Wood handicraft

Spoons, dishes, bowls, masks, toys, sculptures, furnichings, statues of any kind and dimension characterize the craft production of the whole Dolomitic area. Even houses feature decorative and structural wooden elements.
In fact in this area, in a period when these valleys couldn't offer anything better, carving wood pieces to obtain something useful was the only opportunity to supplement the meagre winter budget .
At the beginning woodcarvers created simple house tools or Carnival mask, but then technique developped more and more in the production of dolls and toys, decorations and precious inlaying, until it reached the perfection of contemporary creations.

Towards the end of the Renaissance, especially in Val Gardena, these activity turned to a key element of the economy, and the inhabitants of these valleys started to sell their own manufactured articles abroad, getting the secrets of the decorative technique out of the gothic and baroque European heritage and using it for the sacred Val Gardena furnishing.

Saints statues, cribs, inlayed frames, realistic and grotesque characters soon conquered the western and overseas countries. In 1800 the well-known Art schools of Selva Val Gardena and Ortisei were founded.

Nowadays, any hamlet of the Dolomitic area preserves its own wood workshops, where skilled craftsmen create their unique, entirely hand made work, following the old traditions and methods. Some of them reinterpret traditional themes in a modern way, while others try innovative techniques, yet following the craftmanship concept.

Manufactured objects belong to several genres and they must be discovered in each valley.

- In Val Badìa and in Moena in Val di Fassa you can buy boiseries with rosettes, decorations, coats of arms, and stube reconstructions; the stube represents the typical Tyrolese living-room and is usually furnished with boiseries decorated with religious images, or with flower patterned chest of drawers, with solid wood tables, and doors with greeting inscriptions.

- In Cortina d'Ampezzo, Brunico and in Val di Fiemme "kachelhofen" (majolica stoves, that faithfully reproduce those of the old Tyrolese masi) are produced and restored.

- In Falcade, wood is carved in the shape of lothes, jackets, cases and umbrellas; Molino di Falcade guests the house-museum of the artist Augusto Murer, whose passion for "wood" began as he was still a young boy and made him a well-known sculptor.

- Antique trade is Cortina d'Ampezzo, Comelico, Madonna di Campiglio and the whole Val di Sole main characteristic; in Comelico and in Cadore you can find, painted Tyrolean country furniture.

- In Sappada the well-known wooden masks master the "Carnevale Sappadino".

- The radition of wicker and straw manufacturing survives in the Agordino, in Rivamonte and Gosaldo.

- Wood is still carved in Val Badia, in the Marmolada, in Falcade and Auronzo.

- In Val Gardena and in Val di Fiemme there are sculptors, craft workshops and little shops with wooden objects, especially in Ortisei and Selva Val Gardena, Tesero, Cavalese e Predazzo.

- In Val di Fassa in the 19th century craftsmen used to visit each house to decorate furnishing with Tyrolean patterns and nowadays there are still people who continue this tradition painting holy altars, furniture, cupboards, stubes or restore original decorations and old furniture of farmers' houses and Tyrolese masi.

- Val Zoldana is well-known for its cuckoo clocks, miniatures inspired to wood life and characteristic toys. In Fornesighe, always in Val di Zoldo, a special role is played by the wood inlaying technique and the carving of masks; this is where the wooden mask carving competition "La Gnaga" takes place.

- Cortina stands out for the oriental-inspired taste of its particular caskets, ornaments and furniture decorated with geometric patterns, and for the metal wire arabesques, as well as by the solid wood antique furniture, and the classic Tyrolean furniture or the precious wood inlayings with mother-of-pearl and old wood sculptures.

- Bolzano is well-known for the restoration of furnishing from farmers' houses, 18th century antiques and the restoration of flower patterned decorations.

- In Val Pusteria, the old tradition of carving little groups of ibex and chamois with metal horns in trunks still exists; moreover old collection objects or antiques, cupboards and settles with flower patterned decorations as well as wood statues are easily available in the shops scattered all over the valley.

- In S. Candido, every year there is an international snow sculpture competition.

- Bressanone offers old wood sculptures, Tyrolean furniture and antiques, engravings, frames and stube furnishing; in the Crib Museum, in the bishop's Palace, you can admire more than 10000 characters of the crafts tradition; in Naz Sciaves there is the museum dedicated to Rudolf Bacher, a well-known wood carver.

- Wood furniture decorated with Tyrolean patterns are manufactured in Merano.

- In Feltre, in June, you can visit the important "Regional artistic and traditional handicraft exhibition".

- Every month in Farra d'Alpago you can visit the nice local arts and crafts market; in Tambre d'Alpago, in the longaronese and in Cadore wooden inlayed toys, masks and statues, caskets, photoframes and enlayed ornaments, geometrically patterned with mother-of-pearl decorations are made.

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