Mother of pearl has officially been dethroned by bone inlay. For a long time, jewelry, decor accents, and furniture inlaid with mother of pearl were the height of sophistication. The beautiful iridescent shine amped up the look of anything it touched. The magic of mother of pearl inlay still exists, but the hype today is around bone inlay. What seems to have started the craze, in particular, are the Anthropologie bone inlay furniture currently available on their website. These artisan pieces are exquisite. The time and craftsmanship put into creating these items is mind blowing. So, what is bone inlay and how is it produced?
Let me start off by saying this. Bone inlay is less of a thing and more of an art. Skilled craftsmen practice the art of bone inlay mostly in India. This process involves gathering discarded bones from animals, most often camels (Note: No animals are slaughtered for this process. Ethical practices are followed when gathering remains of animals that have died naturally). The bones are then carved or filed into shapes that will be used to develop an intricate pattern. Once all of the bones are laid, a hot resin will be poured over the entire piece. This is what will become the background color of the item. Once the resin has cured, sanding will begin.
The resin is sanded down to the level of the bone, thus revealing the inlay pattern. The item will then go on to finishing where it will be cleaned, fine sanded, polished, etc. The process itself is very cool to watch (video below), but undoubtedly time consuming and labor intensive. Without question, if you have an authentic bone inlay piece of furniture, you have something truly special in your hands. And, if you have an item that is a combination of bone inlay and mother of pearl, keep it forever! It is a work of art.
Now, I would love to be able to say that you can purchase right here from DianneDecor.com. But, unfortunately you cannot. As you may or may not know, we specialize in affordable, inexpensive home decor items. Authentic bone inlay is well… not that. Expect to spend anywhere from $500 – $3000 on a piece of furniture featuring bone inlay. Anthropologie’s collection is undeniably gorgeous. Crate and Barrel along with West Elm also have offerings.
AHA! Now you’re talking my language. The answer of course is an easy DIY project. You can create an immitation bone inlay piece from the comfort of your own home. This can be done with furniture you already own, paint, and some stencils. One caution when attempting this project, it is very easy, but take your time stenciling and painting. You’ll want a crisp pattern without any smudging or smearing. If you’re careful with your creation, no one will be able to tell from a distance that your dresser is not bone inlay. They’ll simply see a beautifully patterned piece. If you’d like to try this out here is a link to a tutorial on CuttingEdgeStencils.com.
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