Rosette Table

I made this table a couple of years ago but didn’t get around to writing about it because of health issues. It came about because I had been thinking about doing something to do with a marine theme and also something “op artish.”  I wondered if the wood textures would add or subtract from the figure and if there would be enough contrast.

Sprials are fascinating and beautiful and all over the biological world. I first thought of snails and especially the nautilus shell since I was going after something marine. But, you also find spirals over in the plant world,  such as in broccoli, composite flowers, cacti, pine cones, etc. I really liked the idea of using a spiral as a symbol of the wonder of the biological world. Of course, there it is in the night sky (spiral galaxies), so even better.

I thought of doing a snail or Nautilus or a sunflower more or less realistically with marquetry, but both images would really be about the respective creatures rather than the spiral. It wouldn’t be so symbolic or all encompassing.

I ran across an article on logarithmic rosettes by Paul Calter [1] and on its connection to the Fibonacci sequence by Dan Reich [2], and these convinced me to do a logarithmic rosette with 13 points.  Calter pointed out that in rosettes based on the logarithmic spiral all of the dark triangles are similar geometrically as are all of the light ones. This is a big advantage when cutting wood pieces on the table saw to make exact fits.

I’m very pleased with the visual aspect of the piece. As you look at the rosette, your eye (or mind) tries to fill in the missing (light) parts of the petal figures to create a whole petal (this is called “closure”). But there are four sets of petals, so your eye (or mind) is constantly moving. This is the op art part of the piece.

The two woods add to this illusion and keep your eye moving. The quilted maple (light triangles) exhibits chatoyance, as in Tigers Eye gemstones, and as you move your viewpoint slightly, the wood appears to move. The ribbon striped Sepele reflects light in alternating directions from stripe to stripe depending on your viewpoint as well. So, all in all, I found the rosette figure to be very intriguing visually and enhanced by the use of these special woods. I only wish I could show you these dynamic effects in a photo as they are in real life.

[1] Paul Calter, "How to Construct a Logarithmic Rosette (Without Even Knowing It)", Nexus Network Journal, vol. 2 ( 2000), pp. 25-31.

[2] Dan Reich, “The Fibonacci Sequence, spirals and the golden mean”,, Department of Mathematics, Temple University


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Fine furniture, Camano Island, marquetry