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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.
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Monday, 10 November 2014

CARVING A ROSETTE IN WOOD | Louis XVI-style rosette ornament | Decoration and Wood Carved Appliques | Hand Carved Wood Rosettes

 Patrick Damiaens
Ornamental Woodcarver


Rosette, Ornament

A rosette is a practical ornament, for which the possibilities for application are nearly endless. This ornament can already be found in the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, where it is mainly used as an architectural decoration.
In the Netherlands, the term rosette is commonly used, but in Flanders, people also tend to refer to the rosette as “Rosace”, a word originating from France. 
In the Gothic style period, this ornament can be found, for instance, as the keystone of ribbed vaults. The rosette can be found throughout almost every style period in history, each time embodying the specific features and characteristics of these periods. But the period between 1750 and 1850 marks an era in which this ornament became even more popular, resulting in a wider use and a more imaginative variety of combinations and applications. It became a distinguishing feature for the Louis XVI style.
Rosettes come in all shapes and sizes. Most common is a round-shaped rosette, but square, rectangular or even diamond-shaped rosettes aren’t that uncommon either.

Several rosettes, Don Bosco Liège

As I mentioned before, this ornament was widely used during the Classicistic period (1750-1850). Classicism is a reaction to Baroque and Rococo and combines elements of Greek and Roman art or elements from the classical antiquity in general. The rosette is a separately placed flower-shaped ornament, with flower petals, acanthus leaves, oak leaves or even laurel leaves stretching outward from a central point. 

There are more sophisticated rosette designs, which consist of a combination of several motifs (e.g. a combination of acanthus leaves and laurel leaves) and then there’s the twisted rosette design, which consists of various types of leaf motifs as well.

 Rosette ,this ornament is typical Louis XVI style, Versailles
From the 17th century onward we notice that rosettes are often used as a decorative ornament on tables and chairs. They can particularly be found on twisted wooden designs or on baluster-shaped legs and form the central part of the H- or X-shaped joints between the legs of tables or chairs. (See picture) 
By the end of the 18th century, during the French classicistic Louis XVI style period, this ornament is widely applied to furniture and other interior elements. It is used so often that it becomes a characteristic feature of this period. 

Below you will find a short impression of the carving of this ornament. The design for this rosette was provided by the client, which is quite common practice. The design is inspired by an existing piece of furniture, which was carved in walnut.

CARVING A ROSETTE,various stages

Rosette in wood | First a design is created

Rosette in wood | The design will be redrawn on tracing paper and transferred to the wood

Modeling can begin

Rosette | With a pencil, the correct contour and details are applied back on to the wood

Rosette in wood | Finishing, the application of the detail

A Rosette in wood | Hand Carved Wood Rosettes

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Rolandus-Hagedoorn Family COAT OF ARMS carved in limewood | Netherlands | A Coat of Arms-Crest carved in wood, painted and gilded

Rolandus-Hagedoorn Family COAT OF ARMS carved in limewood

Carving Heraldic family coats of arms in wood

As a woodcarver, one of my specialties is the carving of Heraldic family coats 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.

Rolandus Hagedoorn family CoA from the Netherlands

The Rolandus-Hagedoorn family coat of arms

Barred helmets: of Dutch origin – in three-quarter view - the use of two helmets reflects the influence of German nobility.

The wreath: in the colours of the mantling – has the same function as the crown, namely keeping the mantling in place.

The crown: golden headgear, decorated with gemstones – three leafs and two pearls are set on the tips of the crown – the sign of a count.

The helmetsign-crest: on the right: Hagedoorn (Hawthorn) – on the left: Rolandus 

Mantling: on the right: silver and vert (green) – on the left: silver and gules

Shield: the design originates from the 15th-16th century. A triple crown tree (hawthorn) in its natural colour against a silver background and a knight in suit of armour (Rolandus) against a gules background and a silver snake against an azure (blue) background.

The Rolandus-Hagedoorn family lives in the Netherlands and the family history dates all the way back to 900 AD. The dimensions of the coat of arms are 90 x 85 cm. It is carved in limewood and is emblazoned in its proper tinctures.

Patrick Damiaens, Heraldic Woodcarver
Carving a coat of arms in limewood, various stages.

Drawing the design of the coat of arms on to the wood

Sawing the mantling in wood

Carving a heraldic coat of arms of wood

Modelling the mantling, limewood

Carving the helmet and crest in limewood

Helmet and Crest (limewood)

The shield of the coat of arms, limewood

The shield, carved in limewood

The coat of arms in limewood ,finished

Applying the heraldic colors

Family Crest - coat of arms carved in limewood

Family crest Rolandus Hagedoorn, limewood

Family coat of arms carved in wood


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Don Bosco Liège Belgium | The disappearance of intangible cultural heritage | DISCONTINUATION of the artisan program ornamental wood carving

The dismantlement of the program ornamental wood carving at the Don Bosco Institute in Liège, Belgium.


Another piece of Belgian intangible heritage lost!

The wood carving and ornamentation program at the Don Bosco Institute is truly unique in our country, and has been around for 116 years! I was fortunate enough to attend this fine institute from 1986 till 1989. Due to the high number of enrolments, at the time, an entry exam was required; and only a total of 12 students were admitted to join the program. 

The department wood carving and ornamentation at the Don Bosco Institute was on top of its game: ”There are only a few schools of this standing found in Europe”. The groundwork of this department, founded in 1896, was of course the decoration and embellishment of furniture and interiors. For many candidates the Liège Style ornamentation was a style period with a future. It guaranteed job security for many generations of students.

But times they are a-changin’. Over the last 15 years the demand for Liège Style ornaments declined rapidly, which meant that the master craftsmen working at Don Bosco had to adapt to an ever changing situation. 

The demand for other types of wood carving increased. These included predominantly restorations of churches and other monuments, where decorative elements needed to be repaired or replaced. Furthermore, these commissions were not restricted to Liège Style ornaments. They could also include Baroque, Gothic or other style periods.

Wood carving workshop Don Bosco in 1927, Liège Belgium

Modeling of clay, Don Bosco Liège, 1951-1952

Closing down the department

Early September 2011 the management of the Don Bosco institute decided to close down the “Section Sculpture”, i.e. the section wood carving. This decision was grounded on the fact that there were only 9 enrollments for the program that year. However, other departments at the institute were experiencing similar problems, but the program wood carving and ornamentation was the only one that got cancelled. Why? This decision was never officially justified.

How is it possible that such a renowned department was no longer capable of attracting sufficient students? The topic was also discussed with the chief inspector of the educational department of wood science in Brussels. He couldn’t understand the school management’s decision either, and stated that his department had given a positive evaluation to the wood carving program in Liège, as was the case every year. 
The chief inspector deeply regretted the situation, but said his department was not too blame.
How can this loss then be explained?

Ornamental Drawing
Wood carving Workshop in 2010

Bad policy ?

The annual exhibition and open day organized by Don Bosco was one of the only moments during the year all departments benefitted from a joint effort to show off their skills; reaching a wide, more diverse audience. It was the ideal time and place to promote yourself and your “métier”, i.e. craftsmanship; also with the purpose of inspiring a new generation of students. Every year many people, both domestic and international, were eagerly looking forward to the first weekend of June, when the open day would traditionally take place. 

Indeed, this exhibition was also very popular abroad! This is not an exaggeration. I remember very well that during some editions people had to push and shove to get in. It was incredible what this school had to offer, and with what kind of passion the professors, or “professeurs des ateliers”, radiated this. They knew all too well how important that day was for their respective department.

In 2006 the new management decided that the annual open day, and other expositions inside and outside the school, no longer fitted the renewed vision of the institute. Why go through all this trouble? Why put in so much effort every year? The students would keep coming, no matter what. This perception would appear completely misplaced! Year after year the departments saw a steady decline, with fewer enrollments, which ultimately resulted in the termination of the institute’s showpiece, the “Section Sculpture”.

In 2012 yet another management team was troubled with the mistakes of their predecessors and came up with an alternative for the closed down department of wood carving and ornamentation. They proposed the idea to start a program “Kitchen installer”!?  I quote the new management: “We are continuously adapting and adjusting” (KLASSE - nr. 231; monthly magazine for education).
Of course it is appropriate and even necessary to adapt and adjust to an ever changing market, but is the installation business really waiting for this type of “school program”, when IKEA manages to summarize the intricate process of a kitchen installation on one sheet of paper? Well, what do we make of all this?

Ornamental Wood carving course in Liège Belgium


I have been a full time independent wood carver for over 22 years. Therefore, I know all too well how important it is to create a strong, distinct profile of my company globally, which allows people to get acquainted with my passion and craftsmanship. Our modern society expects that all information can be found online. 
The Don Bosco institute should have used the internet, social media networks and so on, to attract new students and to forge a strong global reputation. This is the fame it deserves. The line of trade where freshly graduated wood carvers end up in is without any doubt a global one. 
I am convinced that if Don Bosco would have made optimal use of the press, multimedia, exhibition possibilities and the good name of the department, it would have easily got the 12 mandatory enrollments it needed to survive. It is as the saying goes: “Unknown is unloved, unknown is unprotected”.


Please enjoy some photos of the department wood carving and ornamentation at the Don Bosco institute in better times (2010)


June 2013

Some time ago I was contacted by a person who was in charge of the dismantlement of the department. He asked me if I was interested in the work benches of this prestigious institute. With some of my students I went to Liège and upon arrival we noticed that the “Section Sculpture” was already stripped completely of its 116 year history. For example, all the old plaster and wooden models, dating back from the year of the department’s inception in 1896, were gone.

A unique archive of old photos, slides, books and drawings, which had been meticulously put together over the years by students and professors, disappeared. It is sometimes devastating to see how our heritage is under attack. This is what happens when ignorance gets the upper hand.

One would like to think we learned from our past mistakes, but history repeats itself. With a great deal of sadness future generations will think back to past times and realize how much unique knowledge was lost and wander who was responsible for making such rash, thoughtless decisions.


 Translation, Koen Verhees