Inlay

Inlay

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Inlay is a decorative technique of inserting pieces of contrasting, often coloured materials into depressions in a base object to form patterns or pictures that normally are flush with the matrix. In a wood matrix, inlays commonly use wood veneer
Wood veneer
In woodworking, veneer refers to thin slices of wood, usually thinner than 3 mm , that are typically glued onto core panels to produce flat panels such as doors, tops and panels for cabinets, parquet floors and parts of furniture. They are also used in marquetry...

s, but other materials like shells, mother-of-pearl, horn
Horn (anatomy)
A horn is a pointed projection of the skin on the head of various animals, consisting of a covering of horn surrounding a core of living bone. True horns are found mainly among the ruminant artiodactyls, in the families Antilocapridae and Bovidae...

 or ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 may also be used. Pietre dure, or coloured stones inlaid in white or black marbles, and inlays of precious metals in a base metal matrix are other forms of inlay. Master craftsmen who make custom knives continue a tradition of ancient techniques of inlaying precious metals; additionally, many new techniques which use contemporary tools have also been developed and utilized as well by artisans.

Inlay in wood furniture differs from marquetry
Marquetry
Marquetry is the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures. The technique may be applied to case furniture or even seat furniture, to decorative small objects with smooth, veneerable surfaces or to freestanding pictorial panels...

, a similar technique that largely replaced it in high-style European furniture during the 17th century, in that marquetry is an assembly of veneer
Wood veneer
In woodworking, veneer refers to thin slices of wood, usually thinner than 3 mm , that are typically glued onto core panels to produce flat panels such as doors, tops and panels for cabinets, parquet floors and parts of furniture. They are also used in marquetry...

s applied over the entire surface of an object, whereas inlay consists of small pieces inserted on the bed of cut spaces in the base material, of which most remains visible.

Inlay is commonly used in production of decorative furniture, where pieces of coloured wood or metal are inserted into the surface of the carcass. Lutherie inlays
Inlay (guitar)
Inlay on guitars or similar fretted instruments are decorative materials set into the wooden surface of the instrument using standard inlay techniques. Although inlay can be done on any part of a guitar, it is most commonly found on the fretboard, headstock —typically the manufacturer's logo— and...

 are frequently used as decoration and marking on musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

s, particularly the smaller strings
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

.


The most famous example of furniture inlay in Europe may be the late 15th century Studiolo http://msimonetta.web.wesleyan.edu/wescourses/2002s/ital233/01/gallery/studiolo.jpg made for Federico da Montefeltro
Federico da Montefeltro
Federico da Montefeltro, also known as Federico III da Montefeltro , was one of the most successful condottieri of the Italian Renaissance, and lord of Urbino from 1444 until his death...

 in his Ducal Palace at Urbino
Urbino
Urbino is a walled city in the Marche region of Italy, south-west of Pesaro, a World Heritage Site notable for a remarkable historical legacy of independent Renaissance culture, especially under the patronage of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482...

, in which trompe-l'oeil shelving seems to carry books, papers, curios and mathematical instruments, in eye-deceiving perspective. The similar private study made for him at Gubbio
Gubbio
Gubbio is a town and comune in the far northeastern part of the Italian province of Perugia . It is located on the lowest slope of Mt. Ingino, a small mountain of the Apennines. See also Mount Ingino Christmas Tree.-History:...

 is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

(illustration).

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