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Craig Thibodeau page title

Craig at work
Craig Thibodeau of San Diego, CA begins to create a marquetry design for a new furniture piece.
Craig's quote number 1
Dogwood Table
Mahogany, Walnut Burl, Holly, Poplar, Rosewood.
(30" h, 32" w, 14" d)
Dogwood Table

I grew up with the expectation that everyone had a home workshop. We certainly did, and both my parents were able to use tools to build things around the house. So, it was natural that I would have my own home shop, after I graduated college with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Though my profession was product design (specializing is non-metallic, man-made materials), I found pleasure building solid-wood furniture in my home shop. As I improved my skills, I found people interested in my work and willing to pay for it. I soon discovered that I had created a secondary business, which grew to supersede my engineering work. Today, I’m a full-time woodworker, who occasionally does product design consulting.

Entering work in San Diego’s Design in Wood exhibition for a number of years, I became appreciative of the work by many of the other craftsmen, especially that of Paul Schürch of Santa Barbara, CA. I particularly liked the floral imagery that he was creating. When I learned that he was conducting workshops in his shop, I signed up for a 1-week class, which was later followed up by a 1-week session on classical methods with Patrick Edwards.

That was my jump start into marquetry. Over the next year, I created 3-4 marquetry pieces, the first being the Campion Table (below), which won a First Place in Veneering / Marquetry in Design in Wood 2006 and Best of Show at Sonoma’s Artistry is Wood, last year.

I enjoy working with solid wood, but most of my pieces are veneered. There simply are so many more options in terms of figure and wood colors available with veneers, within a price range that anybody can afford. For example, the very complex Egyptian library cabinetry installation (bottom right) used some 100 sq-fl. of Sapelle veneer. Even if l could find that much solid wood, it would have been astronomically expensive.

My work can be said to be contemporary interpretations of art deco. For selected pieces, I add imagery in the form of flowers, branches, and animals. I see the addition of decorative marquetry as a doorway into unique and exciting visual forms and more expressive freedom. As opposed to some who use marquetry for subtle highlights, my work is more intense, with the marquetry being a focal element of the piece. My process sends to be in-line with that of Paul Schürch, using commercial veneers, modern finishes, modern materials, and modern glues. My clientele doesn’t have on appreciation for the historical methods, nor are they willing to pay for the additional production costs.

My Gardenia Sideboard (below left) is a good example of this work. With three doors and six drawers, it combines function with an eye-appealing imagery. It was the first in my series of demi-lume cabinetry, where I explored working beyond a flat plane.
Gardenia Sideboard

Gardenia Sideboard
Wenge, Block Figured Anigre, Quarter Sawn Maple, Ebony,
Pau Ferro, Boxwood, Maple, Poplar, Holly, Anigre.
(36" h, 72" w, 16" d)
Campion Table
Pau Ferro, Figured Satin wood, Holly, Ebony, Poplar, Dyed Poplar.
(31" h, 26. 5" dia.)
Campion Table
Winning Best of show at the 2007 Design in Wood show, this piece increased the visibility of my work through publication in a variety of national and regional magazines.

Up to last year, Design in Wood has been my primary marketing channel, producing many of my commissions. For example, the Bubinga Table (below) resulted in the sale of eight variations, and the Gardenia Sideboard produced a commission far the Blue Ulysses Sideboard (on the magazine cover). Though smaller in size, it is a bit more refined than the Gardenia Sideboard—with thinner legs and more detailed veneer work.

Though I will be entering more shows this year, galleries are becoming more important in exposing my work. I recently began showing at the Dovertail Collection in Healdsburg. CA, where I sold the Dogwood Table (above) on the first day. I also have pieces at Aikomei in San Diego, CA and the Once A Tree gallery, opening this month in Anaheim, CA. To see more examples of my work, visit my web site:

Craig's quote number 2

Egyptian Cabinet (left Segment)
Cherry, Pomelle, Sapele, Maple.
(9' w, 33' w)
Egyptian Cabinet
Bubinga Table
Bubinga, Wenge, Mahogany, Jatoba.
(17" h, 42" w, 34" d)
Bubinga Table

© Woodworker West

This article reproduced with the kind permission of Woodworker West

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