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The Self-Taught Marquetry Artist Carving A Niche In Brisbane

Studio Visit

A lot of us are avid thrift shop rummagers, but you wouldn’t typically expect strolling into one could lead to total career change!

That’s the story for Dagmar Maini, a self-taught wood marquetry artist based in Redcliff, Brisbane. Today we pop by her home studio, to hear more about her path to this unique form of woodcraft.

4th October, 2018

Self-taught maquetry artist Dagmar Maini. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Dagmar creates sculptural wooden wallhangings. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Inside her studio in Redcliff, Brisbane. Pictured here ‘Rain Reflection’. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Dagmar watched YouTube tutorials and borrowed books from the library to learn all her woodcraft skills. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

She has a keen interest in Native American culture and Native cultures. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

‘Each piece I make is a reminder of the close relationship we all have with Mother Earth,’ says the artist. Pictured here (clockwise from top): ‘Mother Nature’, ‘Rooted We Flow’ and ‘Dimensional Travel’. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Detail of ‘Rooted We Flow’. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

‘‘I always had a hyper-creative mind and creativity was what always helped me to get through the hard times!’ says Dagmar. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Pictured centre: ‘Awaking’. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 4th October 2018

‘Marquetry challenges me to pay close attention to detail, every cut has intention.’ – Dagmar Maini.

Dagmar Maini grew up in an artistic family in Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) before moving to Australia 22 years ago. ‘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. So, the love of handmade crafts was always valued in my family more than anything you could buy from a shop,’ tells Dagmar.

Studying a range of courses and working different jobs when she first arrived, Dagmar has been focusing on woodwork since 2014. It all started when she walked into a charity shop one day and picked up a beautiful wooden tray with inlay. ‘I suddenly felt that I needed to desperately learn how to make it – a gut feeling I guess you call it,’ she recalls. ‘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 and ordered some veneers.’

Across the nights that followed, once her children had gone to bed, Dagmar would sit trying out different techniques listening to music. She also reached out to another Brisbane-based marquetry artist, Michael Cheshire, who has become a key mentor and inspiration.

Dagmar is most known for her sculptural wooden wall hangings, with modern flair. Her keen interest in Native American culture and Indigenous cultures is evident in her fascinating pieces – the latest of which is inspired by Tuareg jewellery! ‘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!’ she details.

Marketing and selling unique, fine handcrafted products is not without its challenges, especially in a world where all things handmade are now widely undervalued. Nevertheless, woodcraft has long provided solace for this self-confessed ‘hyper-creative mind’ and she’s relished the freedom to practice each day. ‘Sometimes its easy to get wrapped up in the fear and doubt of it all, which can get very isolating,’ reflects Dagmar. ‘But it’s my absolute passion to reintroduce an appreciation and awareness of quality craftsmanship to the people around me, and provoke any kind of reaction.’

See more of Dagmar’s pieces at Dagmarmaini.com.au.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net