Alexandra Llewellyn Marquetry Backgammon Boards Hero

Marquetry TECHNIQUE

An ancient art, unprecedented luxury

An ancient art form dating back to the 16th century, every Alexandra Llewellyn marquetry creation reflects hundreds of hours of design, passion and craft, informed by thousands of years of heritage and artisanship. Interpreting Alexandra’s designs in wood involves many different stages of craftsmanship, which you can discover below.

STEP 1

THE BRIEFING

Once a digital design render has been signed off by a client, Alexandra briefs her marquetry artist Joe Geoghegan, who is responsible for translating her artworks in wood inlay. Their close, collaborative relationship enables Alexandra to design without constraints. Each new brief comes with its own unique challenges and Joe is tasked with finding the solutions, enabling the realisation of highly complex designs never before seen in marquetry.

STEP 2

CHOOSING THE WOODS

Both Alexandra and Joe have incredible archives of veneers to choose from. Selecting which will appear in a design is very much like painting with wood and involves looking for the varieties in colour, texture, tone and grain that will best capture the intricacies of Alexandra’s design. Alongside natural woods, pressure-dyed veneers in vibrant hues are also used, bringing a distinctly contemporary touch to this classical craft.

STEP 3

CUTTING THE WOOD

It takes many years of training to master the art of laser-cutting woods to the standard required to create Alexandra’s challenging, highly complex designs. Often, Alexandra and Joe will experiment with many different kinds of wood before finding the one that perfectly describes a particular element of a design. For organic shapes, pieces are often cut by hand to achieve a softer silhouette.

STEP 4

HOT SAND SHADING

Joe dips the individual pieces of wood into scorching hot sand, which burns it and creates a beautiful sense of three-dimensionality in the marquetry. Alexandra often employs “trompe l’oeil” effects in her designs, and hot sand shading enables Joe to translate these “tricks of the eye” into the wood.

STEP 5

ASSEMBLING THE DESIGN

Next, Joe fits the individual pieces together. Like a very intricate jigsaw puzzle, each piece of wood veneer has been cut for a specific space. This is the exciting moment when, inch by inch, a design begins to come to life in wood. Upon completion, Alexandra and the artist consider the balance of the design in its entirety. When they are completely happy, the marquetry sheet is fastened to a hardwood board and pressed under extreme weight and heat.

step 6

CRAFTing the box

With more than 40 years’ experience, master cabinet maker Phil Rose applies his knowledge of traditional furniture craftsmanship to create the wood boxes that house Alexandra’s marquetry designs. Incorporating signature details, such as dovetail joints, once the box has been made, the marquetry boards can be seamlessly incorporated into the interior and, sometimes, the exterior of the box.

STEP 7

THE finishing touches

The marquetry creation then continues its journey to other craft workshops, including a leather artist and specialist polisher, who seals the inlay work with lacquer, which accentuates the colours of the woods. The completed design is then sent to Alexandra’s London studio, where it is inspected for a final time before being dispatched to its new owner.

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