Last weekend was the quarterly marquetry workshop and this month we’re building a box with parquetry on the top using the famous Louis cube design. The name comes from France and the reign of Louis XIV because the pattern was very popular during that time. The pattern is sometimes called, “tumbling cubes.” Most of us who try to make the pattern call it a pain in the rear as you need to be very precise or you’ll mess up the whole thing.
Technically the Louis cube pattern is parquetry and not marquetry, even though you use the same materials and tools. The difference is the kind of pattern. Parquetry uses geometric designs. Louis cubes, chess boards, herringbone, parquet, and other patterns based on geometric repetition are considered parquetry.
Marquetry is more free form and includes general artwork like still life, landscape, portraiture and even abstract designs. Think of marquetry as “painting with wood.” Marquetry is generally done with veneers while parquetry can sometimes be done with solid woods, often in flooring. Herringbone and other geometric patterns such as parquet flooring is considered a form of parquetry.
So, I won’t mind if you call my parquetry “marquetry,” but if you call my marquetry parquetry I’ll have very strong words for you and we’ll have to repeat this whole lecture again.
Louis cubes is also a popular quilting pattern. I’ve seen a number of well done quilts with this pattern. Done well, the effect is stunning. It’s also a great pattern to hone your precision cutting and sewing skills as all the little diamond shapes need to be exactly the same size. One very small mistake can throw the whole pattern off and ruin the effect.
Now for the pictures of the work in progress. The box is done except for some sanding and I am about halfway through doing the parquetry. I have all the little cubes cut and am now assembling them.
The little marks are chalk to tell me which is the right side up on the veneer. Yup, veneer has a right side and a wrong side, just like fabric (please note the not so subtle comparison between marquetry and quilting) . The knife is a surgical scalpel with a #11 blade.
The box is 10 inches long, 4 wide about and about 2 1/2 deep.
Well that’s it for this week. I hope to get some time over the weekend to finish this.
If you need me – I’ll be in the shop