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Marianne Leal

Marianne Leal straw marquetry, The Straw Shop

Marianne Leal

From France, The Straw Shop welcomes lecturer, demonstrator and teacher Marianne Leal. Marianne’s use of straw in various sizes creates the most fabulous optical illusions we just had to share her work.

She explains her journey with straw:

“In 2015, I trained as a marquetry / cabinetmaker at La Bonne Graine (art school, Paris 11ème).
During this training, I discover the straw marquetry. The material fascinates me.
I learn the basics of straw marquetry.
Research, readings, daily practice, the gesture becomes more precise and meticulous…
I find myself in this material.”

“After obtaining my cabinet maker diploma in 2016, I embarked on my passion for creating decorative objects. For my creations, I am inspired by the 1930s art deco period as well as traditional patterns of marquetry ( checkerboards, point of Hungary, sun,… ) and according to my inspiration.”

“Straw goes very well with geometric shapes. Each object remains unique, even if it is designed in a small series.I create decorative objects such as empty pockets, bottle coasters and coasters.”

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Marianne Leal boxes

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Marianne Leal at work, Courtesy Marianne Leal

Marianne continues her story translated from French to English:
” My inspirations: Drawing, geometric shapes, the 30’s and Art Deco, decorative arts and contemporary art, …
A movement, a shape, even a conversation everything can be a source of inspiration for me.
When I work on a piece of furniture or a wall decoration it is mostly traditional marquetry patterns that I will use. For example the sun used in the wall decor.
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décor mural, Courtesy Marianne Leal

I can also have fun modernizing it, for the coffee table I cut the tray into four parts. And instead of starting the sun from the center, I made them start from the corners of the tray.

Marianne Leal, Straw Marquetry, French straw marquetry, The Straw Shop

Marianne Leal table, Courtesy Marianne Leal

I let my imagination run wild when I create my paintings.
I am inspired by optical illusions and impossible figures.
One finds, also, the optical illusions in the work of the traditional wood marquetry, as for example: a motive of play of bottom or cube without bottom. One makes believe in volume, in the three dimensions on a support in two dimensions.
My first paintings, created 5 years ago, had for subject optical illusions, for example: a double cube without bottom. I put a bottomless cube in another one. Or always from the cube, I made an impossible figure inspired by the work of Escher.
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Cubes, Courtesy Marianne Leal

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Samples 2, Courtesy Marianne Leal


At that time I was working mostly with straight lines, not yet with curves, or the
illusion of curves.
For the last paintings, very inspired by Vasarely, I still work with straight lines
but I want to give this impression of volume.

As if one or more spheres were going to form and come out of the frame. The work of the straw is not easy. Its understanding is essential.  I began by making paintings by working on optical illusions, impossible figures.

Thus marrying my taste for drawing, geometric shapes applied to straw marquetry.”

Straw optical panel in the style of Victor Vasarely, Courtesy Marianne Leal straw marquetry, The Straw Shop, Marianne Leal,

About straw itself, Marianne offers this insight: ” It’s main quality is a natural shine due to the presence of silica in the straw. Each strand of straw is unique, it has taken on the hues, it captures the light in a different way from its neighbor.”
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Straw marquetry by Marianne Leal,Courtesy ProAntic

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Sphere Courtesy Marianne Leal-Marqueterie de Paille


“The work of plant fibers is present in my family for several generations.
I created my activity in 2018.
Since then I present my work at fairs (JEMA, art craft fairs) and I exhibit my paintings in a gallery (JLF,
Marché Biron, Puces de Paris Saint Ouen) and may be found on Instagram: @marianne_leal_marqueterie”.
The Straw Shop is pleased to share Marianne Leal’s very unusual work and welcomes her to the Artist page.

Copyright 2023, Jan Huss,The Straw Shop and Marianne Leal