Combining my Passions: Friendship Marquetry. #4: Choosing and Preparing the Background

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 04-30-2013 12:43 AM 2339 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: More Pieces,... Hull and Sails Part 4 of Combining my Passions: Friendship Marquetry. series Part 5: Cutting and mounting the backgrounds. »

One of the advantages of pre-assembling on clear shelf paper is that you can pick up the whole marquetry piece and place it over a variety of backgrounds to find the best look.

Almost any light veneer with some character will do for the sky and I had some mild birdseye maple that worked well. For the intervening land (Saltspring Island and Separation Point for locals) I wanted to use some myrtle burl that I had. It had dark and light areas to indicate depth of field as well as some grain lines that were close to simulating the terrain I wanted. I also had two in sequence…...but first I had to find some ocean.

The available choices were reduced by the both by the required size of the pieces and the fact that I wanted two sequence matched leaves to keep the images a perfect mirror. First I looked at some spaulted beech. It had some wonderful grain around the boat but was way too busy and could never work on this piece.

Next I looked at some Cherry from my first pizza box of veneer from Lee Valley. It works but seems to lack drama.

Those were all the choices that I had at home ….... but I have a friend. Elaine is not only a friend and neighbor (ten minutes) but a mentor and the owner of an impressive stock of veneer.

After looking through her stock and and discussing various options I came home with the oak shown below. It doesn’t look much more dramatic than the cherry did but I think the coarser grain will look a little better once finish is applied.

Next up was to cut the myrtle burl along some of its natural grain lines, re-assemble it and mate it to the other background pieces. This will give an idea of how the final pieces will look.

Finally the pattern had to be accurately located on the assembled backgrounds and then separated at the joint between the oak and the myrtle. This is because the 26” height of the whole background wouldn’t cut in my chevalet’s 18” saw frame. So Here’s the packet to be cut tomorrow morning. It will have the final say about how well I cut the boat pieces.

Much of this is easier than it may look, just a process of following the steps and putting one foot ahead of the other. What really makes this one interesting is the mirror image thing. When paper re-enforcing on the good side, the good sides are not the same but opposite sides. When assembling packets The veneers go good side to good side, not all good sides up as usual and last but certainly not least, each background piece only fits its own background group. They are not interchangeable like all the other parts. I won’t really breath easily until all the background cutting is done and assembled with the marquetry.

I’m done for tonight. Tomorrow will be an interesting day …. wish me luck.

Thanks for looking in,


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

13 comments so far

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4894 days

#1 posted 04-30-2013 12:59 AM

Thats coming out nicely Paul, Can’t wait to see whats next.

View tinnman65's profile


1411 posts in 4385 days

#2 posted 04-30-2013 01:17 AM

Nice job Paul. I think you made the right choice with the oak, it looks like the boat is cutting right through the water. I look forward to the next post.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3893 days

#3 posted 04-30-2013 01:59 AM

I like your choice of the sea. You showed the rough heavy weather and the calm weather… Your experience at sea counts very much. Impression of using the calm weather sea plus the visible mountain make it so realistic. The first time I see the effect of the grain patterns on the art. If the sails (boat) was leaning to starboard or port and some listing and pitching, then the first choice with curly grains is best suited but you have to take out the mountains because in reality, if there is a heavy weather, only clouds can be seen or sometimes no visibility at all. Thanks.

-- Bert

View Roman - THE BOOTMAN's profile


1059 posts in 3657 days

#4 posted 04-30-2013 02:02 AM

A masterpiece in the making! It will be worth the wait to see the final stage to completion.

-- Author of POWER CARVING BOOTS & SHOES - Schiffer Publishing. Available online or your favourite bookstore.

View rance's profile


4274 posts in 4131 days

#5 posted 04-30-2013 04:09 AM

You’re a real artist at work. I’d have just used what I had lying around.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 4800 days

#6 posted 04-30-2013 04:37 AM

Paul, I’m really getting the impression of a calm sea from that oak veneer. You are so fortunate to have Elaine and her stock of veneer nearby! Also I’m impressed that the contac paper has enough grip for you to transport the partial assembly to Elaine’s shop. I’m sure you took precautions to ensure you didn’t lose any pieces along the way, but still I would have been a bit worried.

Great progress, I’ll be looking forward to see tomorrow’s update.

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View justoneofme's profile


844 posts in 3450 days

#7 posted 04-30-2013 04:54 AM

Hi Paul … I love what you’ve done in the piecing of Myrtle wood for the background landscape! Very effective!!
Thank you for such glowing comments, and I’m glad you were able to fine what you were looking for in my ‘candy shop’ of veneers! Your artistic eye knew at first glance that Oak would be perfect for your needs. I feel honoured having the advantage of seeing this beautiful project take shape in person. Not even finished, this is something to behold!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 3766 days

#8 posted 04-30-2013 04:56 AM

Great tutorial type of presentation. Thanks for sharing your methods so clearly.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View shipwright's profile


8638 posts in 3768 days

#9 posted 04-30-2013 05:50 AM

Mat, The whole secret to Contact paper, that I have just discovered is keeping it covered when you aren’t actually placing something on it. Exposure to the air seems to dry it out and kill the tack.

Elaine, Thanks for noticing the way the myrtle burl worked out. I’m very happy with that bit. If you reverse this view, as will be done when this is glued up, the nearer headland looks a lot like Separation Point from my front yard.

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4305 days

#10 posted 04-30-2013 10:48 AM

I like all your veneer choices for this picture Paul. It’s coming together very nicely. I think that choosing veneers must be a large part of the fun and artistry of marquetry work. You are luck to have Elaine nearby with her readily available veneer stash and expertise. Your blog on this is excellent and it is nice to follow how you make your ongoing decisions as you work.

I have used that shelf covering quite often lately and I really like it because patterns can be easily glued to the dry side (I use glue stick) and the adhesive side holds very well, but is also very easy to remove from the workpieces and it leaves no residue.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Schwieb's profile


1914 posts in 4432 days

#11 posted 05-02-2013 08:36 AM

You have a wonderful way of taking us through your analysis and the artistic and technical considerations to accomplish a goal and make it a learning lesson. How nice to have a marqueteer friend to collaborate with that also has a good supply of wood.

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

View mafe's profile


12844 posts in 4060 days

#12 posted 05-07-2013 11:46 AM

Looks amazing Paul.
And yes to see you doing it, makes it look so easy…
What a wonderful view you have!
Best thoughts my friend,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3837 days

#13 posted 05-07-2013 01:33 PM

When you have the talent and skill that you have, Paul, and a beautiful patio like that to meditate from, anything can be possible. I loved reading about some of the mental and artistic processes that went through your mind while working on this piece. I can’t wait to see the finished piece of work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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