"Discovering A Lost Art Form"
by Conrad Grundke

Learning Commesso, Part I

   The art form we call "Intarsia" (Commesso) outwardly resembles the art form of the same name that was highly developed over the past 600 years in Florence, Italy. The Italians have passed on their tricks and techniques from generation to generation, in some cases for 10 generations. Here in America we feel fortunate when our second generation takes up the art. In addition, very few American artists have come here from Europe with any of this knowledge from the old country. Most of those who do this work in America learn the process on their own, or, if fortunate, from a compatriot in a lapidary club, who learned it on his own. Many of our methods are totally different from one another because there has been no cross-communication between artists.

   Hopefully this article will generate some interest in trying a most rewarding art form and will be the start of a truly American art form that we can pass on from this generation to the next. Perhaps we can even eventually change the name from "Intarsia" which is an Italian methodology we do not use, to "Commesso" which more nearly reflects our American techniques.

Materials Needed:
   tracing paper
   transparency film
   a 1-foot-square pine layout board with a 1/4-inch edge on two sides
   wax paper
   steel push pins
   Devcon five-minute epoxy
   330 epoxy
   Carnauba automobile wax

Tools Needed: (* Must have, # Nice to have)
   *trim saw
   *diamond/silicon carbide grinding wheels
   *horizontal lap wheels (24-inch cast iron/8-inch diamond)
   *diamond saw blade for jewelers saw
   *600 sandpaper
   *selection of Dremel/Foredom tools:
   dental drill,
   1/8-inch router,
   1/4-inch router,
   1-inch router,
   1-inch slitter wheel (diamond)
   *3/4-inch Mizzy Wheel (silicon carbide)
   #nibbling saw (a grinding wheel arbor with an 8" trim saw blade on each end)
   #stained glass router (Glaspar, etc)
   #band or wire saw
   #sanding drum


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