As long as I can remember, I have always had an extreme need to create and to express. Making art for me is the most intimate activity, like writing or praying. I was born & most of my childhood was spent in communist Czechoslovakia. My family was always very artistic and crafty. My sister is a ceramic artist with her own gallery; my father is a graphic designer, cartoonist and wood-turner; and for as long as I can remember, my mum made almost all our clothes by hand. In an early age, she taught us many skills that I am most grateful for.
Love of handmade crafts was always valued in my family more than anything you could buy in a shop. Every holiday was celebrated with some sort of handicraft. As kids we were always surrounded by artists, makers and thinkers. I believe there are a few misconceptions about some aspects of life in communist Czechoslovakia. There was definitely lots of emphasis on nature, sports and leisure-time, and overall de-emphasis on materialism that has definitely stayed with me and formed me. Now it’s very important with my own family.
I emigrated to Australia in 1996. Few years ago I was going through some dark times; questioning our existence, my beliefs. I always found it quite absurd that we have such strong beliefs and worship invisible forces but can not respect and see the importance of the creations around us. Nature is something we would not be able to exist without. We all can learn so much by simply observing it.
During this time I had the urge to distance myself a bit from society. I felt I need to connect more with myself, re-organize and re-prioritize. I also felt how precious our time is here and can’t be wasted on stuff I don’t really like doing or that doesn’t bring any pleasure in to my life. And that’s when I decided to learn a new skill.
It’s a fact that we are losing our traditional skills because everything is so convenient, quick & easy. Everything is replaceable. I think people lost an understanding of “creative process”. Fine craft has become an undervalued aspect of today’s world and it’s my absolute passion to reintroduce an appreciation and awareness of this quality craftsmanship to the people around me.
So, one day I wandered into an op shop and found this beautiful inlayed wooden tray. Suddenly I felt that I desperately need to learn how to make this! Gut feeling they call it. I had no idea what I was doing, so I watched YouTube tutorials and borrowed books from the library. I found a supplier here in Australia, ordered some veneers and that’s how it all started. Every night after the kids went to bed I sat listening to music, trying different techniques. I also got in touch with another marquetry artist here in Brisbane; Michael Cheshire, who has been doing this craft for decades, and he has also been a great inspiration to me! Wood veneers have been used in furniture making for over 200 years and are most often associated with European luxury and privilege.
Wood veneer is “paper thin” cuts of wood. I love materials and design that are not traditionally associated with mass production and standards of perfection. Each piece is a reminder of the close relationship that exists between us and Mother Earth.
I really enjoy to pursue the challenging pathway to abstraction. You need to look hard and search, squint your eyes, turn head side…
“It takes courage to talk about something new; it requires vulnerability to stand up and say, ‘I have something to share’ and no matter what your message is, it’s not going to be for everybody.” —Carlie Maree
I believe that abstract art engages you at another level. We have to stop trying to understand it, and just feel it.
I don’t need that lots of people like my art. I think as soon as masses start to like art, it loses its value. I would prefer a handful of people to follow my art journey, but people who really appreciate its uniqueness, deepness and craft-woman-ship.
But that took me while to realize it… it’s hard and I am still learning. Self-reliance and individuality is not easy it comes with the risk of some amount of separation from the common populace.
I heard or read somewhere that “hiding ourselves out of the fear of rejection—we are actually rejecting ourself first!”
I love old things; they were built with love, dedication and they have stood the test of time. Most of my furnishing is recycled from my friends or found in thrift stores. I also buy most of my clothes in thrift stores or from the local designers.
The clothes I am wearing for the photographs are from a local Japanese designer Masayo—ala DOGSTAR. I absolutely love her stylish, unique and edgy style! How you dress is something so personal and comes from within. It’s an Art. Everything should be about Art and beauty. Life should be your best Art Piece.
My garden is my other huge, huge passion. My grandfather, father, Godmother are all passionate gardeners, so I think it’s in my blood. It’s so satisfying to see something grow and then turn into food or a beautiful flower with amazing colours and patterns.
I always carry my notebook everywhere.
I have a stack of notebooks on my bookshelf. All my art pieces or projects that I have turned into reality started in the pages of my notebook.
Ideas never emerge according to schedule; they emerge when I least expect.
Lots of Marquetry artists use a scroll saw. I do all my cutting by knife, it’s more time consuming but it allows me to produce more detailed work. Marquetry challenges me to pay close attention to detail, every cut has intention, and I let the grain of the wood lead and inspire me!
At the beginning I was really experimenting with my craft. My style was very inconsistent. But I never tried to force it. I think my style developed naturally over the years.
Because of my experimenting I developed many different skills. In 2020 during the COVID lockdowns, I purchased a DREMEL and started to work on combining 2 crafts—carving/texturing and marquetry. I think it works beautifully. Carving and texturing is very addictive. Once you start you cannot stop.
Working with wooden veneers is also considered an environmentally friendly option. You’re maximising that log in thin little sheets.
There are lots of steps in Marquetry and lots of waiting around for glue or oil to dry, so much of time I work on a couple of different projects at the same time.
An important step is to pick the right veneers. Some wood is very hard to cut and not suitable for smaller details; some are so brittle and full of deep grains that it is impossible to cut straight lines. Some wood is light colour, but changes colour after oiling, and that can really muck-up your design.
Some of my favourite woods to work with are Rosewood, Ebony, Kamarere & White Beech. I also love knotty veneers. It can give a piece so much more character and rawness. I am always on the hunt for some new exotic veneers.
Craftsmanship is very important—but not perfection. All veneers need to be applied so carefully that they look almost seamless. And that’s where good quality tools come to it. I mostly use scalpel and recently I found a great local knife maker who made some great quality knives for me.
The best part of Marquetry for me is the final sanding and oiling, where lots of little mistakes disappear and the oil brings it all to life. I have tried a few different finishes but now I only use Molly Polly or Scandinavian Oil.
I personally think there are lots of benefits from being self-taught. But you need to stop relying on outside motivators. You need to be your own huge motivator, each day showing up to practise your craft. Don’t stop when you get stuck or make mistake. There is no right or wrong path. It’s your path and it doesn’t mean that if certain things were done the same way for 100 years that your way is wrong.