Jack Smidmore is an inlay artist who has worked as a luthier at Brook Guitars since 1996
Based in the south west of England, he designs and creates intricate hand-cut inlays using a wide range of beautiful exotic woods, abalone and pearl
If you are interested in any of Jack's work, would like to discuss a commission or check the availability of one of the pieces on this site then you can e-mail him directly, the address is at the bottom of the page
Pricing for inlay work varies according to size, complexity and time taken to produce each individual piece. The 16:9 ratio inlays measure 174x84x10mm and will cost between £100 - £200. The square designs measure 164x164x13mm and will cost between £200 -£300 (Guitar headstock inlays will also cost around this price, for any luthiers interested, the inlay can be provided to them unmounted to be inlaid or used as a replacement head veneer)
All inlays will be provided with a handmaid slide-together wooden stand so that they can be easily displayed on any flat surface around the home
How long have you been doing inlay work?
I've been doing the inlay work for Brook Guitars for over ten years now but everything displayed on my website has been done over the past five years
What do you use to cut your inlays and how long does each one take from start to finish?
All of my inlay work is cut out by hand, using a fret saw (with incredibly fine-toothed 0.6mm blades) The time it takes to finish each inlays does vary but on average most of my 16:9 pieces take around sixteen hours to complete. My newer square designs have stepped up to another level in complexity, with the number of individual pieces often reaching up to around one hundred per inlay, and can take thirty hours to complete
What materials do you most like to use?
My preference is definitely to use wood for my inlays, I love to use the natural colour and beauty of various different exotic woods in my work. I will often design inlays with a particular piece or selection of woods in mind and get a lot of satisfaction from working out how exactly to best use a particular natural wood colour or grain pattern to add further detail to each individual section of the inlay
Abalone and Pearl also has a nice 'shiny ' natural beauty that is well suited to guitar inlay work, I've often used a combination of both, along with wood, for my Brook Guitars inlay work, Abalone and Pearl is usually sold in very small 1" square sheets which, for me, really limits its use to smaller designs
Why is ebony used as a base for inlay?
Inlay work usually involves 'inlaying' a material (either abalone, pearl or wood) into a cavity cut into a base-wood (on a guitar this would usually be on the fingerboard or headstock) Unfortunately, It is virtually impossible to excavate this cavity perfectly, there will inevitably be a slight gap surrounding the inlay. By using ebony as a base, these gaps can be disguised by filling them with fine ebony dust, flooding these dust filled gaps with superglue and sealing the inlay in place. My work is slightly different in that I cut my ebony 'background' pieces in a similar way to the rest of the inlay but the principle is the same, there will be gaps that will need to be filled
What (or who) inspires you?
The inspiration for doing my inlay work is selfish really, I get a huge amount of satisfaction from it. I imagine anyone who creates any kind of art would understand, it's very involving, each one is a challenge and the whole time that you are working you are hoping for that sense of achievement with the finished piece. If other people like my work then that's great (I would like at least one other person to like each of my pieces enough to actually buy them!) but that is not why I do them
Do you ever contemplate suicide?
Yes, at least twice a year
Here you can read the Babbling Brook newsletter that focuses on the inlay work I have done for Brook Guitars over the years, including a one-off art nouveau inspired guitar & a piece about the art of inlay
Before I started to do inlays I spent years drawing, here is a selection of my work