Hand Carving Traditions
Hand-carving in the geographical area where our crucifixes come from has a long tradition: first wooden crucifixes appeared approximately around 1700 A.D. The craft was passed from generation to generation. It withstood the first and second world war. In 1948 communists took power in Slovakia and they actively persecuted Christians. But the tradition survived even forty years of persecution. Thanks to devoted ordinary people, the tradition lives today and this website is its testimony.
A picture is worth a thousand words - so please come with us to explore through pictures the traditional way of making wooden devotional articles.
The carver makes sure all his tools are razor sharp, they should leave a shiny cut through the wood. If there is a nick in the blade, it will leave a white streak.
It is recommended to use softer wood like linden wood for the corpus (easier to carve) and harder wood like oak wood for the cross (it gives the crucifix structural hardness). The chunk of the wood to carve should be at least one inch larger than the final piece.
The carver secures the wood on the table so that both hands are free to control the tools. He keeps both hands on the tools behind the sharp edge at all times.
He holds the handle of the gouge in the right hand and uses his body weight to push it. With his left hand, he holds the metal shaft to guide the cut. The left hand acts like a brake so that the tool doesn't slip out of control when pushed forward.
The carving is accomplished by cutting in a downward direction onto the parallel lines of the grain. The direction of the grain is determined by looking at the darker streaks of the annual rings, that indicate the long cell fibers that run from the roots of the tree to the leaf canopy.
Large U-gouges help to remove the maximum amount of material. Large shapes are established first - they're defined by major planes of the corpus. As soon as the basic shapes are rounded, the details are added with small gouges.
The Final Result
A Beautifully Hand Carved Limited Production Crucifix