|English Jeux de Fond Coffer|
"C'est du placage, pas du parquet. Nous ne sommes pas menuisiers, nous sommes ébénistes."
(Translation: "That's veneer, not flooring. We are not 'menuisiers', we are 'ebenistes'." In point of fact the former works in solid wood, and the latter uses veneer.) It turns out that it is common for English speaking woodworkers to confuse the term for geometric marquetry with the profession of laying solid wood flooring.
They were helping me to understand that using the English/British term "parquetry" is not correct when discussing a form of marquetry generally known as "frisage" and in particular "tarsia geometrica." Another term for a version of this type of decoration is "jeux de fond." Pierre Ramond's book discusses these terms in great detail, but there is general confusion about what they mean exactly.
Simply put, the overall term for the process of making this work is "tarsia geometrica." This term includes other specific terms for different patterns which all use repetitive patterns in wood to achieve a decorative surface.
"Frisage" is used to describe simple book matching of slip matching of larger veneer surfaces, usually to create a background. Normally, frisage work involves using the same species of wood in a way that creates a pattern.
"Jeux de fond" is also referred to historically as mosaic work, as it involves much more complicated patterns of shaped elements, usually with different species of woods. In many cases it creates a 3-D effect. The most well known pattern is the cube, made up of three different pieces, each a different color density. This pattern is also found in quilting and tile work.
Recently, I had the opportunity to restore several excellent examples of tarsia geometrica. One was an Italian commode, made late in the 18th century. The other was an English coffer, made early in the 19th century. Each one needed extensive work in re gluing the marquetry and re polishing but in the end they looked magnificent.
I will discuss the commode in the next post, as it included a technique known as "tarsia a toppo" and I want to clarify why that is different, even though the final results are similar.
I want to start with the simple cube design:
|Cube Design on Assembly Board|
|Large Cubes with Small Cube|
|Large Cubes with missing Small Cube|
|Compare Left side and Right side|
Another experiment I tried was to make a three dimensional grid:
|Experimental Grid design on Assembly board|
|Tracing with Wood Species and Grain Direction|
|Roubo Volume IV|
|English Coffer derived directly from Roubl|
Here is the top of the coffer with the nautical compass in the center:
|Coopered oak top with jeux de fond marquetry|
Next post will continue this analysis and compare with similar marquetry decoration.