Poltava Forum

+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: Tracery Woodcarving: How the Beautiful is Born

  1. Tracery Woodcarving: How the Beautiful is Born

    Administrator fragov's Avatar
    Join Date: Nov 2008
    Location: Ukraine, Poltava
    Posts: 196
    We all look at the buildings surrounding us. We admire frescos, paintings, and other works of art. Most often, however, we see only a ready product. Seldom do we recall the people in whose heads the images originated.

    Any work of art occupies two lifetimes--the period of its creation and the time the completed work exists. Many people encounter great works during the second phase, but few of us are lucky enough to share the moments when the art is created, to witness the transformation of the artist’s ideas into material being. Recently, however, I was able to observe the creation of many magnificent woodcarvings when I visited a joiner’s shop in the town of Poltava.


    Roman Rugalov, the chief of the shop, was artistic even as a boy. One of his first occupations was creating micro carvings on jewelry. About six years ago, he and his friends established their first workshop in a small house in Poltava. Gradually, the excellence of their work was noted and important customers appeared—including churches, cathedrals, and wealthy clients. Eventually, they were forced to relocate to a larger shop. Their current project involves creating beautiful carvings to grace the interior of the recently built Michail Gold-dome cathedral in Kyiv.


    Tracery woodcarving is a very laborious and difficult process that requires not only tremendous skill, but also patience. The carver should have vision. He should be both an artist and an artisan who can construct a composition allowing for the particular sort of timber to be used. Roman Rugalov is such a man. The customer tells Rugalov what he wants. Before starting the carving, Rugalov must draw the composition on paper in the actual size. Then the figure is transferred to a surface of billet or work piece. If the project is a complicated and free composition, it’s copied on a tracing paper and then transferred to the billet through a carbon.


    Rugalov and other experienced carvers execute the most difficult operations. Other workers prepare the materials, glue boards, and pre-treat the billets on machine tools. The workshop has its own forge and a man who creates the numerous (several hundred) carvers’ tools to be used. Therefore, it’s important to have an in-house specialist who can produce the instruments, keeping in mind the demands of sharpening and heat treatments. Also, many carvers prefer to create the wooden hand levers for their instruments themselves, to fit their own bodies.

    The material for each carving is chosen carefully—most often a soft wood such as linden or alder. It should be clean and without defects. After the saw cut, the timber has to be dried for about two or three years in natural conditions for it to produce the best result. The texture of the wood is largely inconsequential, since a decorative finish is often put on the completed product.

    A typical workday in the shop begins by nine o’clock in the morning, but each worker defines his own schedule according to the job he has to do. After treating the surface of the work piece with a cutting tool, it may still have some unevenness. So, before starting the final operations, it’s necessary for the workers to grind all the details separately. Even those details that will be placed high should be perfectly smooth. Once each bit is complete, it is piled on the far side of the workshop or hung on the walls. Each month, a collection of finished parts is sent to Kyiv, where many of the pieces may be gilded with gold.


    The gilding process

    First, a special pad called “levkas” is applied to the carved part. It is a white material prepared from a mixture of glue and alabaster dust and is spread with a soft squirrel fur brush and then leveled with soft, wet cotton or a finger. When it’s dry, levkas provides a perfect yellowish white surface similar to polished bone. Then, light gold foil is used. The leaves of foil come in books of sixty to one hundred pieces. The thickness of a single sheet may reach 0.00001 mm. The gold foil is subdivided into sheet gold, “susal” gold (face of gold and back of silver or copper), and brass (a gold “clone” constructed from copper and zinc). The next layer after “levkas” is polyment, a special paste made of clay, soap, bee wax and pure pork lard. It’s applied in layers. A single gold foil must be lightly blown away from the book to separate it. Then, it’s necessary to put the leaf on a little leather pillow with a curbing in order to cut it to fit the surfaces to be covered. After that, the carved wood detail is wet with twenty-five percent solution of ethyl alcohol. The slice of foil is picked up with a brush and carefully transferred to the surface. A cotton plug is used to push the trimmed foil into any crevices, and then a soft brush peels away the excess. To fill any gaps, leftover gold foil is blended with egg white and used as a golden paint.


    Another gilding method involves oil gold plating. The carved detail is pasted over with gauze or thin paper, dried, and primed with ardent natural oil in two strata. Cavities are filled with jointing paste and the fractures by putty. The surface is painted by golden ochre and, at last, varnished. A leaf of a golden foil is put on the varnish when it’s slightly dry.

    Gilding is the last operation in a long process that begins in the forest and the minds of the artists and ends in a palace, church or museum. However, the word “ends” is not quite accurate, because works of art give birth to new ideas in the imaginations of all those who admire them.
    Reply With Quote 
  2. Re: Tracery Woodcarving: How the Beautiful is Born

    Junior Member
    Join Date: Jul 2013
    Posts: 2
    great post, but how do i see the images?
    Reply With Quote 
+ Reply to Thread

Visitors found this page by searching for:

tracery carving

wood tracery jointing

carving tracery

tracery wood-carving

tracery wood carving tools

tracery carvings

billet tracery

woodcarving secialist

carving tracery wood

tracery art in eggs

wood carving beautiful

jewelry poltava

tracery wood carving chisels

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts