Similar to the decorative art of marquetry, intarsia involves compressing cut pieces of wood into a tight, solid structure. Because of the size of the components, the latter technique produces more three-dimensional forms that tend to be fastened with dabs of glue.
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British artist T.A.G. Smith employs this assemblage method when sculpting his small bird busts, portraits, and single feathers encased in boxes. Each piece begins with a digital rendering, followed by Smith carving shapes from myriad types of wood, allowing the color and grain of the materials to determine its placement in the final form. The resulting sculptures, which Smith likens to a jigsaw puzzle, combine anywhere from six to more than 600 individual pieces into sleek, realistic depictions of eagles, hawfinches, and puffins.