legendary Charlie Good speaking by the way) delivering the finished work on December 22nd to Buckingham Palace. How about that for a week's work?

December 15th:- Our "Three Veneer Competition". Well supported in the competition. A number of very good pictures entered with the winners as follows:


Mr H. Pedder.................................."Winston"
2nd Mr K. Churchill.........."Burning the Midnight Oil"
3rd Mr T. Brewer......................"On a Dutch Canal"

Derek and Alf with the demonstration board
Derek & Alf display a demonstration board to a group
of marquetry enthusiasts.

We hope you have enjoyed reading these historical notes concerning the original East London Marquetry Group. The notes were all written in the early 1970's and provide a good insight into the activities of the group's at the time. They certainly seemed to be a very active and dedicated bunch of marquetarians - I hope they would approve of today's efforts - I think they would!

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