For those interested in knowing more about the art of Intarsia, below is a summary from an article by Robyn Ryan, History of Intarsian.
Intarsian (marquetry or inlay) is the art of 'painting' with wood on furniture. During the 14th and 15th centuries, marquetry was practised in Italy, the technique evolving through the Florentine School of Marquetry. Benedeitto da Maiano (AD 1444-1496) is credited as being responsible for the style of marquetry we know today, although the art form did not become popular until the 16th and early 17th centuries.
Marquetry is a craft whereby the marqueter makes intricate pictures and geometric designs by cutting and fitting together thin pieces of coloured wood (veneer) or other such highly prized timbers for their colour and lustre (cedar, satinwood, ebony, blackwood, rosewood, mahogany), other precious materials such as tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl, inlays of gold, pewter and silver. When the picture is complete it is attached to items of furniture.
This was very labour intensive and expensive to produce and as such was only available to royalty and those of high society. Thus traders and carpenters were always searching to entice buyers by making their wares different. They quickly adapted the marquetry style and created veneer painting. Instead of using precious metals, shells and rare woods, they created a special paste made out of grounded maize, called it Kleister medium, add paint to it and created patterns with this mix by using coarse brushes and various other tools and stencils.
Today life is much easier for the craftperson. We no longer have the laborious task of cutting stencils and making maize paste. Instead we use low tack masking film, water-based paints and commercially produced Kleister medium. We also use MDF Board or inexpensive pine with a base of yellow or gold to give a rich undertone to the veneer painting. This is then antiqued to give the aged mellow tone of marquetry that most of us find unobtainable but still desirable.
Anyway, as the story goes .... Zaharah brought her friends over 2 weeks ago to view my work. Kak Maznah was impressed by my Intarsian tray that I did in 2003 and requested for a class. Since time is of the essence in doing this technique, a workshop was created ... and that was exactly what we did last Wednesday, 18Jan 2012 ... my first workshop for the year :)
The 4 ladies keen to take up the task :)
It was a tedious laborious job as one needs to have patience and steady hands and the passion to persevere, but it was a job well done by these 4 ladies. What remains now is to shade and antiqued the plaque ... and there you go ... an heirloom to be passed on down the generations :)