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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

CARVED STAIRCASE PARTS | Carved Newel Post | Hand-carved Stair Components

Patrick Damiaens
Ornamental Woodcarver- Architectural Woodcarving

Ornamental carving for a staircase

The Rococo staircase

In the Rococo style the elegantly crafted balusters were the eye-catcher of the staircase. Thanks to the spiral form of the stairs, the slightly curved bottom of the balusters flow smoothly into the stringer. Most of the time the bottom of the main baluster is formed by an open “rocaille”-motive. These motives or carvings, formed in the shape of a shell, went particularly well together with acanthus leaves and flowers.

Cabinetmakers working in the Rococo style originally had a preference for openly sculptured balusters. However, in today’s implementations of the classic Rococo staircase people often choose for sober banisters manufactured with a turning lathe, not only because it is cheaper but it also leaves a less heavy impression.

Nevertheless, the moderation of banisters is not just something that can be found in modern craftsmanship. The banisters in Louis XIV for example are, in contrast with these in the Rococo style, very strictly styled and sober. With its more moderated approach classicism remade the flaunting Rococo staircase to a more sober but still elegant piece of furniture.

But I stick with it, if one wishes an elegant staircase in the Rococo style (and if one has the space for it), open cravings give your staircase a beautiful an unique look. 

Carved staircase parts

In Belgium, the finest examples of craftsmanship in the Rococo style (± 1750) can be found in the ‘Hotel van den Meersche’ in Ghent and in the town hall of Lier.  


The phases for making a carved newel

With Rococo style motifs
 "After the French Manner"

1)      A rough version of the sculpture or carving is drawn on the wood with crayon.

 2)      We put down the proper lines and forms of the ornaments on the baluster with a pencil. 

3)      We saw out the baluster.

4)      With a router we prepair the different levels in the wood

5)      The carving can actually begin.

carved staircase parts, detail

 Plaster models can be helpful when making individual ornaments. 

Rococo ornament surrounded by shell-like "rocailles", leaves and C-scrolls.

Personal project (in the Netherlands)
The baluster sculptured by myself was not made to fit a new but an existing staircase in a house built in around 1930. Several rooms including the hallway where the staircase is located, needed renovation. With this face lift the owners wanted to give their house a unique character. By providing the existing staircase with classic Rococo woodcarving, the room got a more elaborated look.

It is however very difficult to respect existing situations and to meet the wishes of the costumer at the same time. So it is always a challenge to keep the harmony in a room.

Carved Newel post

Every design and every application of carving  is unique and will never be remade in the exact same way.


Translation Liesbeth Neyens

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