When Tommy takes on a frame and panel bookstand project in Rough Cut Episode 7, his plan involves adding some intricate marquetry details to the piece. In keeping with his “learn from the best” practice/policy, he road trips it across the state to visit Silas Kopf, a legendary woodworker who applies some of the best marquetry detail to be found. Period.
Simply put, marquetry is the process of applying veneer to a structure or surface to form designs and patterns. Wood is the common veneer used, but bone, ivory, and metals like brass can also be used.
Although sometimes credited to Florentine artists of the 16th century, marquetry’s origins are thought to stretch back to ancient Egypt and 365 BC, where inlays were used in the palace of King Mausolus. Early hieroglyphs suggest that veneers were cut with bronze adzes and applied to caskets.
The Florentine marquetry was used as a decorative feature in cathedrals. It was a popular enough technique that specialty schools popped up in France, Holland and Germany.
For any woodworker looking to expand into marquetry, the American Marquetry Society offers a range of text-based guides and introductions to marquetry.
As far as Silas Kopf is concerned, words fail to do any justice to the beauty found in this marquetarian’s work, so instead we’ll leave you with these. More can be found on his website, here.