is a form of wood inlaying that is similar to marquetry. The term is also
used for a similar technique used with small, highly polished stones.
The technique of intarsia inlays sections of wood (at times with contrasting
ivory or bone) within the solid matrix; by contrast marquetry assembles
a pattern out of veneers upon the carcase. The technique of intarsia is
believed to have developed in the Islamic world; introduced into Europe
through Sicily, the art was perfected in Siena and in northern Italy in
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, spreading to German centers and
introduced into London by Flemish craftsmen in the later sixteenth century.
After about 1620, marquetry tended to supplant intarsia in urbane work.
It is the craft of using varied shapes, sizes and species of wood fitted
together to create an almost 3-D inlaid, mosaic-like picture. It is thought
that the word 'intarsia' is derived from the Latin word 'interserere'
which means "to insert" and that it was originally developed in Siena,
Italy in the 13th century by crafters using inlays of ivory inserted in
wood as well as inlays of wood inserted into wall murals, table tops and
other furniture. Today, intarsia is created by selecting different types
of wood, using its natural grain patterns and colors (rather than dyes
and stains) to create the different colors in the pattern. Each piece
of wood is then individually cut , shaped, and sanded before fitting them
together like a jig-saw puzzle and gluing them to a piece of 1/4 inch
plywood backing cut to the shape of the final product. Sometimes, additional
pieces of plywood are used to raise areas of the pattern to create more
depth. Once together, a final layer of finish is applied and the project