Instantly recognizable to those familiar with our brand, Larrivée instruments have been a canvas for Wendy's inlay artwork for more than 40 years.
From concept to sketch, inlay to engraving, Wendy is a master of an extraordinary craft. With each of her tiny masterpieces, fantasy becomes a stunning reality - elevating each guitar she touches to a whole other level.
We are presently accepting orders for both Wendy's current works and custom inlay design. Up to three months working period may be required for current inlays not in progress. Custom one-off inlay designs must be approved by Wendy Larrivée and are subject to individual pricing. Please contact your dealer for more information on these spectacular works of art.
Archived & Custom Works
In 1971, as part of her woodworking program at the Ontario College Of Art (OCA), Wendy Jones decided to make a dulcimer. Her search for material brought her to Jean’s Larrivée's small guitar making shop above the Tarragon Theater in downtown Toronto. He sold her a set of maple backs, a redwood cedar top, and a Rosewood fingerboard blank - and a lifetime creative partnership was born. They married in 1972 and soon she was expanding her skills and taking on finishing work in the downtown Toronto shop. But that wasn't enough. Wendy was intrigued by the inlay work of Jean's shopmate Jim Hale and later Tony Duggen-Smith, who eventually created the silver border on our headstocks today. Her artistic flame was ignited and a life long passion was born.
In a small space above the spray booth, with meticulous jeweler saws, dremels, and gravers, Wendy produced the first of her many spectacular inlays, tiny pieces of fine art that would become an integral part of Larrivée guitars over the next four decades. When Larrivée moved his operation to Victoria in 1977, the inlays became more complex and far more detailed. Wendy (and for a very brief time, shop artist Heather McRae) began inserting cameo portraits, mythological creatures and art nouveau style portraits, inspired by the works of Alfons Mucha.
40 years later, Larrivée guitars are still a canvas for Wendy's precision work - it's obvious in the decorative fretboard and headstock inlays that adorn many of our Deluxe Series and Custom Shop instruments. Hand drawn, each headstock is unique, its engraving and scrimshaw a world in miniature. A mysterious veiled dancer from an exotic land, a majestic soaring eagle, a sprightly jester - each piece is a patchwork quilt of colorful pearl, abalone, and exotic wood; visual textures telling a story with distinct characters that take on a life of their own.