Toscana, A hand dyed marquetry study

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Project by shipwright posted 08-29-2013 05:18 PM 2389 views 2 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

”Toscana” is a hand dyed marquetry plaque mounted on 3/8” MDF. I made it at the request of my good’ wife for a decorative accent to go on our new granite / tile cabinet upgrade. The substrate is cut precisely to the outline of the picture and dyed black on the edge.

The marquetry is all cut from a single layer of plain maple and all the pieces are hand dyed in the watercolor dye technique after cutting and before assembly. This method allows lots of artistic leeway in shading and colors but is very fragile in that the dyes do not penetrate deeply at all and must be protected from all moisture and abrasion. That is the hardest part of the whole process.

The photos show the original photo I used, the sketch I made from it, the mess I made dyeing and the final in situ appearance. The finish, although semi gloss is very difficult to photograph.

As a learning experience it was great, as marquetry I’m not so sure. I can’t really compare it to real marquetry because in my mind it just isn’t. I think it has to be looked at as a separate entity and in that light time will tell whether I (we) really like it or really don’t. I can never tell how I feel about a different piece like this until at least a few months have passed. For now we are both happy enough with it to keep it in its new home on the backsplash but I’m still considering re-creating it in “real” marquetry.

The project is written up in segments four to seven of the watercolor dye blog in the link above.

Thanks for looking.

Comments, critiques and questions are always welcome.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

30 comments so far

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 2791 days

#1 posted 08-29-2013 05:23 PM

Nice work. Really nice work. Always look forward to your posts.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Phil277's profile


174 posts in 2161 days

#2 posted 08-29-2013 05:25 PM

Beautiful work, I’m sure your wife loves it.


-- The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. From a sign on a surfer bar in So. Calif.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3141 days

#3 posted 08-29-2013 05:30 PM

beautiful work, and i have always l;oved seeing tuscan scenes, i know you have been there, and having it really at recall memory wise is a wonderful gift from god,

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View a1Jim's profile


116578 posts in 3415 days

#4 posted 08-29-2013 05:46 PM

Great Job Paul even your experiments turn out fantastic.

-- Custom furniture

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 3172 days

#5 posted 08-29-2013 06:19 PM

A wonderful result Paul and I’m sure a fond reminder of happy times spent in Italy. I love Italian food and I can’t think of a better place for this marquetry than the kitchen, especially your very nice kitchen.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

19794 posts in 2943 days

#6 posted 08-29-2013 06:33 PM

Paul, that is just a beautiful detailed piece. And a very nice setting for displaying it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View gbear's profile


507 posts in 3937 days

#7 posted 08-29-2013 08:20 PM

Paul, your talents always amaze me but I have to say this turned out much nicer than I expected. What a wonder addition to your kitchen. Truly an artistic beauty.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

9979 posts in 3890 days

#8 posted 08-29-2013 08:33 PM

Super COOL…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2702 posts in 3430 days

#9 posted 08-29-2013 09:30 PM

Hi Paul,

Beautiful marquetry, Very interesting way to color the veneer, it almost looks like a painting. It looks great in your kitchen, my vote is to keep it in that spot, it blends great with the cabinets!

-- Dennis Zongker

View mauibob's profile


229 posts in 2905 days

#10 posted 08-29-2013 09:55 PM

Beautiful job, Paul. Almost can’t tell it apart from an imported Italian tile mural.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View kiefer's profile


5580 posts in 2505 days

#11 posted 08-29-2013 10:38 PM

Very ,Very Nice.
You should be pleased with the result ,I sure like it .
Go for a sail and enjoy your work with a bottle of wine .

-- Kiefer

View Hawaiilad's profile


3103 posts in 2859 days

#12 posted 08-29-2013 11:37 PM

Oh that is really beautiful

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View SPalm's profile


5305 posts in 3720 days

#13 posted 08-30-2013 12:50 AM

Very nice Paul.
My my, you have more talent in your little finger than I have in my entire body. I am really impressed.

It looks great in the kitchen.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 3668 days

#14 posted 08-30-2013 01:02 AM

Great job with this Paul, it’s like looking through a portal and actually being there! I’m sure that this piece has found its permanent spot right there where its at. Bravo!

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

View cathyb's profile


768 posts in 3082 days

#15 posted 08-30-2013 04:09 AM

The quality of this work is really outstanding. It is definitely not just a wood project, even though wood is the medium. The year that I put my painted horse (my mailbox on my project list) in the Woodshow, it created a stir and a bit of outrage in some of the other woodworkers. Give me a break, I’d like to seem them carve a fairly realistic horse that was larger than a carousel horse out of solid Cuban mahogany. It weighed well over 150 pounds and was amazing. Such a gasp, it was painted!!!
So to this piece in your marquetry adventures, I say BRAVO!!! Why not stretch yourself and claim that victory.
Great job Paul!
Cheers :)

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

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