One-Day Workshop: Western Traditional Marquetry Techniques

The Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts China Centre
10:30 - 16:00
Joachim Tantau

Marquetry techniques have been used for many centuries in Europe, India and the Middle East to decorate wooden items of different scales, from tables to musical instruments to small boxes.

In Europe, the art of marquetry flourished during the baroque era, with master craftsmen producing highly intricate floral motives and imagery through skillful arrangement of colours and textures. Many of these masterpieces still exist today and can be found in museums and private collections.

In the Middle East, marquetry techniques have been used in combination with inlay of other materials such as bone, mother of pearl and metal to create highly complex floral and geometric patterns, not only to embellish furniture but also larger surfaces like doors and window shutters.

Today, marquetry is still used by artists and craftsmen throughout the world to add rich and precious elements to beautifully designed contemporary objects. The technique itself is timeless in its beauty and can be adapted to many different design styles from traditional to contemporary. Learning and mastering this technique offers designers or craftsmen a whole world of possibilities for embellishing any project.

The technique is very similar throughout the history: a selection of natural wood veneers of different colours is composed to form colourful patterns and motifs. The variety of natural colours in the veneers is impressive and ranges from cream white to pitch black, from warm green to deep purple with all imaginable shades of browns, ochres and reds in between——an amazing fund for the craftsmen to choose from. The veneers are accurately cut to size using hand tools, then glued onto a carrier wood and then sanded and polished.

Workshop Outline

Expert tutor and carpenter, Joachim Tantau, will give a broad introduction about his work and traditional woodworking techniques, and how his work takes inspiration from nature and the principles of sacred geometry.  

There will be a practical demonstration and exercises on the craft of marquetry, including demonstration and information about tools and materials used. Attendees will have the opportunity to experience the technique and materials by working on a group marquetry piece with a geometric design.

The day will end with Joachim giving a demonstration of the polishing techniques used for marquetry, which can achieve stunning results.

*Q&A session will be held at the end of the day.




Tutor biography

Joachim Tantau

Joachim Tantau was born in 1988 in Hanover, Germany. In 2011 he received his undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning from the Leibniz University of Hanover, where he also attended lectures on architecture history and the art of the Renaissance. In his studies he focussed on garden history and the conservation of monastery gardens.
From 2011 to 2013 Joachim studied his Master’s degree at the Prince's School of Traditional Arts in London where he focussed on the history and design of fountain houses in different cultures.
Joachim has been a passionate woodworker since very young age. His has designed and executed various furniture projects as well as a number of ambitious architectural projects, such as half-timbered houses and decorative garden pavilions.
Since 2013 Joachim is running a studio in Hamburg, Germany where he designs and produces high-end bespoke furniture and architectural features like garden pavilions and interiors as well as fine jewellery boxes. He works for private and corporate clients from all over the world. Recent commissions include an altar and a plinth for a rare 15thcentury sculpture for  St.Mary’s in Abergavenny, a commission carried out under the direct patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales, and a Tabernacle for a convent in Riga, Latvia.
Joachim also works internationally as a tutor and regularly gives workshops in Geometry, Marquetry, and various subjects related to woodwork. Recent classes have taken place in Aserbaidschan, Egypt, the UK, Spain and Brazil.