Furniture making at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century was taking huge steps forward in Britain. In part this was due to the cabinet makers’ skill in the use of veneering. Already lavish pieces of furniture were being created at the court of Louis XIV in France by craftsmen like André Charles Buhl who refined a technique where wooden surfaces were overlaid with veneers of tortoiseshell which were then dyed red and inlaid with intricate pieces of brass. This technique is now referred to as boullework.
French influences in fine wood veneering were also being introduced into Britain at this time. This process took thinly sliced pieces of wood which were then laid on either pine or oak carcasses to dress up pieces of furniture. More basic veneering techniques included taking larger pieces of cut veneer which were then quartered. The natural grain of the wood was then used to create the patterning as the whole was turned like a kaleidoscope to achieve the desired effect. It was then placed within a frame to help contain the veneer. Fine examples of burr walnut and later, flame mahogany veneering, have transformed pieces of furniture in this way.
Other sophisticated uses of veneering included marquetry and parquetry techniques to create pictorial designs on furniture. Marquetry tended to employ floral work where parquetry produced geometric designs. Also narrow strips of contrasting veneering called cross banding which ran the grain at right angles, and a very fine line of veneering called stringing were both employed to contain the overall designs.
Veneering has become an indispensable part of the cabinet makers’ art. When looking for period and revival pieces of antique marquetry furniture , Lancashire dealers will be able to advise on the styles and woods used in the veneering process.
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