T.A.G. (aka Tom) Smith combines his two great loves - wood and wildlife - by using an ancient technique known as intarsia to create wall hanging sculptures of birds and feathers. Intarsia is similar to marquetry in that it uses different coloured timbers to create an image. Intarsia uses much thicker bits of wood than marquetry so they can be carved to make them look more three-dimensional. By raising and lowering certain areas more depth can be added to the sculpture. Each piece of the sculptures is individually hand cut, carved, sanded and polished. Then the pieces are fitted together like a jigsaw and glued together. Tom uses the natural colours of different timbers, from native species to the UK like sycamore and oak, to exotic species such as wenge and padauk. Commissions make up the majority of his work.
Tom's woodworking journey began as a hobby at the age of 10, when he made a very rough box with his father from an old bookshelf. He instantly fell in love with woodwork and later saved up for his own basic tools and machines. He bought his first scroll saw when he was 14 years old and taught himself the ancient art of intarsia from books. Combined with his deep-seated passion for birds he later started designing his own intarsia sculptures using the natural grain patterns, textures and colours of different timbers to mimic the incredible natural beauty of birds.
From a small workshop in his parent's attic Tom continued to hone his skills. With demand increasing for his work the time came to upgrade his basic tools and machines. He realised the combined weight of the new machines would be more than the floor could withstand, and would probably bring the whole lot crashing through the ceiling of his parent's bedroom below. It was at this point Tom moved his workshop out of his parent's attic and into a unit in an old textiles factory in the village of Gotham, five miles south of the city of Nottingham. He still works there to this day.
Tom sells his work all over the world and has been featured in a number of national and international publications including We Are Makers, The Woodworker, World of Falconry and Craft & Design. He also exhibits his work around the UK during the Summer at shows such as Birdfair.