Or read this in Russian
That awkward moment when you think you almost everything about marquetry and here it is! Something new! Several months ago I was re-watching Cartier collection videos on Youtube with marquetry process and mosaics and somehow I came across another collection – with straw marquetry. I heard only about Chinese tradition of straw pictures before, but this time it was miniature version! And I really wanted to try it.
Usually I go through English-speaking sites for information, it’s almost always impossible to find something in Russian, this time it was almost the opposite situation. The only thing that I had to buy the materials and a book online in USA. But if you need to know about the techniques of dyeing and cutting – Russian sites are perfect sources of information. Our techniques are a bit different from let’s say English, but that’s what made it really interesting!
Well, I had to get the material – I didn’t have time for preparing the straw myself, so everything was bought online. I got colored straw and ordinary one.
About a week of work (actually it was just a few hours, because actually I had about several minutes a day), and here’s the result, still need to work on it though:
It’s not a classical pattern of parquetry for the straw, but I took this one for the first try. And here are my thoughts and impression about it. It’s very unusual medium for me. On one hand, you can easily cut it, try different impressive parquetry patterns – and you’ll get stunning result because of straw’s sleek and shiny surface. It’s cheap! And if you don’t dye it – it’s even cheaper. You can cut it with scissors or knife.
On the other hand – you jave to be very careful choosing the straw, it needs to be smooth and shiny. Then dyeing it – it’s another story and a very long one. Just soaking it in some sort of ink or I don’t know where else won’t help, you need to boil it and iron it. There’s a lot of information about this process so I won’t go into details. But all these details, this “lots of steps” thing is bothering me a bit. I guess its worth the effort if you’re really into it but if you want just to try it…I’d buy ready made straw as I did. But from the first sight, working with veneer seems easier – you can sand it, even if it’s uneven and removing the glue is easy.
Well, all these experiments with straw led me to a question why this type of art is not very popular and considered more like a folk art. My guess is that straw is very cheap medium, it’s not that glamorous as wood veneer, especially when we talk about exotic wood. But that’s not the point – technically, wood is easier to work with, it’s not shiny but you can make it that way, it’s easier to dye and it works with other mediums like ivory and brass and works perfectly! I’m still figuring out the finishing of the straw marquetry, I read that shellac would work just fine, but I ‘ll have to try and see.
Straw is perfect for contemporary design ( though art deco is just as perfect for it), couple of photos below show it. But you have to choose just the right piece of furniture, right color and pattern. I hope to try a life scale piece, but this time it will be only miniature.