by the Greeks and used widely throughout the late middle ages, the
Armillary Sphere is a celestial three-dimensional compass that was
use to chart the planetary universe. Universal Wood Products has
charted it's way to success by recreating this complex astrological
model in wood medallion for an Ottawa, Ontario, home.
Universal Wood Products' president Chris
Vogler worked with the homeowners to create the concept of the
medallion. They wanted a design that would give the floor a distinct
flair and represent their affinity for world travel. When Vogler
showed them initial designs of the sphere, which is a modified, more
detailed version of a pre-existing design the company produces, they
immediately fell in love with the idea.
Once the design was finalized, the
painstaking process of manufacturing the intricate medallion began.
The complex interwoven rings and indices of the sphere led to a
design process that lasted almost two weeks. "There was a lot of
planning just to create the design," Vogler says. With more than
1.200 individual pieces in the 42-inch medallion, everything had to
be mathematically perfect to ensure all of the pieces aligned.
After precision laser cutting, the
next challenge was assembling all the complex pieces, some as small
as 0.08 inches square. Because each piece was a different shape,
everything had to be numbered in sequence. "If you didn't number the
parts, you could have spent a month trying to figure out where they
went, "Vogler says. The cuts also had to be made in the right
direction of the grain. Each piece was cut in a way so that the
rings appear to be three-dimensional, all flowing in the same
direction around the sphere.
Also critical to the final design was
the selection of wood species. The medallion consists of more than
15 domestic and tropical species with the main field of flame red
birch. "We selected species that would give it a three-dimensional
look of shadow and highlight, and keep things from blending into
each other, "Vogler says.
After the medallion was completed at Universal Wood Products, Nino
Marte Hardwood Floors in Gloucester, Ontario, installed the
medallion and the surrounding select-and-better red oak floors,
which were stained a toned-down rosewood shade. "The hardest part of
the finishing process was to pick a suitable stain color for the
surrounding floor that would complement the medallion but not
overpower the rich colors in all of the species used to make such a
beautiful piece," Marte says.
The end result not only won the
enthusiastic approval from the homeowner, but accolades from the
voting NWFA members. "It's one of the most intricate things we've
done, and we're just thrilled that everyone else thought it was
outstanding as well, " Vogler says.