Intarsia Wood Crafts


Intarsia wood crafts are wooden artworks that contain decorative inlaid pieces of wood. This form of artwork dates back to 13th-century Italy, and at that time, was usually created in ivory on wood. These crafts are similar to mosaic tile work, and take a very skilled hand with a scroll saw. When learning, it is best to choose projects that contain only three to four pieces of inlaid wood.

Selecting Wood

Wood is the heartbeat of the intarsia craft. There is some question if other art techniques should be used in conjunction with wood pieces. Strict intarsia artists prefer to achieve color differentiation through different woods. However, some believe that wood can be colored through staining and paint. When learning this art form, there is no need to determine exactly on which side of the "color or not to color" argument you should fall. Yet, it is important to know which woods produce what colors in a composition. Aspen, poplar, holly and basswood should be used to create a white or light appearance in an art piece. Medium-colored woods include maple, ash, beech, birch, cedar, oak, butternut, sycamore and cherry. To achieve a red color use red cedar, redwood, blood wood, rosewood or mahogany. Yellowheart, satinwood and yellow pine should be used for areas that need a yellow hue. For dark to black areas use black walnut, ebony and wenge.

Transferring Patterns

After copying a pattern onto a clear piece of paper, like tracing paper or wax paper, choose an option for transferring the pattern to the wood. Accomplish the copy-and-paste method by gluing or taping a copy of the original pattern pieces directly onto the pieces of wood. You can also use carbon paper to trace the patterns directly onto the wood. Experiment with these methods to determine which technique works best.


After a piece is cut out, lay the piece directly onto the pattern. Ensure that the wooden piece is the exact same size as the pattern. Keeping the pattern and wooden piece the exact size will make certain that the piece fits snuggly into its position, and will eliminate gaps. When cutting out the pieces of the intarsia art form, start by cutting out the largest section, and piece the other parts into it. This will help to achieve a snug fit. As individual parts of a piece are made, tape the pieces together so that they adhere tightly to each other. This will prevent the slipping that may occur during the assembly process. All art works should be assembled the first time without glue. For the final construction, assemble the individual wooden pieces on a sheet of wax paper or a backing board. Use yellow wood glue to glue the pieces together. Make sure to wipe off any excess glue immediately. If using a backing board, don't forget to apply glue to the back of the pieces to help them adhere to the board.

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About this Author

Susan Elliott is a published poet, artist, and photographer. She has been writing professionally for 10 years, Her works have appeared in Visions and Poesia, as well as on Associated Content, and Mom's Red Kitchen. She has a degree in general studies from Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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