FANTASY MARQUETRY #1: Planning, Drawing and Veneer Selection

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Why am I blogging this?
This will be my second marquetry using veneers. This one will be much more difficult than my first recently finished practice project (shown below) assigned to me by Paul aka Shipwright . It is probably too advanced for me at this stage and I will probably make a lot of mistakes, but I am hoping it will be a great learning experience if nothing else. My thought is that if you are at all interested you might enjoy seeing me stumble around in the dark for a couple of months while I work my way through this project and it will help motivate me to do my best so I won’t look too dumb.

I plan to use my new Chevalet for this project, but with the method I am using it could just as well be cut on a scroll sawl. So I hope you will join me and maybe have some laughs and who knows, you might even learn something if you’re lucky.

Selecting a motif
I wanted to do something original this time. I’m not artistically inclined, but my son Mark is. He does a lot of fantasy work and I liked this little wizard sharing quality time with his small dragon. I told him I hoped he didn’t mind my murdering his artwork and he said that it would be my art too since it was being done in a different medium. A very generous reply that warms an old dad’s heart.

Producing the marquetry drawing
This turned out to be a lot more difficult than I expected. The order of work on this is:

  1. I took a photo of the drawing from my computer’s photo gallery and exported it a program ‘Rapid Resizer’.
  2. Next I resized the photo and made it shades of gray so I could see the contrasts as an indication where different colored veneers would be used and to make it easier to trace (1st photo below).
  3. The enlarged picture was then taped onto my light table and a blank paper tape hinged over it for tracing.
  4. The first tracing I did (2nd photo below) was way too detailed and really discouraging.
  5. I decided that this project would have to be simplified and done in several stages with the first stage being a sort of background for the details (3rd photo below) which would be added after the first cutting.

I may simplify this last drawing even more by eliminating the clouds and the folds in the wizard’s robe. This will help give grain continuity to the sky and also the robe.

Selection of background veneers
My thought process on the selection was as follows:

  1. Stay as true to the original artwork colors as possible.
  2. Use the lighter background colors first.
  3. Make the selection from veneers I had on hand.

Luckily I had ordered some blue and green dyed veneers. I am not too thrilled to use dyed veneers because I prefer natural wood colors to make it obvious that the picture is made from wood. However, I realize that this picture would fall pretty flat without the blue and green colors and so I’m trying to conquer my prejudice for the sake of the artwork.

Here are the first veneers I’ve selected. Others will be added at a later stage. As you see I have numbered them since I haven’t a clue about all the different species. I do have a book of marquetry veneers by William A. Lincoln so I do plan to identify them in due course and I will include their names in this blog later.

The veneers shown are in sequential order starting with #1 at the bottom of the photo. You can compare these colors with the photo if you want to see if you like my selection, but remember other colors will be added later.

I welcome any suggestions you might have about anything I have done so far. I’m much more in the learning mode than the teaching mode here, so your comments will be appreciated whether negative or positive. My next blog will be about preparing the veneers for cutting, the method I plan to use and preparing the packet.

Thanks for looking in and I hope there is something interesting here for you.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway

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It is fun Brian and not as messy as regular woodworking projects. I hope you will give it a try to see if you like it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway

Good luck with this. I can’t wait to see the results. I just realized I was given a box of veneers a while back from my aunt, whose father was a cabinet maker. It was more of a curiosity sort of thing. They’re samples from a long closed specialty lumber yard in the Bronx where he bought materials. It contains 60 or 70 samples of exotic stuff and they’re all about 10″ × 4″ x very thin, maybe 3/32" or 1/8". Now my juices are flowing!

-- Losing fingers since 1969

True Abbas, but the dragon marquetry was solid wood about 1/4" thick and I cut a piece at a time on my scroll saw using a modified window method. This is different as I am using veneers which will be patched into a packet with several layers and cut on the chevalet. Completely different method and materials which is new to me.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway

This one is more difficult than the practice box but you have done much more complex than that.

Will be following progress try to catch some tips.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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