is the craft
of covering a structural carcass with pieces of veneer
forming decorative patterns, designs or pictures. The technique may be applied to case furniture or even seat furniture, to decorative small objects with smooth, veneerable surfaces or to free-standing pictorial panels appreciated in their own right. Parquetry
is very similar in technique to marquetry: in parquetry the pieces of veneer are of simple repeating geometric shapes, forming tiling patterns such as would cover a floor (parquet
), or forming basketweave or brickwork patterns, trelliswork and the like.
Marquetry (and parquetry too) differ from the more ancient craft of inlay, in which a solid body of one material is cut out to receive sections of another, to form the surface pattern.
The veneers used are primarily woods, but may include bone, ivory, turtle-shell (conventionally called "tortoiseshell"), mother-of-pearl
or fine metals. Marquetry using colored straw
was a specialty of some European spa resorts from the end of the 18th century. Many exotic woods as well as common European varieties can be employed, from the near-white of boxwood to the near-black of ebony
, with veneers that retain stains well, like sycamore
, dyed to provide colors not offered in nature.
The simplest kind of marquetry uses only two sheets of veneer, which are temporarily glued together and cut with a fine saw, producing two contrasting panels of identical design, (in French called partie
, "part" and "counterpart").
Marquetry as a modern craft most commonly uses knife-cut veneers: the knife used is therefore of paramount importance. Other requirements are a pattern of some kind, some cheap (i.e. not very sticky) clear sticky tape, PVA glue
and a base-board. Finishing the piece will require sand-paper or wire wool, possibly with a sanding block. Either ordinary varnish or the techniques of french polish
can be used to seal the piece.