Lynne Buss got an education in
manufacturing and then spent nearly five years working as a
mechanical engineer. And then, she decided to
try to find a job that used her hands and let her work from home.
Back in her high
school days, aptitude tests had indicated that she was equally suited
for artistic and technical pursuits. "The technical world
requires artistic abilities, and the artistic world requires
technical abilities, but I was trying to find something to suit
both," she said. She settled on marquetry. "The technical
aspect of it attracted me and also the tangibility. It suited me
really well," she said.
childhood, Lynne had seen a marquetry scene her grandparents brought
back from Venice that inspired her. Her inlaws' home was also filled
with such images: her husband's grandfather had worked as a
Lynne started out her own woodworking
career, about 26 years ago, using the
grandfather's tools, including a "tiny" scroll saw.
Back then, it was a challenge to find
the woods she wanted to create her images, since there was no such
thing as Internet shopping, and the appearance could vary so much
from log to log. "I'd have to call and say, 'I'm looking for
walnut, and burled, and highly figured…'" she explained. She
does not use dyes, stains, or fillers in her pieces, which are all
created from veneers. Nowadays, Lynne can go online and look for
specific pieces of specific types of wood, of specific colors.
Lynne aims for marquetry scenes with a
contrast between light and dark woods, although she admits having a
personal preference for darker woods. "They're more interesting,
more highly figured," she said. "There's a lot of bland
woods out there, and I don't like those. It doesn't make for a nice
scene because I don't have the color contrast."
Lynne's usual process is to stack and
cut the woods for her images, which helps when she puts the scenes
together. "If one's lying right next to each other [when she
cuts them[, it's' a better fit," she said. Highly figured woods,
while attractive, unfortunately don't always lie flat for this
process, she said. "And rosewood is difficult to glue because
it's so resinous; I have to treat the back with rubbing alcohol
before I glue."
Even with fluctuations in wood supply –
"sometimes it's harder to find maybe lacewood, or bright white
English sycamore for a while, and then it will come back" –
she does try to use similar woods throughout her work. "So if
somebody wants to buy, say, three pieces, they go well together,"
Saleability has also influenced the
topics of her scenes, which are currently all landscapes. (She
has tried other subjects, such as animals, in the past, but they just
didn't sell as well, she said.) All of the landscapes, in turn, are
based on real landscapes – predominantly areas where her family has
lived, such as their current Colorado abode, or the Washington and
Oregon areas of the Northwest from their previous residence.
with a line drawing created from photo, and I've sometimes added my
own artistic license," she said. "I look at it as a
silhouette." When she's creating, for example, a mountain scene,
Lynne said, the mountains in the back of
the image are a little lighter in color, and they get progressively
darker as the image moves forward.
Lynne's landscapes incorporate both day
and night scenes. For the nighttime visions, she has a computer
program that allows her to input real star patterns. She creates the
intarsia constellations with brass disks she's punched out of
She also makes panorama scenes, which
is her current favorite project to work on. "It's a larger
project, and the frame is stepped, more shaped – I do the framing
and enjoy that part of woodworking as well," Lynne said. "I
prefer doing a bigger project. My scroll saw only has a 16"
throat, so to cut larger pieces is more of a challenge, and more
rewarding as well."