Michael Retter

Dorset born, Michael Retter began experimenting with marquetry in the 1950s whilst at sea as a marine engineer. Twenty years later, his interest was rekindled. In his spare time over the next ten years Michael revised his self-taught book methods, developing new techniques and refining his art whilst making wall panels and portraits for exhibitions and private commissions. In 1986 Michael was commissioned to make 80 marquetry panels equivalent to 65sq. metres for the new Australian Parliament House, mainly featuring Australian flora. Since retirement in 1991, his part-time interest has become a full time occupation.

Michael has collected samples of over 150 timber species but he finds that 90% of his work uses only 10 species, e.g. Qld Walnut, Jarrah, Blackheart Sassafras, Blackwood. Where possible Michael tries to use timbers from the flora species being depicted. He finds that the most useful veneers in marquetry are often the waste and rejected parts of a log, the knots, mineral stains, colour variations and spatting.

Confident of his techniques, Michael is now more creative. He continues to make small panels but is seeking new ideas and directions. He is exploring the possibilities of collaboration with other wood workers and architects to use marquetry as decoration in their projects.

Marquetry Panels

Banksia Integrifolia
Sycamore, Green Kauri, European Walnut, ebonised Jarrah


Poplar, Camphor Laurel, Silver Poplar, Green Kauri, ebonised Jarrah

Weeping Myall – Acacia pendula
Sycamore, Blackheart Sassafras, Silver Poplar, Green Kauri, Queensland Canary Ash, ebonised Jarrah

85W x 30D x 1050H mm


Michael Retter has been creating marquetry for over 50 years, first taking it up as a pastime while at sea as a young marine engineer. During the1970's and 80's Michael honed his skill levels, elevating his craft from a serious hobby into a unique art form. In 1984 he was named Marquetarian of The Year at the Marquetry Society of America’s New York Exhibition.

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