Marquetry is the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer, which are cut and designed to form decorative patterns. It became popular in the 17th century. The artisans were skilled and the designs were exquisite. Marquetry designed objects were very expensive and ordinary people could not afford it.
There are different types of veneers used in the art of marquetry. The veneers are classed according to the wood and also priced accordingly. Depending on the wood the veneers are cut and designed for different and exclusive patterns.
On the veneers other material like bone, ivory, turtle shell, brass, colored straw and mother of pearl are used. These materials are also used to inlay and create a unique design in marquetry. The inlay work is done so beautifully, but it takes time and effort to do a piece of marquetry.
There are light wood veneers, medium wood veneers, dark wood veneers, soft wood veneers and hard wood veneers. The wood is classified as valuable and less valuable veneers and are available at different prices. All Marquetarians are particular about what wood they work on and each has a special liking for certain types of wood.
The valuable types of wood are mahogany, rose, burl walnut, fire side walnut, and circassian walnut. Each of these types have a different grain and the wood is sawed in a different manner. This is very expensive as the marquetry work done with them is exotic!
The less valuable types of wood are elm, pine, oak, and spruce. The hard and soft veneers are used frequently. The soft wood is referred to wood which has a straight grain on it. This is the pine and pale knotted wood.
The hard type of wood is usually dense and the grain is close. Rose wood and maple wood come under this category. The grain is also coarse in the hard wood. This wood is used for all types of furniture.
The tools basically used for marquetry are the fret saw, knives, scalpels and blades, and the latest lasers. Now techniques have advanced and modern machines contribute to the art of marquetry. Many tools have also undergone major improvisations.
The double bevel marquetry technique is very famous. This technique is used with the scroll saw and the table is always tilted at a particular angle. An art with straight line geometrical patterns is known as parquetry.
The Boulle technique requires cutting all the elements of the pattern with the background done simultaneously. The classic method is where the designs or the elements are cut separately without the background. The wood for these designs are carefully chosen or kept for this purpose.
Burl wood is specially used for these designs. In the olden days, the hammering veneering method was always used to cut out veneers. The same tools were used for all types of wood but the method of handling them varied according to the designs.
Nowadays, there is braided wood veneering available. The veneer can either be a matt finish or laminated. Marquetry work done on these veneers are very rare and exquisite.
If you are a lover of marquetry there are many guides that can help you create your own design. Tools are also readily available and you could have a look at some books for ideas. The museums have a lot of marquetry work on display too. Go ahead and embellish your wooden box with marquetry designs or just buy one that is exquisitely crafted.