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Judges Rules page title


As applied to our International Exhibitions
(amended October 2007 – see italics for additions to existing rules)


The executive committee of The Marquetry Society will appoint judges (normally three), and from these, will appoint a senior judge. A trainee will also be appointed.

The senior judge will be responsible for coordinating the judging tasks and for liaison with the host group exhibition manager.

The senior judge will also be responsible for verifying the consensus reached on awards to be given, and present the results, in written form, to the host group exhibition manager.

AWARDS TO BE GIVEN BY ELECTED JUDGES: (details as per current spring Marquetarian)

  • Class awards in line with notes 4 & 5 below
  • The Rosebowl – best entry in the competition
  • The Wendy Gibbons Vase – best from class 1, 2 or 3
  • The Walter Dolly Salver – best entry from an Independent Member
  • The Artistic Merit Cup – best entry from the list of eligible entries
  • The Jack Byrne Cup – best piece of geometrical marquetry
  • The H Pedder Trophy – best portrait from the list of eligible entries
  • The Art Veneers Cup – best use of veneers
  • The Ron Gibbons Cup – best miniature from class 6a, 6b  or 7c


Three Veneer Class: All three veneers should be used in the picture itself. It should not be a two veneer picture with the third used for the borders/edges. Similarly, all three veneers should be put to good use and not, for example, be a picture of an animal from two veneers with the third used as a dot for the eye.

Miniature Class: A miniature should be a ‘true miniature’ and not, for example, depict a life sized image of a butterfly or flower etc

Portraiture Award: This award should go to an exhibit whose central theme is the likeness to a real person. This is not to say that the person necessarily needs to be famous or likely to be known by everybody. Entrants should be aware that a photograph, drawing or facsimile of the source material that the exhibit is based upon must be included with any entry submitted for this award

Judges have the freedom to withhold awards should they feel that the exhibits are ‘not up to standard’ for a particular class. (Awards are normally: First, Second, Third and up to 15% Highly Commended in each class)

Judges may give a VERY HIGHLY COMMENDED or HIGHLY COMMENDED award to an exhibit not gaining a 1st, 2nd or 3rd which is of a sufficiently high standard to elevate its maker to a higher class. This will be at the judge’s discretion and the percentage of such awards is based solely on the perceived quality of the exhibits within any given class being judged. The total number of HC’s and VHC’s should not exceed the 15% maximum guideline


  1. A judge is not permitted to enter an exhibit into any of the competition classes.

  2. A judge must declare to his/her fellow judges, any interest or prior knowledge of any exhibit he/she is called upon to judge. This does not prevent the exhibit from being given a ranking by that judge.

  3. Should a judge have to cancel for any reason, the Marquetry Society General Secretary must be informed at the earliest opportunity so that a replacement may be found.

  4. Judges must be familiar with the GUIDELINES and bear them in mind whilst judging.

  5. Each judge must appraise all exhibits in every class.

  6. The trainee judge should carry out the task as if one of the main judges and give exhibits a ranking in the normal way. However only the three main judge’s votes count towards the awards.


Judges will be provided with a ‘work pack’ which will list all exhibits in the competition by class, exhibit number and exhibit title. The entrant and group will not be disclosed. Lists giving details of exhibits qualifying for special awards will be included; currently – The Walter Dolly Salver, the Artistic Merit Award (to be awarded by an artist chosen by the host group) and the H Pedder Trophy.

In line with item (i) of the guidelines, the following procedure is the recommended method of working. It helps if judges are not in each others way when making their initial appraisal.

The first three classes can be appraised simultaneously with one class taken by each judge. After two rotations, a consensus can then be made on these three classes, and if it helps the host group, the agreed results passed on to them. Otherwise it can wait until all results are in before the host group is informed. Judging can then continue with the next three classes and so on until all awards have been agreed.

This procedure may not suit every occasion, and it is the responsibility of the senior judge to use his or her experience to determine the best procedure to use.

Once the senior judge’s signed off results sheet has been passed to the host group, and rosettes and other attributions placed alongside the appropriate exhibits, the senior judge should double check that no mistakes have been made.


Judges should endeavour to not let their personal subject matter preferences affect their judgement when assessing an exhibit. ‘Is it a good example of its kind?’ should be the consideration.

 Whilst the overall appearance of a piece must be considered, it is the marquetry content that is the most important element to be judged.

Wood veneers, Mother of Pearl, Ivory, Precious Metals etc are all valid marquetry materials and are to be judged as such.

Whilst excellence in every regard is desirable, the various aspects of a marquetry work should be ranked as follows:

High Ranking 

Veneer choice 
How well the design has been interpreted in wood veneers.
How effectively the figuring, grain and textures of the veneers have been used.
The manner in which the veneers ‘do the work’?
The way the tones and colours blend.

Execution of difficult features.

Aesthetic appeal   
How well the design works as a piece of marquetry.
Is it visually rewarding?
Is it well balanced?

Medium Ranking

Borders & mitres 
How well the border/stringer/banding suits the work.
Accuracy and uniformity.

Application, squareness.

Laying & sanding 
Flatness & lack of bubbles or wrinkles.
Cleanliness, smoothness & freedom from marks and scratches.

Coverage, Evenness, Smoothness.

Final finish
(No one kind of finish should be ranked higher than another. Whether it is French polish, Lacquer, Wax or Sealer etc it is how well it is executed that counts. Likewise with gloss, satin or matt finishes)

Lower Ranking

Backing veneer
Application, finish.

Hanging method 

Adequate, presentable.


A work that has used veneers economically should not necessarily be seen as inferior to one which contains a multitude of pieces of veneer. A single piece of veneer that works well should be rated just as highly as a complex multi-pieced representation that in itself works no better than a single well chosen piece.

Minor indiscretions such as slight border mis-alignment, minor cutting errors, polishing imperfections or low quality hanging arrangements etc. should not in themselves be seen as reasons why an otherwise excellent work should be dismissed and not considered worthy of being given a ranking.

The Society’s definition of marquetry should be borne in mind when considering the use and effectiveness of non-natural veneers in a marquetry exhibit. This refers to the use of dyed veneers; man made veneers, bleached or scorched veneers and the like. It should be considered whether or not such veneers have been used tastefully, with discretion and in keeping with the piece.
Definition:- ‘Marquetry is the art of making pictures and enriching other articles of wood with decorative designs and patterns by the skilful use of the grain, figure and colour of wood veneers, the separate parts of the picture or design being cut to shape, assembled and glued to a prepared base board or background. Although the materials most used for this work are thin veneers of wood, other materials may be used’.

Any suspicions or concerns that an entry is not eligible for any reason should be referred to the Society’s Secretary, President or most senior person in attendance for investigation. Final decisions should not be made until the query has been resolved. The senior judge will be advised as to who has been appointed the point of contact for all queries.

Judges should form individual opinions before conferring and coming to a consensus on ranking the exhibits.

Judges are requested to take written or recorded notes pertaining to award winning exhibits, which can be referred to subsequently, should individuals, request a critique. Constructive appraisals published in The Marquetarian are looked upon as valuable and useful to Society members, and judges are requested to, either collectively or individually, provide material for the magazine’s use.

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