Contrasting woods can be used to transform an ordinary stool into a personalized piece of art, through the use of inlays.
Using a picture as a template, lines are carefully traced into vectors, which are then cut into the stool top (making 'pockets' in the stool top, about 3mm deep). These same vectors are then used to cut the inlay from a contrasting wood, and this inlay is glued into the pocket in the stool top. Using different woods and grains in multiple steps, its possible to create complex and beautiful inlays. The logo below (shown on the finished stool above) was created using purpleheart, cherry, and black walnut on a maple stool top. The picture below shows the unfinished inlay, and several applications of an oil finish brings out more contrast in the natural colours of the wood. As the different woods age the colours will become deeper and richer, giving more depth and character to the inlay. For this reason I always prefer to use natural finishes rather than stains on my work.
Below is a series of pictures showing the process of creating a beautiful inlay from 4 rather ordinary woods.
Starting with a maple top, the first pocket is cut. The lettering will have a maple background, so the maple is preserved around the letters.
Unlike paintings, these inlays will never rub off or fade away with time. Rather, they are meant to be used, felt, and sat on. Over time, the woods will age and become more beautiful. Scratches and dents may occur, but will only add character to a functional piece of art.