Kat Cat Intarsia

Handmade Intarsia-Custom Orders

Hi! my Name is Kathy and I want to introduce you to the art of intarsia. I have found

that more often than not people that I run into do not know what this ancient art form is.

Here is a brief history along with pictures just to familiarize you with this process. The

ancient art of intarsia- the making of decorative and pictorial mosaics by laying precious

and exotic materials into a ground work of solid wood- inspired both marquetry and inlay. 

The word “intarsia” is derived from the Latin word “interserere” which means to insert.  

Through the centuries, monarchs and people of wealth employed craftsmen to create

beautiful works of art from wood. Works like this are seen in the histories of ancient

Egypt, Rome, Persia, Japan, and Germany and Italy, where the best example are found.

The traditional process, involving many long and demanding steps, was both expensive

and painstaking.


In Italy, where the techniques are more than 100 years older than in other European

countries, Intarsia was originally made by sinking forms into wood following a design,

and the filling in the hollows with pieces of different woods. Initially only a small number

of colors were used. The only tints that were used were black and white. In the early

fifteenth century-at the beginning of the Italian Renaissance- the craftsman produced

graceful works perfectly suited to the raw materials at hand. After the invention of

perspective drawing ambitious intarsia crafters used this representational trend in wood. 

 Much of their work focused on simple objects like cupboards with their doors partly open

 to show items on the shelves. Here are two intarsia panels constructed around 1520 by

Italian artist Fra Giovanni da Verona. The first one is from a monastery near Siena and the

 second one is from a church in Santa Maria in Organo, Verona.














These intarsia panels are perfectly flat panels. The appearance of open cupboard doors is

a trompe I’oeil effect created by a masterful artist. In the hands of these artists beautiful

effects may be obtained by using varying shades of one kind of wood. In the best works

of the period pear, walnut, and maple were the principal woods used, although pine and

cypress can also be found.


The fact that we have any intarsia today is due almost entirely to one person-Judy Gale

Roberts who revived the art in the late 1970’s.  She was joined by Jerry Booher in the

eighties and together they created beautiful pieces for sale, and due to Judy’s artistic

 talent thankfully began to produce patterns and books which spread the art of intarsia

to craftsmen world wide.


Here is a picture of a tiger that I made from one of her patterns.  It is made with all

hardwoods and exotic woods consisting of cocobola, walnut, maple, and spalded fir

was used for the background.  You will find other pictures that I have created from

her patterns on the Catalog page.