The Marquetry and Inlaying process in 10 steps
1. Conception of the work
Each element of the inlay is cut independently in the manner of a stained glass window. There is a background and interior elements that form the design.
Assuming that one is not an accomplished artist, all marqueters know how to draw and it is easy to trace the desired design. The drawn piece is called “cardboard”. It is first drawn and then coloured with gouache. The outline is sharpened as much as possible in order to have a very precise cutting line.
The drawing is perforated on the wood veneer. Each marked part is marked on the corresponding veneer and assigned a part number, taking into account the direction of the wood grain and the outline of the shadows.
4. Choosing and cutting the veneer
The choice of different woods is essential, as the quality of the marquetry depends on the correct use of the different species. Each veneer should be cut according to the outer outline of the pattern. Each cut piece, following the outline of the shadows, will be shaded almost immediately. For this purpose, it is advisable to soak the veneer in a pan of sand heated to about 300ºC. The thickness of the sheets is around 1mm, although we work with sheets of up to 0.5mm or 0.2mm depending on the final application. Eurogroup Belcaire can provide you with the sheets you need for your project. For cutting we use manual, electric or laser saws. In some cases a cutter is sufficient.
5. Preparing a tensioned background
On a 15mm plywood board, a piece of paper is placed with gummed paper. When it gets a little wet, it will be stretched with the skin of a drum. Put some glue on it. Temporarily fix the sheet of plywood with adhesive tape (self-adhesive kraft paper soaked in water). Place the hot glue on the bottom, and apply the veneer starting from the bottom. Cut off the excess pieces with the help of a cutter.
6. Assembly and pressing
The pieces are assembled as if they were a puzzle. The pieces are not glued directly on the panel but on kraft paper. The whole assembly is then placed in the press for about twelve hours to allow the marquetry to stretch well. Any joints are filled with wood dust.
The aim is to glue this assembly onto another veneer or plywood board. The steps are as follows:
– glue is applied to the substrate
– the piece of marquetry is placed on top and a piece of newspaper, a piece of cardboard to compensate for the differences in thickness of the veneers and finally the thick plywood is superimposed on top of it.
– Finally, the whole assembly is pressed for about twelve hours.
First of all, the temporarily added kraft paper has to be removed with a hot damp sponge and a scraper. Once this task has been completed, it is polished or sanded smoothly by hand or machine.
9. Making the plywood
The support face shall be made of night wood (mahogany, walnut, etc.). The whole assembly is glued to it for another twelve hours.
10. Finishing and framing
It is usually finished with hard wax or shellac. The latter is the most classic finish. The most suitable frame for the subject is chosen in the same way as for a conventional canvas.