Reflecting Humor In Marquetry
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Wood Magazine

Reflecting Humor In Marquetry

Unsure of where he wanted his woodworking to go, Gregg Novosad created a sequence of projects that required an ever-increasing set of skills. The result: spectacular marquetry infused with wry humor.

Self-taught Woodworker

Self-taught Woodworker

I have been around woodworking since I was a child, watching my dad build cabinets in our garage with the simplest of tools. From that humble beginning, I went on a life-long journey evolving my skills as a self-taught woodworker--from building bars and stereo cabinets in college to ultimately running a woodworking company. After college I started a technology-consulting firm, where I gained an appreciation for a structured approach that incorporates employee skills development. After 14 years, I sold the business and intensified my woodworking journey.


Rather than just building projects that popped into my head, I created a personal skills development plan-a sequence of projects to build that required an increasingly difficult set of skills. The plan had a series of development steps requiring core knowledge of a technique and a project to demonstrate that skill. I went from joinery, to turning, to wood bending, to shaping, finally to veneering. After building my first marquetry piece in 2005, I had my "aha!" moment and focused my attention on decorative veneering. Marquetry gave me the perfect mix of creativity along with hands-on satisfaction of woodworking.


Reading Pierre Ramond's Masterpieces of Marquetry gave me a clear vision for my next leg of my woodworking journey. While others find inspiration from Krenov and Maloof, for me the gold standard was works from European master ebonists like Oben, Roentgen, and Linke. I reworked my skills-development plan to build pieces from all the furniture styles from 1650 to 1900.


 

The basics of a good story

The basics of a good story

One night while watching Robert Redford describe the basics of a good story on the Sundance channel, I thought about how that could be applied to decorative veneering. It is one thing to have a nice marquetry flower motif, but to tell a story with veneer as my palette? Then the light in my brain went on. I created a concept called "storylining" that uses basic storytelling techniques of character, conflict, and resolution in my marquetry designs. Now I could create functional art and, perhaps, put a smile on people's faces.


Every day my woodworking journey leads to new paths. I have brought together my experience in technology, design, and woodworking to create "Divine Design," where customers can compose their own storylines over the web using customizable design components to create tables, countertops and doors panels. I also have "Studio Divine," where I create one-of-a-kind artistic furniture or completely custom designs that the "Divine Design" Web site cannot accommodate.

As in many things in life, woodworking is a journey. Get a clear vision of what you want to do and put together a skills-development plan to get there. As the old saying goes, if you don't know where you want to go, you surely won't get there. I tell my students "If you can't visualize your next three projects, you are locked up in woodworking death row. Guess what your next project is? Your skills-development plan".

-- Gregg Novosad

See Gregg's Web site, then try your hand at simple marquetry with this article from WOOD magazine. For more information and plans for marquetry, check out these downloadable videos.


 

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Wood Magazine