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 Marquetry & Parquetry

What is Marquetry?

Marquetry, also sometimes called intarsia, is the art and craft of producing pictures and decorative designs by the skilful use of the grain, figure and colour of thin veneers of wood and other materials. In marquetry the design is applied to a prepared base material, unlike the related craft of inlay where decorative bandings or designs are let into a solid item for embellishment

The origins of marquetry are uncertain. However hieroglyphs and paintings indicate that veneers were cut with bronze adzes and applied to caskets in Ancient Egypt. At this time mosaic work was also widespread, so it can be imagined that it did not take long for craftsmen to start experimenting with designs formed from different veneers.

In the 14th Century marquetry developed in Northern Italy as a method of decoration for cathedrals and over the next few centuries schools developed in France, Germany and Holland. During the 16th to 18th centuries much exquisite work was produced to decorate furniture.

Today there are some professional marquetarians but it is the amateurs who produce much of the finest work. Being unrestricted by commercial concerns they are able to develop new, frequently labour intensive,
techniques to take our hobby to new standards

What is Parquetry?

Parquetry is the use of geometric designs in marquetry. It is particularly applicable to game boards, but can equally be applied to a large table or a pair of earrings.

Veneers

Method of Preparation

Veneers used to be sawn from logs, either by hand or by saw-mill, resulting in sheets of anything up to 1/4" thick and as much sawdust as usable veneer.

Today veneers are cut by heavy slicing machinery. Logs are pre-treated by soaking or steaming to soften the fibres and are then sliced by rotating the log or flitch against a blade. The cutting may be carried out at various angles to the growth rings of the log, resulting in different figures such as "crown cut", "rotary", "quartered" and "half-quartered"