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Welcome to the page of Miroslav Mlkvík, the art-woodcarver

Wood Carving

What is a wood carving? It is the art and craft form of working wood where carving and chiseling out is applied to create figures, various wooden portraits or wooden decorations. Truly beautiful creations are made under the hands of skilled woodcarver. The woodcarver is a skilled craftsman who not only precisely handles tools like knives, chisels, planes and mallets or even ,,more drastic“ tools, but he/she also has some great artistic talents. He must know where to use force and where, on the contrary, to proceed with sensitivity.

The wood was once an easily accessible material, used for almost everything, even for the construction of human dwellings and shelters for livestock, and opportunities for the development of woodcarving arts and crafts could not be better. Besides craftsmanship and woodcarving work on the houses the artistic woodcarvers have also found their use. They have carved beautiful decorative and utility goods like toys, washing cradles, barrels, coffins, wheels and so on. Nowadays wood carving successfully lives out thanks to immense skill and artistic feel that master craftsmen pass to young adepts. But even people interested in carving can become capable carvers – self-students who do not lack talent and diligence

The History Of Wood Carving


Yet in the early periods of humanity our ancestors, even though rather wild from our point of view, felt the need to express their feelings artistically. There were not many options, but one has shown to be nifty - carving of beautiful designs with sharp-edged rocks into lumber. Many fascinating woodcuts by ancient creators have been surely created this way, but unfortunately, wood is not the material that can withstand changing climate and risks of time. At least tools of the relevant age fared much better. Only few examples of age-long creations have been preserved; perhaps the most famous is the wooden statue of Sheikh El Beled in Cairo created yet in the period of more than two thousand years before Christ. The Muslim area of North Africa was generally a bastion of contemporary woodcarwers able to create extremely complex carvings.

North Africa was not the only one place for carving, though. Various native African tribes were carving wooden masks and statuettes. Another famous example of ancient carving preserved until today are totemic poles of Indian tribes in North America. In Japan and China there have been woodcarvers who were used for decorating of temples and human dwellings. And in Oceania the local have been creating wooden objects with incised animated designs denoting a particular action. They have also decorated boats they sailed on.

And what about Europe? Here there were mainly nations of Northern Europe who tried their best, for instance the Vikings decorated front parts of their wooden ships with dragon heads. In Scandinavia, working with wood was generally a mater of great tradition. The examples of the fact from the 10 and 11 century have been preserved until today. England is known for fine wood carving works of the gothic period, especially visible in on the choir stairs and near them. Althought Puritans destroyed many of them, enough of them have been preserved for us to admire the great craftsmanship of contemporary craft masters. French woodcarving works were also connected with the religion. Their carved altarpieces are especially notable. In Italy you can find contemporary Gothic woodcuts and works mainly from the renaissance period in Florence, Siena or in monasteries of the southern part of country. In Germany, a lot of artists worked with wood during 15-16th century. Colossal wooden statues and altarpieces are particularly famous. In the Renaissance period nice altar works were discovered in the areas of contenporary Spain and Flanders. After the Renaissance the wood carving went into more significant decline only to be revived in London of the eighteenth century by Grinling Gibbons who decorated building belonging to Sir Christopher Wren. The craft has become popular in colonial America, where the carving was applied to ship figures and other objects.

In the 20 century the interest in wood as a material increased. Many of contemporary sculptors worked with wood. Many figurative and abstract artists were fascinated and attracted by wood as well.

Wood Carving In Slovakia

In Slovakia the carvers were mainly traditional craftsmen producing utility wooden goods, whether they were cooking spoon makers , carpenters, wheelwrights or others. There were people of completely different professions devoted to woodcarving. The age has seen many millers, miners, shepherds and representatives of other businesses absolutely far from working with wood, simply said – the real folk woodcarvers who, however, had dexterous hands and talent and mastered a good many nice works, especially with religious motifs

Until the arrival of socialism woodcarvers have been passing the craft to their descendants or students and the craft or the art as such was developing. At time of the Communist Party government the artists then were extremely restricted in their creation. The authorities often dictated them what and how to create. If they were attempting to do something new, there was risk that someone from above would see it as an innuendo to the situation at that time, so they preferred to get back to legacy of previous generations of woodcarvers. But just after times loosened after the fall of communism the creativity of woodcarvers came back to life and books and tools, they could not have or were forbidden to have, found their way into their hands. In the recent time there is the internet as a great tool where they can find lots of informations, order materials or tools for their work.

The Right Wood

How to select a wood for woodcarving? Good woodcarver can choose the wood he/she needs. He/she knows if there is need for a wood soft enough to get by with a cutting knife or he needs a chisel and a mallet. Woodcarver can leave the woodcarving without any modifications for wood fibers to be seen or use a paint.


For cutting small objects a person can hold in hand, like various characters, animals or decorative woodcarving - for example a wooden box where You keep Your valuables - woodcarvers would love to use linden wood. Linden wood is soft, it is easy to carve into and its fibers hold tight to each other allowing the master to make even small details. But everything has is pros and cons and even linden cannot avert the fact. Since the wood is soft, it is difficult to uniformly apply stain and also to smooth it to be glossy. That is probably why linden wood is usually painted with wood coating paint.

The woodcarver can choose a branch or a log of interesting shape. But he may also have problems with the log that comes from a freshly cut trunk. Why? Because such log will be still pretty moist and there is a risk of ugly cracks and shatters if the master begins his work right away. The best idea is to leave the log dry up on the air for a longer period of time and the problem will be solved :-) Even better but more expensive idea is to buy the wood that was dried up in dry kiln and cut into planks. Then the woodcarver planes them if needed to be smooth and fit to be glued together. You would you say that to glue the wood like this it is not a good idea for any woodcarver but a skillful Mr. Woodcarver can „piece together“ the shape he just needs in contrast to a the log which is just of the default given shape.

If the woodcarving master wants to create a piece of work with natural impression (so he will not use a paint), he uses walnut, cherry or mahagony wood. Such wood is well colour-tuned and its dense fibers create patterns people like. The carving on this kind of wood is somewhat harder than on linden, although it still goes well enough, but in case of such wood a woodcarver will not get by without gouge and mallet.

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