Marquetry: 'a meticulous art-form involving inlaying pieces of wood veneer, (very thin pieces of wood) to create pictures or patterns - the closest thing to actually painting with wood'.
What do house tunes and pop furniture have in common? Emma Wood @woodpopstrel, whose trajectory took her from music production to #marquetry. When a #coldwatersurf session in Ireland made her come across a wooden #surfboard, Emma took the giant leap to marry her passions. With the help of cabinet maker and keen #surfer Jonathan (@bark.furniture) and board #shaper Paul from @arbosurfboards, Emma started her own fine #woodwork on these handcrafted #surfboards.
After 18 months of trial and error, #surfboard marquetry was born: 'there are a lot of issues involved with working over a surface that is both convex and concave and the fact that all the different species of wood used in the marquetry react differently to changes in temperature/moisture. Inlaying metal was another challenge in itself!'
All boards are now certified #ecoboards by @sustainsurf, using #sustainable timber, #bioresins and glassed in-fins (no plastic fitting). Emma is now working on a board for actress & occasional #surfergirl @katebosworth, inspired by legendary shaper @dick_brewer. Watch this space! ✒: @_laurence_b 📷: @woodpopstrel #swellbound
See Emma's boards and marquetry work at Woodpop!
Read the full interview!
LB: You used to work as A&R in the music industry. What are the commonalities between that job and your passion in marquetry?
EW: er . . . none at all. I was forced to give up art at school as I was obliged to take music as I played the piano and you were not allowed to take 2 "dossers” subjects!?!?!? So I had to fulfil my artistic side outside of school and in my own time. If there’s any commonality between A&R and marquetry it would the pernickety engineering/mathematical side of it. I’ve always been a secret maths nerd and you have to be meticulous and fairly ‘mathematical’ to do marquetry - there is an ‘engineering’ aspect to it, in terms of dealing with all the different processes and how the different materials react to different things etc etc and my role at EMI was studio-based so I looked after everything when the bands were in the studio so dealt with all producers, sound engineers etc and I did an audio engineering course on the side to enable me to make some preposterously bad house tunes.
LB: How did the idea of surfboard marquetry come about?
EW: The idea of putting marquetry on a surfboard came about 2 years ago in Ballinskelligs in Ireland where I have a caravan and where I go to surf the icy waves (badly but enthusiastically). I saw a wooden surfboard with a laminated design on it and my mind just started running wild . . . . It then took a year of research regarding the process of how to marry the two different disciplines of marquetry and surfboard making - and then I had to find the right people who were excited by the idea and fancied the challenge. Then thru the wonders of Facebook and an old friend of mind, thru various introductions I found the wondrous Jonathan Walter at Bark Furniture (@bark.furniture) - an extremely accomplished cabinet-maker / fine-furniture maker and a surfer !! He then enlisted the help of Paul from Arbo Surfboards (@arbosurfboards) who with German precision engineering (there it is again) is a boat builder and wooden surfboard maker/shaper par excellence. And THUS - my dream-team was assembled !! The three different artistic disciplines of boat-building, fine-furniture making and marquetry would be fused together in some MEGATRON MARQUETRY MAGIC.
LB: What is your main influence in style? Is the deco complete custom, a conversation with the client?
EW: In a nutshell - my influences are Pop Art, geometry, music and all things Mexico. I do also work to design briefs as long as it retains some “woodpopishness”. The Art Deco type board featured on my Instagram has been commissioned by Linley for their shop in London and the 10’9” gun is a bespoke board being developed with and for silver screen goddess and surf siren Kate Bosworth (@katebosworth). It features inlaid copper and was based on a classic Dick Brewer design from the 60s. It will be finished in the next 6 weeks. . . . watch this space!
LB: What are the challenges to make such a board functional?
EW: Marquetry is a meticulous art-form involving inlaying pieces of wood veneer, (very thin pieces of wood) to create pictures or patterns - the closest thing to actually painting with wood. It is usually applied to high-end furniture and art-works - but we have developed a process which allows us to use a wooden surfboard as the canvas. It took about 18 months of testing different ways and processes as there are a lot of issues involved with working over a surface that is both convex and concave and the fact that all the different species of wood used in the marquetry react differently to changes in temperature/moisture which you have to make allowances for. Inlaying metal was another challenge in itself as working with an entirely different material throws up all sorts of complications with regard to sanding the marquetry after the glue-up to ensure the metal particles don’t bleed into the grain of the veneer.
In terms of functionality, they are finished with fibre-glass and resin the same as any other surfboard so it behaves exactly the same as any other wooden surfboard. Each board is unique and they are completely handcrafted using traditional techniques combining the three different artistic disciplines of marquetry, fine furniture making and boat building and each board is absolutely unique.
LB: Why did you decide to go 'eco'?
EW: Our boards are hollow, wooden boards using timber sourced from sustainably managed forests with glassed in-fins (no plastic fitting) and we have used bio resins instead of harmful epoxy resins thereby qualifying to be numbered and registered ecoboards.
I wanted to make an ecoboard because I feel passionately about our planet and our oceans in particular and using plastics and petrochemicals was not an option for me. Building wooden boards feels truer to the original Hawaiian spirit and I think the Duke would approve!
Chief Storyteller at Swellbound