Marquetry is an applied decoration that uses wood veneers in combination with other materials to create geometric designs and intricate carved scenes on the surface of wood furniture. It is a more ambitious type of decorative motif than inlay because it usually is applied to the entire surface of a large piece such as a cabinet or table, and uses repeating patterns or a combination of figures to create an entire scene. Because of the variety of figure and color, veneers are an extremely poular medium for marquetry, which makes use of different shades of wood and contrasting material such as mother of pearl, brass and ivory to create three dimensional effects.
Marquetry combines artistic expression and skilled craftsmanship, and it begins with a design or pattern. Once the pattern is drawn, color and texture are determined. Larger pieces are cut using a scroll saw, and smaller, more delicate figures are cut with a knife. If the pattern or figures are repeated, several layers of veneer can be cut at one time. Motifs include pastoral scenes, seascapes and seashells, fruit, flower, plants and geometric patterns. Three dimensional effects are created by careful selection of material and by using shading techniques. Shading is accomplished by either dipping the veneer in hot sand for a few seconds, or by pouring hot sand onto the veneer until the desired shading is achieved. Contrasting materials such as metals can be tinted with chemical washes to vary shading and contrast. Elaborate designs are delicately worked until the geometric design or picture is complete. When the design is complete it forms a single sheet which is glued to a smooth surface such as a tabletop or cabinet
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