Young Man Wows with Intarsia Art

Josiah Hurst, of Sweet Home, was the talk of the town in Lebanon during the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce Biz Expo on April 18.

Dressed crisply in a red plaid shirt and blue jeans, the 12-year-old stood at a booth displaying his works of art with his parents and siblings on-hand to help.

“This is his first time trying to sell it commercially,” mother Sarah Hurst said. “Since he started making them, he’s just been giving them away as gifts.”

Calling his “business” Sweet Home Intarsia, Hurst put up for sale his art designs that were pieced together like a puzzle from different types of wood.

“I take different kinds of wood, like wenge and cherry and yew, and I use a pattern and cut it up,” he explained. “Then I sand it with a drum sander then glue it all on a backboard. I don’t use stains or stuff. I just use the clear stuff on it.”

People visits Hurst’s booth at the Biz Expo in Lebanon. Photos by Sarah Brown

Some of his more elaborate pieces, which were not for sale, included a cowboy fixin’ to rope a cow, and a couple sitting at a grand piano carved from dark walnut. Many of his other pieces were of various types of animals, which he said is one of his more favorite designs to work on.

“I’ve sold a couple, but more people want special orders,” he said.

Many people stopped by his booth to look at his work and talk to him, sometimes asking for special orders. Visitors at the Expo could be overheard raving about his talent and being surprised when they learned it was not the work of the father but, rather, of the boy at the table.

Hurst said he started doing wood intarsia (the art of inlaying wood into a design from different types of wood) for a little more than a year now. He learned the skill from a book and uses patterns to cut the shapes with a scroll saw.

“Wenge is the hardest wood I’ve ever cut. It dulls the blades really fast.”

The homeschooler hopes to turn the hobby into a real business, and he said he’ll put the money he earned at the Biz Expo back into the business or save it.

“It’s an initiative to get my schoolwork done fast,” he said about the hobby. “It’s fun seeing everything just come together at the end.”