learning intarsia

This is an example of intarsia. There are many who would love to receive this as a gift. It will stand on its own, but it also has a hanger for the wall.

The intarsia method of woodworking uses different woods for the various colors, without using stains, etc. Each piece is cut, fitted and shaped to give a 3-D effect. Intarsia projects are not puzzles.

Some intarsia woodworkers are less strict, but they may not be located where some exotic woods are available. I'm not an intarsia purist, so I will use a stroke of white paint to give a gleam to an eye. Or I may even use a black permanent marker if I don't have just the right small piece of ebony wood. 

This chickadee is my first effort at learning intarsia. Making nice intarsia pieces was something that I really wanted to try. So I just took the plunge. I didn't read up on methodology. That was a mistake. I was totally lucky. The pieces fit very closely because the bird is so small and has so few pieces. The bird is only 4" from beak to tail.

Flushed with success I then tried the same thing on a sailboat that had about 3 times as many pieces. I had some bad gaps. And decided 2 things:

1) I would not be immediately good at every type of scrolling, and

2) I would never be good at any phase if I refused to first learn how to do it properly.


The photo of my sailboat looks pretty, but as one intarsia specialist described a couple of his, it's a 6 footer.  You have to stand 6 feet away so you won't see the gaps.  But I thought the use of wood and especially the graining was very nice.  So I was progressing in learning intarsia.  One of the most attractive aspects of intarsia can be the imaginative use of wood grain to fit the subject.


And I have improved.  If you'd like a project done for you, please contact me.  I can't quote exact prices here because the piece would be custom-made for you:  one of a kind.  I don't have a warehouse of pieces waiting for someone to ask for them.  Or you can write to:  Bob Betting, 5 S. Allison St., Lakewood, CO  80226.


The effects of using various woods of different graining patterns and colors with the same basic pattern can be striking.  This can be seen by comparing the 3 angel projects below, which vary from 8" to 11" tall. 


Keep in mind that photos and text can be transferred from this site to MS Word by copying and pasting. In a Word document you can then click on the photo and adjust the size from a corner, giving more size for comparison. However, since the DPI of the photos used on this site are severely restricted, enlarging may make them too fuzzy.  

I don't remember the size of this hummingbird, but it was less than 12" wide.

For those who are intarsia woodworkers, or would like to be, click here to read my intarsia hints. 
This link is not yet hooked up. 
 I hope intarsia appeals to you. If you'd like a custom-made piece, I would work with you on the design, colors, wood, size, etc. you would like. And if not, we won't do the project, of course. You can contact me by emailing me at:  famden2@comcast.net

Or by writing to:  Bob Betting, 5 S. Allison St., Lakewood, CO 80226


The original pattern for this intarsia giraffe was 18" from nose to neck and I knew I wanted it much smaller. But I reduced it far too much, and didn't recognize that until I started on the eyes. Each eye has 5 parts and I thought I'd maybe never get it done, especially since it was only the 4th intarsia piece I'd tried. The 'spots' on the neck were cut and they fit almost perfectly without sanding. I'm unduly proud of it.

But nobody can hire me to make another giraffe this small.

The above project is an example of how a small addition of intarsia can dress up a design. Just think how this will dress up his (or her) desk. And of course the choice of intarsia subjects is almost infinite. All these or other gifts could be made to order, therefore we should talk about the time required to complete any of them.
Above is my first effort at creating my own intarsia pattern.  This 8" tall Stegosaurus is the Colorado state fossil, but no one knows the real colors of dinosaurs, therefore one can use lots of inventiveness. 
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