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More about Intarsia

Intarsia takes its root in Italy where it was widely practiced from 1400 to 1600 as an early form of wood inlay. Intarsia artwork is created by selecting different types of wood and using its natural grain patterns and colors to assemble pieces and create an image based on a pattern. Each piece of wood is individually cut , shaped, and sanded before being fitted and assembled like a jig-saw puzzle. The more pieces in the image, the more complex and time consuming it will be to make. 

As an example, in the Jaguar piece (below), there are more than 600 spots in the jaguar.  The spots were cut out of Wenge which is a very dark and hard wood from Africa.  Each spot was cut and fitted into a lighter wood called Iroko (also from Africa) which is equally hard.  More than 100 hours was required to cut and fit all the spots in the Jaguar. 

Jaguar by Kathy Wise

To give you a sense of dimension, this Intarsia artwork is 5 feet wide, weighs in at 65 lbs, and took more than 1 year to complete working on and off (I was seeing spots in my sleep).  In the end. it is made up of well over 1,000 pieces!

Each finished Intarsia artwork is fitted with a backer usually made of 1/4 inch plywood to solidify the piece.  In the case of the Jaguar, it was 1/2 thick. A finish is finally applied to enhance and preserve its beauty. The frame for the entire artwork was custom made and re-enforced to support the weight of all that wood.


The pattern for the Jaguar, the branch, the snake, and the love birds were provided by Kathy Wise.  The rest, including the frame, was designed from parts of other patterns and from my own imagination.  With Intarsia, you can really let your creativity run wild.

So what's the big deal about Intarsia?

Considering all of the available species of wood that have their own unique color and grain pattern, each Intarsia artwork is truly a one-of-a-kind creation.  The rich colors of exotic wood combined with a durable finish create an artwork of great beauty that can compliment any decor and will quickly become a subject of discussion with your friends and family.  

Below you will find several pictures that depict some of the work involved in doing the face of the Jaguar. 


I hope that this information has triggered your curiosity regarding Intarsia artwork.  Dont forget to look at my gallery of Intarsia artwork in the portfolio section.

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