Marquetry Cutting Styles #4: "Painting in Wood"

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 05-03-2012 12:58 AM 5749 reads 7 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Classic Style Part 4 of Marquetry Cutting Styles series Part 5: Conical Cutting on the Chevalet »

At last I have photos to describe one more saw cutting marquetry style. I’m new to this one and didn’t feel up to trying to describe it without good photos.

The “Painting in Wood” style of marquetry cutting dates to early 17th century France and gets its name from the relationship of the typical subject material to the work of the painters of the period. The brightly colored baskets of fruit and flowers typical of many pieces of this period are examples of this style.

In terms of actual cutting, painting in wood is similar to Boulle style in that all colors are stack cut at one time together with the background. The difference is found in the way the packet is assembled and the product that is ultimately created.

In Boulle style you may remember, the packet was assembled of full sheets of each color and the result was several similar motifs with “mix and match” colored elements. This was an efficient use of veneer if the product was to be a geometric or graphic pattern where colors were not critical. Often both the positive and negative motifs were used and no waste at all was left over.

However if the subject matter was color critical as in an object from nature like a plant, flower or animal the Boulle style would produce a lot of waste veneer.

As the typical motifs found in painting in wood pieces are both color critical and often quite large, a more material economical method of packet assembly was needed. The answer was to make the packet layers out of pieced together bits of the required veneers and to fill the unused spaces with a cheap waste veneer, often softwood. Pictures will describe this better than words. I apologize for my picture taking sequence here. I didn’t think to photograph the layers until after the cutting was done but they will show the process just as well.

The following are the six layers I used to cut this motif. It is a very tricky process to make sure you have all the colors you want, where you want them, somewhere on one of the layers. I’m very new at this style and I’m sure a more experienced marquetreur would be more efficient but I think you will get the idea.

This photo shows an area of Bloodwood, some Amaranth (Purpleheart) and three small areas of dyed black. The “waste” veneer on all layers is some paper backed Walnut that I have a quite a bit of lying around.

The second shows the dyed yellow that will be the flowers and the Poplar that will be the sash and the bow.

This one has the dyed green for the leaves and some more black.

The last of the black

The Mahogany for the flutes

And finally the Birdseye Maple for the ground.

When the cutting is finished, there remains only one motif but with much less waste than if the layers had been solid sheets of each required veneer species. Please excuse this last photo. The pieces are just placed together and some are a bit curled.

That’s one more covered. Thanks for looking.

As always comments, critiques and questions are encouraged.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

27 comments so far

View Schwieb's profile


1891 posts in 3940 days

#1 posted 05-03-2012 01:08 AM

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I am so amazed by your talent. I wish I could learn to do what you do so very well. Thanks for giving some further insight to the world of marquetry

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View a1Jim's profile


117711 posts in 4056 days

#2 posted 05-03-2012 01:09 AM

wow Paul That’s one amazing work of art. Beautiful.

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 3140 days

#3 posted 05-03-2012 01:11 AM

Paul, I’m always amazed by your marquetry skills. You seem to be the master in all styles of marquetry.

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3782 days

#4 posted 05-03-2012 01:14 AM

well i think i sorta see how this is done, but the very small ones, like the white ring around the instrument…im not sure Paul…lol…..maybe you need to make a grizz carrier that can go next to Lucy for your trip back home, so i can come along and see if i can learn this…lol…would Lucy mind…ps, ok wrong color, its yellow, and…wow this is tedious work…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10696 posts in 4531 days

#5 posted 05-03-2012 01:29 AM

Paul, thank you very much for taking the time to take those pictures during the Marquetry process!


It’s truly amazing how that can be done…

Thanks again.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View SisQMark's profile


384 posts in 3078 days

#6 posted 05-03-2012 01:38 AM

A remarkable art form you have mastered quite gracefully Paul. Whenever I need some inspiration I just look at your projects. Your work is masterful & your skill is second to none. Thank you for sharing your talent with us, it gives us a higher appreciation for this art form.

-- Don't waste today, it is yesterdays tomorrow!~SisQMark

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4458 days

#7 posted 05-03-2012 01:41 AM

Hey Paul,

Beautiful work!

You’re a master.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3169 days

#8 posted 05-03-2012 02:15 AM

You are an artist. Keep posting these as they are the epitome of wood artistry.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3787 days

#9 posted 05-03-2012 03:50 AM

Absolutely fantastic…Definitely an art and you have learned it quite well.

View stefang's profile


16715 posts in 3813 days

#10 posted 05-03-2012 09:58 AM

Beautiful work Paul. Your progress with this marquetry work is truly amazing. I have seen this technique before as demonstrated in the last FWW issue by Paul Shurchz (maybe misspelled name). I wouldn’t mind trying this some time on my scroll saw, but it is probably better done with a Chevalet like yours. Do you think a no. 2 blade is small enough for this kind of work?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4231 days

#11 posted 05-03-2012 10:20 AM

It makes my head hurt to think of the patience it takes to do this type of artistry.

Beautiful work.


View Brit's profile


7788 posts in 3321 days

#12 posted 05-03-2012 10:39 AM

Thanks for the clear explanation. This series is a great resource.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3716 days

#13 posted 05-03-2012 11:24 AM

That’s beautiful! I’m always impressed by your attention to detail.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Roger's profile


21010 posts in 3283 days

#14 posted 05-03-2012 11:43 AM

Very beautiful, tedious, and just amazing. Thnx for the explanation

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4360 days

#15 posted 05-03-2012 12:32 PM

You’ve got mad artistic skills. Patience I can do, but wow, I have trouble doing a curved line. I can really appreciate the work that goes into this.

Very nice Paul, thanks.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

showing 1 through 15 of 27 comments

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