Intarsia is an applied decoration that uses multicolored wood to create elaborate designs that sometimes cover the entire surface of a piece of furniture. The variety of figure and color along with the natural features of wood, such as grain and texture are used to create a picture. Intarsia is similar to marquetry, but far more intricate. Elaborate designs of landscapes, entire interiors of rooms with architectural details, gardens, marriage processions and entire stories are created. Intarsia was the preferred form of decoration of Italian Renaissance style furniture, and was so popular that furniture was designed with large, smooth surfaces in order to leave room for this type of ornamentation.
Intarsia is created by cutting intricate figures with minute detail out of varying shades and textures of wood or veneer. The pieces are assembled like a jigsaw puzzle with each piece being delicately worked and then glued together to form a picture. The picture intarsia is either divided into panels, with each panel telling part of the story, or it is assembled as one long design. When the design is complete it forms a single sheet which is glued to a smooth surface such as a tabletop or cabinet. Intarsia is also worked into bandings to form intricate, detailed borders on tables, desks and cabinets.
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