Soon after the discovery of x rays and their property of constructive interference scattering (diffraction) by solids resulting from the ordered array of atoms forming the solids, it was proposed that man-made (synthetic) layered structures might extend the range of utility of this phenomenon into spectral domains not accessible using naturally occurring crystalline materials. The synthesis of such layered materials has been of research interest since the 1920s, and in the past decade processes for the formation of multilayer structures of sufficient quality for x-ray optic applications have been developed. In this paper a brief review of the history of this work is given. The development of effective synthesis processes is then considered and current approaches summarized. The current status of the field of multilayer x-ray optics is then discussed, with emphasis on figured structures. Current limitations and the potential for both technological and scientific advances are then considered.