Marquetry – An Age Old Craft

Marquetry 1

<img.source = 'pic.gif, alt = 'Close up of French Marquetry Flowers'/>

Example of 18thC French Marquetry

Marquetry can be traced back to Mesopotamia in around 2600BC, where ivory was inset in bitumen to create a picture of daily and royal life.

The first recorded use of different wood veneers and semi precious stones to decorate furniture dates back to the court of the Pharaohs in Egypt.

The craft crossed the Mediterranean to Ancient Greece where it’s described in Homer’s Odyssey and it became even more sophisticated at the height of the Roman Empire. 


<img source = 'pic.gif' alt = 'Marquetry panelling Sorrento cathedral'/>

Panels in the cathedral, Sorrento

In the 11th Century wood veneers were being used to decorate church furniture and panels in Italy, with particularly fine examples being found in Sienna.

Sorrento has always been renowned for its wide range of marquetry pieces right up to the present day

<img source = 'pic.gif' alt = 'Close up of Boule's work'/> Boule’s work

In France marquetry became extremely popular during the reign of Louis X1V (1643-1715), where Andre Charles Boule, a master craftsman, worked in the royal workshops. He used a variety of materials…..brass, silver, tortoise shell, pewter, ebony….to create exquisite craftwork.

<img source = 'pic.gif' = 'Dutch marquetry cabinet'/> Cabinet by Jan Van Mekeren Rijksmuseum c1700

Marquetry became popular in England after 1660 following the return from exile of Charles The Second. He brought back with him Dutch and Huguenot craftsmen, who excelled at the craft.

William and Mary’s arrival from Holland in 1689, further increased the popularity of this flamboyant way of decorating furniture. Marquetry brought colour and beauty to furniture, which was in sharp contrast to the plain furniture advocated during the interregnum of Oliver Cromwell.

At this time explorers were returning from Africa and the Americas with exotic new woods such as kingwood, ebony, rosewood and satinwood, which stimulated interest in marquetry.


We can only marvel at the skill, artistry and patience of the craftsmen of the 17th and 18th Centuries, who worked with rudimentary tools to create great works of art.

A wide range of marquetry techniques have evolved over many years. so I would only scratch the surface if I attempted to discuss them in this short post.

I can only point you in the right direction by listing book titles, tutorial videos and links to marquetry societies. I hope you will also be inspired by the photos of outstanding pieces, which I have included below.

All of the following books are available through Amazon.

Book Titles

Fine art

The Art of Fine Marquetry

The Art of Fine Marquetry

Describes the tools and materials required…..

How to select the best wood for your design

The way you can shade with hot sand….

Step by step instructions on how to make a box with a marquetry top





<img source = 'pic.gif' alt = 'Two masted sailing boat in marquetry'/>

Created by James Coulter who is based in Ontario, Canada.

The reflection of the sails in the water has been achieved so cleverly





<img.source = 'pic.gif' alt = 'Book - Beginning Picture Marquetry'/>

Beginning Picture Marquetry

Beginning Picture Marquetry

Comprehensive introduction to picture marquetry.

Tools and accessories required.

Two simple, attractive projects demonstrating the basic techniques for creating pictures




<img source = 'pic.gif' alt = 'Bird sitting on twig in marquetry'/>


Created by Mohsen Kaveh. who lives in Tehran, where he has received many awards

Some of his work uses over 6000 pieces



TedsWoodworking Plans and Projects


Recommended for those people just taking up the craft.

Step by step instructions on how to create a picture.

How to cut, lay and seal.

<img.source = 'pic.gif' alt = 'Boat on a Caribbean beach'/>


This vibrant artwork has been created by Jean Paul Straub, who was born in Strasbourg, but moved to St Martins in the Antilles in 1993




<img source = 'pic.gif' alt = 'Book; Basic Marquetry and Beyond'/>

Basic Marquetry and Beyond

Basic Marquetry and Beyond

40 projects from simple bookmarks to a cone shaped bowl.

Easy to follow patterns which enable you to embellish your woodworking projects with stunning designs


<img source = ';pic.gif' = alt = 'Marquetry picture of village by Jean Spindler'/>>

This village scene has been created by Jean Claude Spindler, whose grandfather opened a marquetry workshop in a former Benedictine monastery, the Abbey of St Leonard, in the Alsatian Piedmont region of France at the end of the 19th Century.

<img source = 'pic.gif' alt = 'Book; Marquetry Techniques'/>

Marquetry Techniques

Marquetry Techniques

Comprehensive overview of tools and materials, cutting techniques, tinting and shading, banding and fillets, composition and finishing





<img source = 'pic.gif' alt = 'Antique Sorrento ware marquetry tray'/>

Antique Sorrento ware tray inlaid with silver, brass. pewter, tortoise shell and ebony



Marquetry Societies

Joining a Marquetry Society offers many benefits…..the friendship and guidance of like minded people….informative talks by leading craftsmen….opportunities to display your pieces….discounts on equipment and materials… here are the links to some leading marquetry societies…….

The Marquetry Society UK

American Marquetry Society

Marquetry Society of Canada

Staffordshire Marquetry Society UK

Suppliers of Wood Veneers

Original Marquetry Ltd

BVC Veneers

Constantines Wood Centre

B & B Rare Woods

Tutorial Videos

Copy and paste the links in your browser

Beginning Marquetry Techniques

Marquetry Windows Method

How To Create Marquetry Pictures

Geometric Marquetry Introduction

I hope you have enjoyed this brief introduction to the wonderful world of marquetry……wishing you many hours of enjoyment engrossed in this beguiling craft.


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I have written an article about the ‘sister’ craft of Intarsia which you may like to read. A summary of many of my posts can be found on my Home Page.


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I have always loved wood crafts. In my teens it was model gliders, ships in bottles, puppets, wooden toys.... Then I had to earn a crust and became a civil engineer designing and building bridges, motorways, schools...until I became a video producer. On retiring I started making dolls houses but now I am a blogger concentrating on my love of wood.

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