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Shading MOP

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It's not shaded, it's MOP and abalone, all the darker sections are abalone cut to fit inside the MOP. You can do some shading with engraving, but not to the extent I think you are hoping for with that inlay, generally different colors of shell are used for shades, or different hues of the same shell, typically no 2 pieces look quite alike in terms of color :D

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What LGM said..

True shading is really an engraving thing. It takes a long time, and tons of little "pricking" in an area to make it look right. That said it can be accomplished with shell in a number of ways also... I have done shading before with lettering using black pearl as an effect.


The lettering is gold pearl, the shading black pearl, and the little western style bullets are silver wire. I then engraved the small triangles underneath with a graver tool. A dremmel is the last thing to engrave with unless you are really hollowing out a large area and filling it with epoxy. I would rather cut pieces for effect at that size though.


The shading on this piece was three fold, black pearl for the darkest areas, gold pearl for a more skin tone look, and MOP for the brightness. His hair and facial hair is also varying pieces of pearl, to add to the effect.


For a shade effect on this one, bestgandalf.jpg

Gandolfs hat is actually three seperate pieces of black pearl. The top one is lighter, and the bottom pieces darker.

The cool part though is when you move him around the bottom pieces "light up" making it look like there is "magic" coming out from under his hat :Dfinishedgandalftop.jpg


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Hi Jeremy,

there are a few site on the net that clain they can dye pearl,abalone and paua to any color you like and I guess that is what this guy is looking for, but it is that REALLY thin stuff you had warned us all about a few months ago.As soon as I find the link again I will send it to you

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Yes, the dyed abalone etc is not worth using, the colors look beautiful, but I don't even really consider it dye, it's nothing more than basically a transparent stain over top of the shell. Shell isn't impervious to liquid, but it's pretty damn close, you could never stain to any depth on shell that wouldn't wear off almost immediately. That stuff is from Inlay USA I believe, they also fill in hollows with epoxy and other imperfections, it's a really poor way to do things IMO.

Real inlay artists look close at all the different pieces of shell they have and try to use the natural color and beauty to create the shading that they desire. Wanna-be's use paint on an inlay, remember, paint is an overlay, not inlay, paint on an inlay is still just paint on an inlay.

Having said that, I'm sure people will comment about the colored paper under clear plastic inlays that I've done, and before anyone says anything, I don't like those, I think they are tacky, but sometimes it's all you can do to do the job, it's still a real inlay, just a different method. It will never look as good as a solid inlay whether with shell, wood, or even colored synthetics, it will always look odd to me.

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LGM, Don't discount the backer of a different color idea with the plastics, etc.. I know Larry Robinson has done that technique with acrylics as well.

I am about to do it with a jade green plastic, I just need to make sure it will adhere to the glue first.

I want to get the color bleed through of gold through green. The only way I know to do that is by coloring the backs of the material.

I also know artists that use a mix of black NGR stain, and other materials to give a black shade stain, however it is only good under a finish, it wil rub off obviously with playing on a fretboard. I have not tried it yet, but will soon. It is actually a true looking "shade" It may fade with time though, and appear to be non-existant.


You have been doing a lot of great stuff lately!

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I didn't really mean that, I just meant the neon colored paper under clear plastic looks pretty cheap. I saw a nice Takamine acoustic that had an eagle inlay around the soundhole, it was kind of a cheap looking inlay but still looked good, the only part that really sucked was for the talons, they used gold foil underneath clear plastic about 1/16" thick. I have no problem with using a different color backer to change the shade of a colored material, I just always thought the neon Ibanez inlays looked goofy.

I have thought about using transparent paints in my airbrush for shading and coloring on inlays that will be cleared over, like headstocks and stuff, it would still let the shell show through, but give an extra dimension. But again, it's not something that would work well on a fretboard :D

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I suppose the comment about wanna-be's using paint sounded a little harsh, what I was referring to was an inlay artist (and I hesitate using the term artist) who used to do Jem style vines and would do the inlays with the frets still in. He would inlay the leaves half assed, and paint the vine stem on, or inlay a full section of shell and paint detail on. He would also just use paint to cover the original dots rather than removing them properly. As some of his customers will attest to, it didn't take long for the paint to wear off of the fretboard and leave you with a rather poor looking job.

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The term inlay artist is a funny thing.

Yes it's woodworking, and yes it's shell, but it does all start with a drawing, and ideas.

It is art in the purest sense.

Low quality does ruin any piece of art. We all know the result. He will get less jobs in his future, and get a bad reputation.

Were only as good as our latest piece.

I live by that.

I know others here do as well.

Just some thoughts on a Friday night.. :D

I hope to have a 50 or so piece seahorse done by Monday. Pics soon B)


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How's about an "in progress" pic later tonight?

I have it all put together- just needs routing-glueing-engraving.

Gee.. This is a bigger project than I thought. They all seem more complex these days!

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