First, the wood is turned on a lathe.
Next, aniline dyes are used to penetrate the grain of the wood and give it a deep rich color. In this case, the wood is quilted Norway Maple, so the rich chatoyance of this wood, along with the heavy grain pattern, takes really well to this kind of dying process.
We draw the design right on the wood, sometimes etching it in, if you look closely you can see the hummingbird (to the right of the masked flower) is already complete. In the case of the flower, we are using frisket that is applied directly to the wood. Working in sections we will begin to lay in the colors of the coral honeysuckle, alternately masking and re-masking certain portions to be airbrushed. When not using dyed wood we will usually shoot Golden transparent acrylics, in this case we are using opaque acrylics with a technical white base-coat to mask some of the underlying dye. Then layers of color are built up as we go.
Finally when everything has been shot we will let cure for about 5 days to let any out-gassing occur. Then anywhere from 3 to 12 coats of lacquer are sprayed on with a light buffing between each coat. After another week or so of letting the finish cure, then we wet sand using a slurry of pumice usually sanding from 1000 grit, all the way to 1800 or preferably 2000 or above. For our final buffing we use rottenstone, which is finer than pumice, the results are a deep rich shine or sheen. Make no mistake, there is a lot of hand rubbing involved, but the results are usually worth it.
Size and type of wood determine final cost as well as the complexity of the airbrush design.