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Union County artist practices intarsia

4:40 PM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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A Union County artist practices an ancient art that's seeing a new revival.

She's always been artistic.

"I tried stained glass and I made one piece. Took me forever. And I said ok I've done that. I don't want to do that again," Arlene Sprague said.

Then about 15 years ago, Arlene Sprague read a book by Judy Gale Roberts on intarsia.

"And I thought that's really neat. It looks like stained glass in wood," she said.

It's an ancient art form requiring a lot of patience.

In the basement of her Union County home she draws a pattern, carefully cuts out the the pieces, and carefully sands each piece of wood to shape it.

But that's just the beginning.

She uses a dremel tool for more precise shaping then finishes each piece individually to give it a shine.

"You really have to appreciate what the grain in that wood is doing so the piece is going to make sense when you put it in to the intarsia," she said.

The art form is forgiving in one way because she can always replace a single piece.

"If you get it all cut out and you have a piece all ready to put together and you think ooh I just don't like the way this looks you just pick it out, cut a new one, and put it in. And as long as you cut it carefully and can make it fit it works fine," she said.

Arlene likes horses and flowers and angels.

"You start with the wood and it kind of looks dusty and the color of the wood is kind of drab and then you put the finish on and it just comes to life," she said.

You can see Arlene's work as well as that of dozens of other local artists at the Union County Arts Coop.

"It's great to have a place like that where all the folks around here have a chance to bring their artwork and display it and sell it. It's really nice," she said.

It's an art form she embraces and excels at.

"I enjoy wood. I've always loved wood. My favorite things to work with are fabric and wood," she said.

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