The Art Of Inlay Work

Inlay work is done mostly on wood to decorate the surface with materials like marble, ivory, shells and niello. The surface has a design on it of an elaborate picture and depressions are made for the inlay materials to be inserted into it and create the picture. The technique of inlay work is different to marquetry, which though similar covers the complete surface of the furniture or any piece, whereas inlay is made up of many small pieces which are inserted into the grooves which are made on the main surface.

Inlay work is usually done on furniture which is of a ornamental type and is often used on musical instruments to enhance the appeal with metal and colored pieces of decorative wood being inlayed into the veneer. Instruments of Indian origin like the sitar, veena and many other string instruments have the wooden panel decorated with inlayed work. Maestros have their instruments made to order with their own design of inlayed work on their instruments. In India the inlayed work usually has ivory which is an expensive material. This is usually done on teak and rosewood furniture which is in palaces and the homes of royalty.

Some of the famous pieces of furniture in Europe can now be seen in museums like the furniture with inlay work which was made for Federico da Montefeltro and which is exquisite in its form and perspective which is eye deceiving. Many such pieces can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of art as they are heirlooms which belong to the history of the country.

Other forms of work done on surfaces with veneer to make decorative resigns and patterns is marquetry. This is a form of art which is used in a way very similar to inlay work. Parquetry is also a form of art which is used for decorating outer surfaces with geometric designs. This is used for covering larger areas like flooring. These two forms of decorative work to cover surfaces are not as old as the inlay work which is an ancient craft. A very popular form of parquetry is the herringbone design which can be used on wooden flooring or even on large tables. The geometric pieces of wood fit into each other to form a smooth surface but are visible because of the grains of the wood which are laid in a particular formation. 

These ancient forms of art are still in use and are found in the homes of the rich and the royalty.

Author’s Bio: Arturo Matsumi is a art enthusiast residing in San Fransisco, California. In his spare time, he writes articles related to the conversion of turning photo to art, photo into art, and painting from photographs.


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