Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jean-Francois Hache, Marquetry

Time for a little eye candy. After all my inane babbling in the last few posts I think it's time we heard from a Master, and Jean-Francois Hache was one of the greatest craftsmen who ever lived. These images are from a collection of small boxes that he created. I posted a more complete set here. Hache's work was highlighted in the three volume set by Pierre Ramond, Masters of Marquetry.

It's kind of crazy to think that this could ever be considered a 'craft' and not an 'art', but that's evidently the way they thought in those days. You followed in the footsteps of your father, and joined the trade like anyone else.

"The dynasty began with Noël Hache (1630-1675), the son of a master baker who chose not to enter the family business, but rather studied veneering in the workshop of a Calais master. Eventually, Noël set up his own workshop in Toulouse and, upon his death, it was taken over by his son Thomas. Thomas Hache then moved the atêlier to Grenoble. His only son, Pierre, worked with him as did his grandson, Jean-François.

Jean-François Hache (1730-1796) is probably the most famous of the Hache craftsmen. In 1756 he spent some time in Paris where he was very much influenced by the Louis XV style and particularly by the work of Jean-François Oeben. He gradually took the baton at the family workshop and around 1760 began to incorporate more simplified forms and intricate marquetry into his designs.

A strong keynote of Hache’s work is his use of bold and unusual geometric inlaid forms. The distinctive nature of these forms is accentuated by the fact that he placed them within late Louis XV rococo furniture prototypes. The interesting and highly successful tension this created makes Hache’s work unique."

I love the subtle tones, simple geometry & patina of this Hache floor
Our digital line drawing

Asked to produce a Parquet tile based upon one of Hache's designs, we re-drew the geometry (of the floor above) in the computer, then textured it using our collection of digital veneer files. Now it was ready for printing onto our custom 3/4" HDF floor tiles. Here's our rough file layed out like the Hache floor:

Here's a schematic of our 'work in progress' digital Hache floor, on modular 16" HDF tiles (needs aging)

Our (not quite finished) Hache central star quadrant, with digital 'aged patina' added for effect


  1. Your floor reconstruction is stunning, and I hope you're able to share the finished result. It must be very satisfying to accomplish this, and wouldn't it be interesting if Jean-Fraçois Hache could see the method for recunstructing his art.

    I just read a book on American furniture that describes how home inlay work was sand-burnt to give the various smaller elements subtle shading, and I notice that Hache used that method in his gorgeous designs.

  2. Mark,

    Thanks for your comments. It's an open question whether he'd approve of the new technology or be utterly horrified.

    There is a long history though, of craftspeople embracing (and even driving the development of) new technology to assist them and speed the process. Inlay artisans pushing the development of stronger and finer blades to do their work

    For me, the hot sand has been replaced by the Burn tool in Photoshop.

  3. I love the history behind this project. You are doing what any artist would do....reinterpreting an existing idea into a more modern technique. I think it is brilliant!

  4. Thank you for sharing Jean-Francois Hache's work, it's stunning and humbling.

    As for the floor; I endorse all of the comments above. And I think it's brave. Don't fear the new... Know where we've come from, know the history and old techniques but If we want to grow and learn we gotta embrace and study new technology too. In the end it will be your craftsmanship and artistic talent that will determine the quality of your work.

    As we speak I'm researching ánd using CNC to aid me with my carving miniatures. A friend of me calls it "carving with your mind". Different compared by doing it by hand but just as admirable to me.

  5. I recently saw a nice 36" CNC carved Roosevelt dime in full bas relief. All driven from an .obj file that was created in a 3D program.

    Also a very nice Japanese style Koi tabletop engraved with lines from a CNC controlled laser, driven by an Illustrator vector drawing.

    Just two examples.

    All of this kind of stuff is becoming available to individual designers as bespoke possibilities for prototyping and manufacture.

    We have always to remember that at one time even oil paint and bristle brushes were new technology.

  6. Pinepanels High Density MDF is compliant Phase II emission limits of the California Air Resources Board Regulation 93120.2 as certified by approved third party certifier.