Meet Yorkshire's straw marquetry master who wants to pass on her knowledge of historic craft

It is a craft that can trace its origins back to the 17th century, and became a foundation of one of the most famous movements in the history of modern art.

But the expertise needed to master straw marquetry is now practised by a dwindling number of crafts people across the globe.

However, one of just 120 people around the world skilled at marquetry is now hoping to open up the art to a far wider audience.

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Delphine Robins works in an attic workroom in Scarborough stocked full of rye and makes a host of items from trays and panels to jewellery boxes and bookcases from the reeds.

Delphine Robins doing some straw marquetry at her home in Scarborough
Delphine Robins doing some straw marquetry at her home in Scarborough

The French-born artisan is self-taught, and was inspired by a television documentary she watched seven years ago.

“I had just put my son to bed, zapped on the television and this documentary was on a channel I did not know,” she said.

“I sat down and said ‘Wow! I watched it on repeat the next day, searched the internet for information and off I went. It really is a passion and it has never left me.”

Mrs Robins now wants to share her passion with others who want to learn the art of marquetry, and will be hosting a series of workshops in Scarborough from next week.

Delphine Robins of Scarborough displays some of her Marquetry designs she has created at her home

Straw marquetry appeared in the 17th century and subsequently became hugely popular among creators of the Art Deco period, one of modern art’s most revered movements.

Marquetry is a craft which takes time, patience and precision to perfect – and requires few materials and utensils.

Rye which is supplied by three outlets in the Czech Republic, France and the USA, is used in the art, along with tools including a bone knife, a scalpel and a specialist hammer to flatten the reed.

The straw can be dyed using an array of natural pigments to transform the natural golden hues into a spectrum of shades, ready for the creative process.

Straw’s natural colour includes diffused and delicate shades that lend themselves to the overall sheen and lustre that appear in Mrs Robin’s refined designs.