The Art of Marquetry

From an idea right through to building the finished article, you can develop that incredibly special something that is unique, not just to you, but the entire world.

There are so many patterns, shapes, colours, and personal touches that can be brought together to encompass exactly what it is you are looking for in your bespoke piano design. One of the most intricate inventions in artwork is Marquetry.

Marquetry is creating patterns using inserts of material which are inlaid into a piece of furniture, for example, a cabinet, table, or a chest. The piece of furniture, usually made from wood, has a thin layer of the surface carved out, where the veneer pattern is inserted, i.e., on the lid of the chest, or over the entire piece.

The decorative materials are bonded into the carved-out section with adhesive and then lacquered over to secure in place, providing a smooth levelled finish and clearly visible design. Designs are usually preconceived ideas with drawings and determined measurements so that the inlay materials preparation can be started in advance. Materials used in marquetry can be anything that is hard wearing or non-perishable that will be protected in its current form beneath the layers of lacquer. Organic materials such as wood, glass, shell, metal, gemstones, bamboo, reed, cloth, for example, are widely used.

Whilst modern marquetry developed in the early 16th century in Antwerp and other local territories such as Flanders, the first artifacts found to use what we call marquetry were uncovered and dated back to Roman times! This art and craft spread from the then Netherlands back down southwards to Italy, where marble was the popular choice of solid material, inlaid with other types of marble and semi-precious stones, and then into France in the mid-17th century at the time of the reign of Louis XIV, as well as broadening its range to many other countries.

‘Ébénistes,’ the French name for cabinet makers, came about during the Louis XIV era where Pierre Gole and André-Charles Boulle established a register of cabinet makers fit for royalty. Marquetry rose to popularity with high-societal aristocrats who were looking to portray opulence and luxury within their homes by showcasing original and magnificent pieces of furniture.

The art of marquetry has, of course, developed over the centuries and design outlines these days are created using CAD drawing and carved using high-tech machinery. Here at Edelweiss, we use both CAD drawing and handwork to create designs and prepare the piano for the marquetry inserts. Our first-class skilled craftspeople painstakingly bring the design to life by hand. Edelweiss can create from new, or restore from old, contact us for more information.

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