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This is a place where the visitors are confronted with their search for a personal touch and where they have an opportunity to get acquainted with a skilled expert, who has turned durability and tradition into a personal passion.
I hope this will become a valued and rich source of inspiration and knowledge. Please Leave comments and enjoy your visit.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Custom made FRONT DOORS | Architectural ornament and decoration | Copying a front door decorated with wood carving

Custom made front doors
 “Copying a front door decorated with wood carving”

It happens quite often that a carpenter or joiner relies on my craftsmanship, i.e. my expertise as a wood carver, and my knowledge of ornaments and decorations. Many of them take on a commission, but often they do not know how to include and execute ornaments and decorations in wood. At times like these a collaboration between the carpenter/joiner and wood carver is inevitable. It goes without saying that the final result can only benefit from such a partnership.

As subcontractors we have been making ornaments and decorations for in and outdoor joinery for well over 25 years now. A local carpenter was troubled with the following situation: he was asked to copy a classical double front door. This late 19th century door was ravished by the sands of time. Chronic exposure to moisture had caused irreparable damage, and besides, the door no longer met the standards set by the client and the requirements of contemporary outdoor woodwork.

However, the customer had a keen eye for detail and historic value and therefore wanted the carpenter to produce an exact replica of the existing front door. The idea was that after renovation the façade truly had to be an eye catcher in the historic city of Tongeren (Belgium).

The city of Tongeren is located in the south of the Belgian province of Limburg, not far from Liège, the French speaking part of Belgium. Starting from 15 BC Tongeren quickly developed as a Gallo-Roman settlement. It is the oldest city of Belgium. The Gallo-Roman museum and the gothic 14th century basilica are just a few of the touristic highlights. Furthermore, the “Kroningsfeesten” or Coronation festivities are organized every 7 years and every Sunday it is possible to visit the largest antique and second hand market in the Benelux. ( =Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg)

The original front door with carving, Tongeren(B)


Some detailed images of the ornaments

African Padauk

The door was manufactured in African Padauk; also known as African Coralwood. This type of wood is categorized as durability class I. An extremely durable, valuable and stable type of wood originating from central and tropical west Africa. Beautiful coral red to purple brown heartwood that is suitable for high-end applications such as outdoor joinery.

African Padauk heartwood has a coral red color, hence the name African Coralwood. It is also used as a dye in the textile industry. I experienced this first hand.

"Padauk ' used as a dye in the textile industry," experienced firsthand.

The wood pulverizes easily and stains skin and clothes, which causes slight skin and airway irritability. When unfinished direct light results in rapid discoloration of the wood from red to brown.

The color of the heartwoods differs depending on the geographical location. Under optimal growth conditions the color is coral red with black stripes (Gabon) or uniformly red in Cameroon. Near the edge of the growth area (Congo, Congo-Brazaville) the heartwood contains ugly white spots. This, however, does not alter the durability or mechanical properties of the timber.

The wood grain is relatively fine with an even structure, but, as is the case with all types of tropical wood I worked with, African Padauk wood has an interlocked grain. This type of grain makes it difficult to apply wood carving to larger panels, compared to types of wood with a straight grain. But for this particular door there were only a few decorative elements (several frames with wood carving). Therefore the presence of an interlocked grain did not constitute a major problem.

The front door with carving and prime color


 Translation Koen Verhees

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The ODINK Family, Netherlands | Family Coat of Arms carved in wood | Heraldic WOOD CARVING

Patrick Damiaens
Heraldic Wood Carver

ODINK Family, The Netherlands 
A Heraldic Family Coat of Arms 
carved in wood

Patrick Damiaens, Heraldic Wood Carver

Family coat of arms carved in wood
One of my specialties is the carving of Heraldic family coat of arms and Crests in wood. To carve a family coat of arms in wood is a bit of a personal challenge for me. Heraldry is a most interesting subject and I always look forward to taking on new assignments involving heraldic Coat of Arms.

You learn about interesting people that captivate the imagination, all of whom have their own fascinating life story or family history. And for me personally it’s always nice to hear that my craftsmanship and quality are greatly appreciated.

Every heraldic coat of arms is different. Most of the time, it starts with an example that serves as a source of inspiration in the form of a drawing, an old sketch or some photographic material delivered to me by the client.
In some cases it occurs that the design for the family coat of arms is not entirely suited as the blueprint for the carving of it in wood.

This might be due to the fact that the design is in a format which is a lot smaller than what the client had in mind (e.g. a large heraldic panel), in which case the family coat of arms has to be redesigned. If one were to simply enlarge the small design, the proportions or the composition of the design would be distorted. 

Usually things have to be added to the composition in order to make better use of the available space. It might also be that there is no logic to how the mantling was arranged, and it’s entirely possible that the design was never meant to be carried out in wood. After all, wood has its limitations.

It is equally important that the relief fits the dimensions of the coat of arms.
We always try to resolve these small and sometimes larger issues together with the client.


Odink Family
Much has been written and published about various families named Odink. This pertains mainly to older families both under the name Odink and Odinck. Characteristic of the fact that the name is written in different ways is a charter from the 17th century, in which an ancestor is and in which his surname was written in several different ways.

The original seal is a house mark in the shape of the letter V/Roman numeral 5 crossing another V/Roman numeral 5 adorned with garlands on top and on both sides. Instead of a helmet, a crown is used on top. 

Paper heraldry
The seal stems from a period that’s also known as “paper heraldry”. In the 17th and 18th century paper heraldry ushered in a “decadent” period, where they would use contrived and twisted baroque and rococo cartouches in shield shapes. Artists lost track of the proportions between shield, crown, helmet and shield bearer and on the shield, they would depict so many figures that the main characteristic of heraldry, recognition, was lost.

House mark
A house mark is described by certain writers as a hereditary family crest for people who weren’t of noble birth. The ressemblance in shape to the old Germanic runes is striking, yet there is no historical connection between the two; styllistically house marks are also related to cuneiform script, but the ressemblance in both cases rest solely on the necessity to use shapes that were easily carved or applied.
It is often assumed that people who used house marks were illiterate. But when we take a closer look at Derk Odink (I) and the time that he and his descendants lived in as well as the circumstances they were in, and when we take into account the fact that they all used a seal to stamp their charters, we can safely assume that they were in fact not illiterate.
It is believed that the house mark had been around much longer, but there’s no way to be certain of this.

After one of the descendants of the Odink family found the charter, signed by Derk Odink (III) on 12 February 1793, the crest was registered according to the heraldry guidelines on 17 February 2012.



Carving a Heraldic Coat of Arms in lime wood.
Different steps.

The heraldic drawing, is placed on to the wood

Heraldic wood carving

Modelling of the Mantling

Carving the heraldic helmet

Carving the Heraldic Family shield

The ODINK Family Coat of Arms carved in wood, Netherlands

The carved heraldic helmet

Family Crest carved in Limewood


Sunday, 2 February 2014

A visit to L’École Boulle in Paris | Wood carving and sculpture department | A Course Ornamental Wood Carving | Journée Portes Ouvertes

Wood Carving department, école Boulle Paris

A visit to L’École Boulle in Paris

A traditional annual highlight on the first weekend of February is the open house day of the L’École Boulle in Paris. 
It is not like I go there every year, but since it had been a few years since my last visit I felt a strong urge to travel to Paris once again. Together with a couple of my students and a few other interested people we headed off to Paris. The annual open house day of L’École Boulle truly remains a special day to me.

Some of my students Woodcarving

The THALYS in Paris

We travelled with the Thalys high speed train from Brussels to the French capital; a journey of approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, peak speed is 300 km/h (186 mph). Arriving at the train station of Paris North we took the subway in the direction of Faubourg Saint-Antoine. This district is located between Place de la Bastille and Place de la Nation.
From Faubourg Saint-Antoine it was only a short walk to our destination. On the way we passed by what is probably the most impressive tools shop in France, namely “Outillage Gaignard Millon”.

Gaignard Millon in Paris, impressive tool shop

Website: http://www.gaignard-millon.com

Faubourg Saint-Antoine

Since the 17th century this Parisian district has been the beating heart of the furniture industry. Every now and then you can discover small charming workshops of real craftsmen such as wood carvers, gilders and renovators. It is truly an exceptional neighborhood, an “authentic” part of Paris so to speak. Strangely enough this district is almost completely unknown to the common tourist.

The district’s name was derived from the Cistercian nunnery Saint-Antoine-des-Champs, which was founded in 1198 by Foulques, a priest of Neuilly-sur-Marne, and strong advocate of the fourth crusade. The convent quickly rose to prominence and became one of the wealthiest nunneries in the whole of France. The “dames du Faubourg” or “the ladies of Faubourg”, as they were known, were usually coming from rich, privileged families. 
The nunnery used to be located on the grounds of the current hospital Saint-Antoine. In the 15th century the convent was given a special privilege. King Louis XI decided that the craftsmen working within the convent walls did not belong to any traditional guild. 

Faubourg Saint Antoine
Consequently, this privilege led to fast growth and considerable prosperity of this Parisian neighborhood. Without any strict regulations and often stubborn attitude of the guilds, the craftsmen were free to come up with their own ideas, thereby disregarding the traditional, standard designs in oak. The craftsmen at Saint-Antoine-des-Champs experimented vigorously with marquetry and all kinds of precious woods.

Despite increased mechanization during the last couple of centuries, there are still quite a few traditional workshops to be found.

L’École Boulle

L’École Boulle was founded in 1886 and is located on the Rue Reuilly. The establishment of this school was meant to satisfy the ever increasing demand in highly trained and skilled carpenters, furniture makers, wood carvers, marquetry craftsmen and bronze sculpture founders. 
In 1891 they decided to move the school to Rue Pierre Bourdan, and to this day L’École Boulle remains an internationally renowned, mythical place where tradition meets innovation. Also in 1891 the institute was given its current name L’École Boulle, in honor of the most famous furniture maker of the Louis XIV era, André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732).

Website L'école Boulle
L'école Boulle, Paris

The department of wood carving

Naturally the wood carving and sculpture departments received most of our attention but the other departments of this school are quite exceptional too, and therefore definitely deserve a visit.

Chair makers, marquetry artists, medal engravers, goldsmiths, the art of silver plating. This is only a short list of some of the métiers one can admire here; a true feast for the eye. 

A visit to L’École Boulle in Paris

It is also fascinating to see how at L’École Boulle old techniques and knowledge are applied to contemporary objects. Innovation is therefore an important spearhead in the school’s policy. By doing so, traditional knowledge is passed on to another generation which can decide whether or not to apply these skills to create modern or traditional objects. 
This institute has, without any doubt, retained its traditional identity and is still an important “hatchery” for traditional, artisanal craftsmanship. Initially, this approach was also followed at the Don Bosco institute in Liège (Belgium). However, due to budget cuts and bad policy making many of the traditional crafts programs at Don Bosco were cancelled in favor of courses with little or no content or artistic merit, completely in line with the declining Belgian industry and government.

A brief summary of some departments

Wood carving Department

Wood carving and sculpture department

 A Course Ornamental Wood Carving

Wood carving and sculpture department, l'école Boulle, Paris



 The department Marquetry

 The department 'chairs'


Department Furniture Restoration

Wood carving and sculpture department, l'école Boulle Paris