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What is Marquetry?

L. S. Wynn
By L. S. Wynn
Updated May 16, 2024
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Marquetry is an interesting craft that dates back to the early 1600s. It employs the arrangement of thin layers of contrasting materials to create designs. Although wood is the most common material used in marquetry, alternatives are sometimes used including mother of pearl, metal, bone or ivory.

Wood marquetry usually includes various species of wood which gives the craftsperson a diverse palette of colors from which to choose. The thin strips of wood that are used are called veneer. To create a work of marquetry, carefully cut pieces of veneer are glued onto a rigid base. Some examples of marquetry come in the form of stand-alone works of art, but the most common versions are visible on fine furniture.

In its most basic form, wood marquetry involves the use of two or three species of wood to create a simple pattern. In more complex forms, however, many species of wood are used to create elaborate views including portraits and landscapes. The veneer can be scorched or died to add even more variety.

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