“Improving” the decoration of furniture: imitation and mechanization in the marquetry process in Britain and America, 1850–1900
journal contributionposted on 18.06.2014, 13:17 by Clive Edwards
In the 1980s, the application of the laser to cut veneers for marquetry was arguably the first major successful development for improving the process since the nineteenth century. Despite attempts to advance what had been an essentially hand-crafted technique, successful economic applications remained elusive. This article analyzes attempts made since the mid nineteenth-century to apply technologies to “improve” the marquetry process in Britain and America. Inventors intended to increase opportunities for manufacturers to supply decorative furniture for a growing market. Speed of production and the possibility of supplying furniture with greater decoration reflected a desire to address both the economic and consumption agendas. I describe how inventors proposed attempts to mechanize or imitate marquetry often through patented processes, and then consider their success. I argue that applying technologies as knowledge, practice, and material resource to craft works raises a number of issues particularly when there is an element of “art” involved.
- The Arts, English and Drama