|Veneers, their descriptions and uses in marquetry by Roy Murton|
Burrs are a particular favourite of the marquetarian due to their unique figuring patterns. Some of the burrs are a little tricky to work with due to their "crumbly" nature, these veneers need to be papered prior to use.
What I mean by papered is the use of veneer tape to more or less "wallpaper" one side of the veneer so that when you cut it the tape will hold the fragments together whilst you work with your veneer. The tape which will be on the front or working side of the veneer will be removed after the burr veneer had been glued in to place.
So let us now take a look at twelve burr veneers. We will start with number 193 Madrona Burr:
193/. MADRONA BURR: Arbutus Menziesii. USA. This burr comes from the "Strawberry Tree". It is light to medium red in colouring with an irregular grain patterning. This veneer has a fine texture and is soft and easy to cut. There is no need to paper this veneer. It can be a little scarce and therefore costly. Very useful for foliage, bushes, floral subjects, mountains and rocks and roofing subjects.
194/. MAIDU BURR: Pterocarpus Pedatus. Indo China. Vietnam. Another light to medium red coloured veneer. This veneer has a coarse texture and can be very hard to work with. This veneer is one of those veneers that will need to be papered prior to being worked due to its brittle and crumbly nature. Rather rare and expensive. Could be used for portraiture, animal subjects, mountains and rocks, foliage, bushes and floral subjects.
195/. IMBUYA BURR: Phoebe Porosa. Brazil. This can also be found with the spelling of IMBOIA BURR. It has an olive brown colouring and a wild figuring. A very useful marquetry veneer for many applications.
196/. OAK BURR: Quercus Robur & Petraea. Europe. Biscuit to light tan in colouring. This is quite a hard veneer to cut and will require papering to prevent it splitting and crumbling. Can be used for depicting snow scenes, mountains and rocks, roads and pathways, stonework, foliage and bushes. Can be quite costly to purchase.
197/. MAPLE BURR: Acer Saccharum. Canada. This is a soft and easy to cut burr veneer, often with patches of in-growing bark, which usually need to be cut around. It is a joy to work with. It is useful for portraying foliage. It is attractive for spring blossoms and also for autumn tints in conjunction with Amboyna, Thuya and Green Cypress burrs.
198/. MYRTLE BURR: Umbellularia Californica. USA. Can also be found as Acacia Burl, Pepperwood and Spice Tree. It has a greenish brown colouring and is rather crumbly, so therefore it will require papering prior to being worked. Another scarce and expensive burr veneer. Useful for green coloured foliage, bushes, water effects, floral subjects, costume and drapery.
199/. PLANETREE BURR: Platanus Acerifolium. Europe. Also known as Lacewood, in the U.S.A. it is known as sycamore. It is biscuit to pink in colour. This interesting veneer of medium texture and average hardness cuts easily and its strong medullary figure makes this ideal for stonework, roads and pathways, mountains and rocks, foregrounds, sandy beaches, walls, etc. For reference, the fine figured veneer is known as plane tree and the more pronounced figure veneer is known as lace wood. In fact they are both from the familiar London Plane tree.
200/. POPLAR BURR: Populus Spp. Europe & USA. It is also known as magnolia, American whitewood, Tulip tree. It is greenish brown. It is a smooth textured soft and easy veneer to cut, is very scarce and when available comes in widths of over 12 inches (30cms) wide and is quite costly. This is one of the only natural green veneers in the marquetarians palette and is therefore an indispensable veneer for floral subjects, foliage, foregrounds, bushes, trees, in fact wherever a natural green veneer is required. It is a must for everyone’s veneer collection.
201/. SYCAMORE BURR: Acer Pseudoplatanus. Europe. A creamy whitish burr veneer with easy cutting characteristics. Works well for light coloured burr effects.
202/. THUYA BURR: Tetraclinis Articulata. North Africa. Morocco. Gold to light brown in colouring. Another of those brittle and crumbly burrs that will need papering before use. Once again it is fairly scarce and consequently expensive. Very adaptable for foliage, bushes, portraiture, costume and drapery, animal subjects, mountains and rocks..
203/. VAVONA BURR: Sequoia Gigantea. USA. Red to dark red colouring. Coarse textured although fairly soft. It easily crumbles so will need to be papered before you use it otherwise it will disintegrate in to small fragments. Fairly scarce and expensive but depicts foliage, bushes, costume and drapery and floral subjects very well.
204/. WALNUT AMERICAN BURR: Juglans Nigra. USA. This is the most sought after burr veneer for foliage. It is so dark and rich in chocolate brown markings, that a piece of this burr finds its way into practically every picture depicting silhouetted trees. Fir trees in an Alpine scene for instance. The plainer parts of the veneer leaf are all most useful as this is the darkest walnut that is commercially available, easily as dark as Charbonnier walnut – a freak rarely found in Persian walnut. Plain American walnut burry veneer, by which is meant those parts of the leaf without burr, are perfect for shadows, and wherever you feel you want to use ebony but find it too hard to cut or not black enough. Get yourself stocked up on this burr figure it is all useful and usable.
There you have a full page of those
wonderful burr veneers.
Burrs seem to be everyone's favourites - and rightly so. These veneers are the end grain, wart-like growths which occur on some trees; they generally look like tightly clustered knot formations, and of course, are the most highly prized of all veneers.
I have a few more to bring you with the next update to these veneers descriptions pages. The next "bunch" will begin with veneer number 205 which will be Walnut Circassian Burr.
So as always, until our next set of veneer descriptions, please enjoy your marquetry.
Best Wishes, Roy.