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How To Create Marquetry

Marquetry, the art of inlaying veneers of woods or natural material onto a body of timber, is reputed to have been used since the Egyptian and Roman eras. It became popular in the 17th and 18th centuries when period Cabinet Makers used the technique to enhance the exquisite furniture created in the ‘golden age’ of Cabinet Making.

Thin layers of timber or other materials such as Mother Of Pearl are intricately carved and placed flush against the surrounding surface of the Marquetry-inlaid piece; these thin strips of material are called veneer.

Creating A Marquetry Steam Locomotive for a Memory Box
Initial Walnut Veneer Panel   Cabinet Maker inlaying the Marquetry   Marquetry Steam Locomotive Outlined

(Click on an image to enlarge it)
The Steam Locomotive outline has been prepared by a Wheathills artist.
Using a fine scalpel the relevant piece is cut from the Walnut veneer to be replaced by the Marquetry piece of, in this instance, Dyed Lime. After a section has been built up it is held in place with Veneer Tape

Marquetry Engine being built up Sand Scorching Technique Marquetry Rivets for the Steam Locomotive Engine

The ‘Pipe’ of the Steam Locomotive is in situ, and note the sand-scorched technique used to shade the front (right hand side) of the pipe. A piece of veneer has been dipped in hot sand for a certain length of time to achieve this effect, the longer the time left in the hot sand the darker the appearance.

The marquetry is being laid back to front, ie the surface you are seeing here is the reverse. This technique is used to minimize the hairsbreadth gap between the cutout area and the inserted piece; veneer scalpels are thinner at the tip of the cutting blade than further up the cutting blade (think of a V cross section), so the reverse laying reduces any gap to the absolute minimum. After the Marquetry work has finished the front surface is secured with Veneer Tape, reverse side has the tape removed and is attached to the surface of the Memory Box and when secure, the tape on the now upper surface is removed.

Marquetry Wheel Rim being attached The completed Marquetry Panel The finished Marquetry Memory Box

This Exquisite Memory Box can be viewed here, and a selection of our Marquetry Boxes here

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