OK, The French Veneer (at last) #1: A tribute to my mentors

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 09-30-2014 06:11 AM 3237 reads 3 times favorited 38 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of OK, The French Veneer (at last) series Part 2: Beginnings »

It seems like only yesterday that I built my first chevalet from a few photos on the internet and began to try to figure out how to use it. Well it wasn’t yesterday and it wasn’t last year either. It was almost four years ago and while I did learn on my own and produced some reasonably good pieces of work, things really started to ramp up for me when I attended The American School of French Marquetry in Feb of 2012 and 2013.

The skill training was invaluable but the inspiration far outweighed it in its effect on my work. I was suddenly able to understand what really good marquetry was and how long a road lay ahead of me. Patrick and Patrice are really amazing practitioners of this art and I feel very privileged to have met them and had occasion to learn from them.

One thing I remember that Patrick told me the first year, when I asked him what I should do to really improve, was “Go to France and buy as much sawn veneer as you can afford.” It sounded a little out of my reach at the time but it grew on me and last year I went to Paris and did buy a big pile of sawn veneer.

So …............ after almost a year of procrastination, I am finally beginning my first project with this precious material and I think it is only fitting that it be an homage to my mentors. The project is, on the surface, a jewellery box inspired by the wonderful reproduction piece that headlines Patrick's blog.

I am not about to copy his work and in fact my box will be quite different but Patrick’s box and the many fine pieces that he and Patrice have produced are all the inspiration behind it.

So what will mine look like? I don’t really know exactly because I’m not finished it yet but there are a few parts that are now decided and I’ve started working on both the box and the marquetry so it’s time to start a blog since it’s been a while.

This is about as complex as plans get on paper for me and even this was done really more to describe it to others. The real design is all in my head where I can change it at a whim without an eraser (or eraser tool).

The top, ends, and drawer fronts will all have marquetry and like Patrick’s, the background will all be ebony. There will be three pull out and six cantilevered drawers. The drawer fronts will be a series of modifications of this one from

I retraced it in Inkscape and added some variety in the flowers. There will be only three flowers but by using left and right mirror images and changing colors, they should all be different. Cutting for the drawers will be piece by piece as it lends itself to the repetition but the ends and top will likely be done in painting in wood.

Here is my drawer marquetry plan.

And just to get your attention, jumping way ahead, here’s a shot from today. The green Poplar pieces and the flowers are permanent. The rest are “practice pieces”. I’ll explain them next time.

Thanks for looking in.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

38 comments so far

View Sodabowski's profile


2375 posts in 2982 days

#1 posted 09-30-2014 06:45 AM

OMG Paul, this stuff is going to be the most spectacular you ever did. I see you already sand-shaded the pieces, right?

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View Druid's profile


1872 posts in 2944 days

#2 posted 09-30-2014 06:55 AM

Can’t wait to see this series. Don’t forget to keep lots of good photos and notes . . . you’ll need them for your book (the book that you will someday write on Marquetry).

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View stefang's profile


15952 posts in 3483 days

#3 posted 09-30-2014 07:18 AM

Look forward to watching this develop Paul, I know it will be a masterpiece. I don’t know where I will be with my marquetry in 4 years, but I’m certain it won’t be anywhere near the skill level you are at now. You have been inspired by Patrick and Patrice, but you have been my inspiration and I’m sure that this project will be no exception. The work shown above looks wonderful already.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Sodabowski's profile


2375 posts in 2982 days

#4 posted 09-30-2014 07:21 AM

I second John about the book idea!

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View jinkyjock's profile


488 posts in 1723 days

#5 posted 09-30-2014 09:11 AM

Look forward to your posts as this project developes.
You certainly don’t believe in the easy route.

View Schwieb's profile


1869 posts in 3610 days

#6 posted 09-30-2014 10:26 AM

Wow, Paul, what an undertaking. I agree with John and Thomas on the book deal. I want you to sign my book when I come take a course from you

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21321 posts in 3254 days

#7 posted 09-30-2014 11:34 AM

That is going to be one great looking piece, Paul!!!!!!

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

View sscartozzi's profile


64 posts in 1909 days

#8 posted 09-30-2014 11:56 AM

This looks like another one of your masterpieces. Paul I will be sure to tune in to watch a master at work.

-- Steve, Malvern, PA

View Woodbridge's profile


3574 posts in 2567 days

#9 posted 09-30-2014 12:55 PM

Paul, I’m looking forward to watching this masterpiece unfold.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View SPalm's profile


5322 posts in 4031 days

#10 posted 09-30-2014 01:13 PM

This is really neat. I love the way you think, and have the ability to change on the fly.

Thanks for taking us along on this project. It will be fun to watch.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3102 days

#11 posted 09-30-2014 01:19 PM

Spectacular Paul. Going to be a great one!

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

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10911 posts in 3577 days

#12 posted 09-30-2014 01:48 PM

WOW! You are amazing, Paul. P&P should be very proud. Of course, they had a very talented student to begin with.
Can’t wait for the next look at your WIP

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2763 days

#13 posted 09-30-2014 01:49 PM

going to be awesome ,

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3457 days

#14 posted 09-30-2014 02:25 PM

Absolutely an amazing undertaking…and a most interesting journey. Like the old saying goes “it is not the destination…but it is the journey” (not sure of the exact wording but you know what I mean)
However, to add to that saying I feel that each destination is great because it means the new journey is now beginning…and this new journey of yours will be exciting and fun.

View a1Jim's profile


117239 posts in 3726 days

#15 posted 09-30-2014 02:37 PM

It’s so great that your willing to share what you have learned over the last 3 years.Your work has always been amazing Paul . I look forward to the rest of your blog ,it has certainly started off with a bang.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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