Wood Crafts

The art of processing wood

Brief history

The close contact with the fruitful nature was the chance for many generations of peasant handicraftsmen to know in every detail the great and the inexhaustible source of raw material – “the forest”. The Romanian peasant knew to see and to discover a friendly world, from which he used to take fragments in his house and in his yard, made from the same noble and priceless material – “wood”. The people had a special feeling, polished along many generations, of choosing the wood according to their needs, adjusting the natural shapes to technical necessities. The anonymous handicraftsmen of this people, who are endowed with the sense of shapes and proportions, often with rudimentary techniques, applied with great mastership at polishing a trunk tree, succeeded in creating objects, touching through their simple beauty, destined to some uses.



The existing documents certify this trade in Neamt area since immemorial times. Having the raw materials at their disposal – the wood of different types: oak, fir tree, lime tree, poplar, the people from there, artisans with “golden hands” have created in time real art objects, succeeding in combining the usefulness with the pleasure at building houses, cultural places, but especially making some objects for daily life use. There were built houses and annexes in the house-hold, churches, traditional furniture, home use utensils, all this being a justification of the fact that there was a real civilization of the wood here.


The research emphasized the adequacy of the dimensions and the science of assembling various pieces so different in function: tables, beds, wardrobes, shelves, chairs, benches, corner cupboards, dish shelves, bottom drawers, each of these in a variety of models. At these fundamental features of the Romanian rural furniture there can be added the coherent match between content and shape. The main category of the ornaments of the Romanian furniture is made from encrusting at the surface of the wood.


lemn01The basic decorating elements, whose combining more and more complex which constitutes the ornaments are the line and the circle, use din combinations more and more complicated, give a series of decorating motifs. On the Romanian furniture, the dominant decorating motifs are the ones related to the ancient images of the sun, of the trees and of man. The idea of “background” and “field” is present in the ornaments of the objects of the Romanian popular art.


At all these, the artisans’ imagination, creativity, desire and the pleasure of processing the wood, have led to making products of the most varied, keeping the main feature of combining the usefulness with the pleasure. Life has proven and still proves that the art of processing wood was and still is a trade which can be practiced during a lifetime, trade that can assure a minimum income.


Materials and working techniques


The raw material being wood, of different types: oak, beech, fire tree, lime tree, poplar, alder, was used at building houses, churches, as well as at making utensils for home use. The artisans in Neamt area succeed in using wood skillfully and with talent, emphasizing each time the natural fibre of wood, its colours and its “warmth”. These features are capitalized by the artisans, this way making a variety of products


The working techniques of processing wood used by the artisans, existing in Neamt area, are: cutting, peeling, notching, sculpture and pyrogravure. These are well known ancient techniques, with their help achieving extraordinary results in processing wood in Neamt area. There are used as tools: the saw, the axe, the hatchet and chisels with different shapes and sizes. The chisels were and are made in most of the cases by the handicraftsmen.


lemn02Processing wood in Neamt area has created in time more specializations of the trade: joinery, cooperage, wheelwright’s trade, shingle’s trade, etc. for these trades with a strong practical feature, there were artisans in every village in Neamt area. Simultaneously, there developed trades with a strong artistic character, the artisan’s concern for reaching beauty being obvious. This is the case of the handicraftsmen who fretworked the board used for decorating the house, the verandahs, the windows, the pillars, etc.


A serious occupation which also requires a special talent of the handicraftsmen was making the bottom drawers in which the eastern side is obvious, in the case of Neamt area. It is the case of the three bottom drawers from the Ethnographic Museum of Moldavia in Iasi, come from Pipirig, Ghindaoani and Cracaoani, which have on the front side a beautiful ornament made of symbolic elements: the sun motif and the tree of life motif. Nicely decorated are the spoons and the ladles made in Neamt area, which have encrusted the same motifs.


The art of wood at its place

lemn03Value and beauty, talent and imagination, all these there can be found in all the handicraftsmen make in Tolici. Following the tradition that exists in every family, in Tolici there can be met artisans who know how to use the wood’s fibre, to envisage the colour in order to obtain, in the end, real masterpieces (spoons, ladles, barrels, vases, etc).


lemn04Speaking about the artistic processing of wood in Neamt area there has to be mentioned the name of other artisans who sculpture wood, obtaining objects of great artistic value in the end. It is the case of the creator Vasile Gaman, from Lunca, Vanatori commune, the one who organized a museum appreciated for the diversity of the wooden objects, which is worth visiting.


lemn05In Pipirig, another popular creator, Chirila Gheorghe, carves in wood with talent different furniture pieces, mirror frames, but various small objects, as well: trays, frames for the photos, etc. There has to be outlined that, in the present, popular handicraftsmen who are still processing wood in Neamt area have turned to making furniture for churches and alter screens.



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