David Marks School- a four day class in marquetry

This 2015 marquetry class held in Santa Rosa CA was the third time I have given a seminar at Davids shop in this lovely northern CA town.  It was a full class of 10 students, and the range of work was impressive, as I have come to expect from the students that come to his school. This four-day class is a condensed version of the 5 and 6-day class, so the heat is usually on pretty high, to get all projects designed, cut, sand shaded, assembled and finished. Most students made two panels, and my favorite was the abstract cow, and the three wine barrels with the brass  faucets with what appeared to be a gazillion parts, which actually got finished by the fourth day!  We also got to experiment a bit with pushing veneer to its limit, yet again. DJMarks class 2015.jpg

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Stone Marquetry at MASW


This stone inlay class was held at the Marc Adams School of Woodwork, where I have been teaching once or sometimes even twice a year, for the last 17 years. This school is well organized and well equipped to handle a variety of programs, where I have seen strong interest in students learning the skills I have been practicing since my various European apprenticeships, almost 40 years ago (yikes !)

There are always new things to learn from such classes, for students and teachers alike.  Some of the challenges that emerged from these classes usually give many opportunities to solve new types of problems associated with this tedious and finicky work. One can push wood around a lot, where stone you cannot. We used marble tiles, stones found in the yard, and semi-precious stones that some people brought to class, to make pictures of stone, with a technique called ‘Pietra Dure’. This trade originated in Italy, where I studied wood and stone marquetry and inlay.
I am constantly amazed at peoples creativity, and am happy to give the advise and guidance needed to make long lasting works of art, sometimes rivaling work found in many galleries and museums today. Working with stone has a particular allure and fascination within the world of hand-trades. The colors do not fade with time, takes time and skill to master, but with the use of some modern cutting techniques that I developed over the years, allows one to create several pieces of work that can be inserted into furniture projects or left as stand-alone art pieces, during this five day class. These are some pics of the projects that were done during this week, over the fall of 2015.

Marquetry Class at the Peachtree in Georgia 2015

This marquetry class in Georgia was held at a rather unique woodworking store, called Peachtree Woodworking Supply Inc. It has an online presence, an outlet for selling quality tools and supplies for the novice to experienced woodworker. A roomy and well laid out classroom, with a media center that worked very well. The owners support the local club and promote the use of the classroom for demonstations and seminars, much like the one I conducted. The astonishing thing I have noticed over the years that the students seem to progress faster, creating better designs and doing more complex and projects that you will see in the following pics. I do not think it is because I am doing anything really different, other than distilling the technique down, focusing on the people that need the most guidence, but everybody seems to get it, and it shows. The expectations are higher the more I teach, both from student in regards to the teacher, as well as from teacher to student. The rough belt sanding of the finished veneer is quite fun, sort of like carving with dynamite. It goes quickly, and we only suffered one burn-through, that we were able to fix. All in all, it went well, and I have yet again made more competition for myself, a seemingly a favorite pastime of mine.

Here is a nice note from a student that said it all form his perspective…

Hello Paul,

Thank you very much for all your efforts (both in preparation and from 8-5 each day!) in putting together a wonderful learning experience for us at the GWA Marquetry class in Atlanta.  I feel as though I’ve passed through a portal into a new world.  All the promise I hoped for leading up to the class was realized by the end of the week.  Going forward, I feel very confident I will truly elevate my work to the level I dream it can be.

My biggest impression from the class was the space to complete two panels.  The first panel – one to break the ice and just get going – was incredibly liberating for me.  It’s informing to sit and watch DVDs, but pushed to use that knowledge in class was the kick in the pants I needed.  My second attempt of the portrait of my great-grandfather turned into a design exercise which has prompted lots of contemplation.  I think about the complexity of Silas’ faces (which my second panel failed to emulate) and contrast that complexity with a vision of simplicity and efficiency I strive for in my work.  I see the distance I have yet to travel, but I’m excited to head there by learning how to render a portrait with an elegance of my own.  Stay tuned for updates.

Again- thanks much for a great week, for “filling the gaps” of questions prompted by the DVDs, and for demonstrably caring about your students’ progress.



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Marc Adams School in Indiana

MASW 2014   I returned to this well known woodworking school in the heart of Indiana, after taking a sabbatical from teaching in 2013. I have been doing 1, 2 and 5-day classes there for about 16 years, (sometimes twice a year.) The school has grown considerably since I started, and Marc continues to add more buildings for classes, finding new instructors, upgrading equipment and improving the facility to become the first class school that it is today. He brings in national and international instructors that are experts in their fields, and schedules between 140 to 160 classes per year. It is a well-oiled and maintained machine. I enjoy the ‘Picture and Pizza’ night, where I get to see examples from other instructors and see what other skills are being taught, and the opportunity to see other instructors teaching style.

This veneering class had 15 students and we had the class split into three loosely formed groups. Decorative veneering, Marquetry and Veneering furniture components. The challenge for this class was learning how to repair veneer that had de-laminations bubbles on almost everybodies first project, due an unusual bleached and dyed elm veneer that we used. One student that had taken my class before finished several projects of advanced work, and we used Gorilla glue for laminating much of the veneer work to the cores. All of the students got to see most facets of veneering skills, production work, designing marquetry patterns, chessboards, parquetry, and using veneer in furniture.

Arizona Marquetry Class April 23-29, 2014

IMG_1583This school is called the South West Center for Craftsmanship, (swcfc.org)  is relatively new, and is based in Phoenix AZ, at a Luthiers workshop. The director is Raul Ramirez, a master craftsman dedicated to passing on knowledge and skills. There have already been several nationally known teachers (such as Michael Fortune, Frank Klaus, Doug and Rhonda Forsha, who are well known for the quality instruction they teach. I expect this school will continue to grow and flourish ! The marquetry class was attended by 8 people; one was a past student of mine, another arriving from the east coast. And all went smoothly. Everyone creating two or more projects over the five days, most original designs, as you can see in the following pics. The challenges we had were taming the dry and cracking veneer to work for us with this southwest environment. This hands-on class was followed by a two-day design class, where everyone got to develop one of their furniture ideas into a working drawing. All went well, and I will be returning in October to do a class on making a veneered wall cabinet! ImageIMG_1590IMG_1591IMG_1588IMG_1587IMG_1586

belt sanding with 80 G !!

belt sanding with 80 G !!


David Marks School, Santa Rosa, CA in March 2014.

This marquetry class at David Marks school was in the planning for more than a year, and was a great success. His shop is located in Santa Rosa, CA, and features classes with David as well as other instructors. There are several marquetry and inlay artists that have taught there, and David teaches furniture building, joinery, turning, metal patination, gilding, as well as his double bevel technique of marquetry. The marquetry class had a few people from out of state, but mostly local woodworkers. As you can see from the pics, there were several projects that were very different in nature, generated from concepts that students brought to the class. One of the projects was marquetry with turned wooden vessels. Here was one that had a strand of flowers laminated onto the conical surface of a turned bowl. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate a ‘free bagging’ technique, where one can make a vacuum bag with clear 6-mill poly plastic and plumbers’ putty, in order to apply clamping pressure onto a compound surface, which would otherwise be next to impossible.

Hawaii marquetry class

The two, 2-day Hawaiian Marquetry Classes in Oahu and on the Big Island had an interesting blend of traditional and contemporary woodworkers, ukulele makers, with a few attending from different countries.  All are in love with Hawai’i, and cherish using the beautiful indigenous woods that grow on the islands. It is an expensive place to live, and most items that we mainlanders find easily and take for granted, are hard to obtain, or cost a fortune to ship. (even veneer!!)

The objective of this 2-day class was to cut local wood into shop-sawn veneer, and create marquetry using the packet cutting technique normally reserved for thinner 1/42” veneer. This together with other tools and supplies found at local hardware stores, marquetry was made, and quite nicely I might add !

I am certain we shall see some great marquetry at the annual Hawaii Woodshow 2014 !