Know Everything About Things You should Know about Inlay Decoration

Carving was the earliest ways of decorating the woods. This carving was done almost in all types of woods. It gave a new looks and a generated a new interest for furniture. And then you have inlay type of decoration, an alternative of carving.

At the same time as carving came into use, there was introduced an alternative type of decoration: inlay. This took many different forms over the years, varying from simple straight lines in wood of contrasting colour to the ground (called 'stringing'), to the elaboration of marquetry in which the inlay often covers a greater proportion of the surface than the ground.

This latter was in great demand shortly before 1700, when the form known as 'seaweed marquetry*, so complicated in pattern that the walnut ground could scarcely be seen at all, came into prominence. This fashion did not last for long after the start of the new century, but there was a revival of it in a weak: manner in about 1860. Many different woods were used in marquetry; some were dyed in bright colors and others darkened by scorching to enhance the effect. Pieces of bone, tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl were also used sometimes.

A popular inlay on walnut furniture is known as 'herringbone', and consists of a band of two narrow strips of the same wood placed together with their grain meeting diagonally. The effect accounts for the name, which is alternatively 'feather-banding'. A further type of inlay is known as 'cross-banding'. It consists of a band of inlaid wood, often to be found at the edges of a table-top, in which the grain of the wood runs outwards.

Inlaying with a narrow strip of brass was done occasionally in the eighteenth century, but mostly in Regency times when more ambitious shapes, such as stars, were attempted also. It was very popular, and is looked on now as a feature of the period.


Moldings varied in shape with each period, and their study will help to identify the date of a piece of heirloom furniture. The narrow half-round molding found on the edges of many eighteenth-century drawers is known as cock beading'.


Lacquering was practiced in the Far East for many centuries before it was introduced into Europe. Chinese and Japanese craftsmen decorated furniture by painting it carefully with many coatings of the sap of a locally grown tree, then after it had been well smoothed it was painted with designs in gold and colors. Some of this work was brought to England at the end of the seventeenth century, and became popular enough to be imitated as closely as possible by both professional and amateur artists, and much furniture made in England in the early 1700's was ornamented with this pseudo-oriental lacquer. In addition, pieces of English furniture were sent out to the East to be embellished in the authentic manner by local craftsmen, and quantities of cabinets and other home furnishings of Far Eastern manufacture were sent to all countries of Europe.

In addition to the lacquer just described, in which the smoothed surface was painted upon, often with small areas raised to emphasize details of the pattern, there was another type in which the designs were cut and then colored. The finished article showed a smooth black panel into which were incised colored designs about one eighth of an inch deep. This was called 'Bantam' or 'Coromahdel lacquer, and was made often in the form of large folding screens. Some of them were of as many as twelve leaves, each about two feet wide and eight feet high. Occasionally, on arrival in Europe they were cut up regardless of their pattern to make cabinets or other pieces of heirloom furniture.

We have seen the various types of decorations that a wood can be give. The carving, inlay, moldings, and lacquer are the most common forms of wood decoration. These forms of woods decorations generated a lot of interest among the English in the eighteenth century. And many imitations of these kinds were produced to meet the demands.