TRADITIONAL ALPINE FURNITURE
Picture: April 2000
Picture: January 2018. The wood turned red over the year.
or a long time
Alpine furniture had not been considered as pieces of Art. Two reasons may be thought of.
The first reason is that the past centuries were
tough time for the Alps inhabitants: winters were tough and harvests were poor,
so that the only pieces of furniture that were built, were built for their own homes.
However, this explanation does not completely hold, as many of these inhabitants
turned to be merchants during snow-covered wintertime, during which no land work could
be carried out. The difficulties to carry such heavy loads as pieces of furniture on
mountain paths might also be claimed.
The second reason is that until the beginning of
the century Alpine inhabitants were not always considered as highly civilized, from the point
of view of big cities inhabitants. Therefore, the least awaited characteristic of Alps was to
be able to produce any piece of art.
The situation has slowly evolved since mid 20th century,
so that Alpine woodcraft is nowadays fully acknowledged and largely appreciated.
lthough many artistic trends
are found throughout the Alps, many features are common to the majority of
them. These features arise from specific aspects of the Alpine life. Some of them are listed
- WOOD SPECIES: they were extracted
from high altitude local forests, mainly containing coniferous trees about 3000 feet:
larchtrees, piceas, and various species of pines.
- THE CARVING: When not trading in other
lands, people had plenty of unused time during winter periods, because of the snow-covered
land. As a result, they carved their furniture. The arrangement of carved decorations
on many pieces of furniture show that carvings were often added one at a time,
when 'leisure' was possible. The carvings, mainly of geometric aspect,
are best revealed by grazing light, as was
the light of candles and of the rare openings in thick walls at that time.
- THE DESIGN: In most cases, the design
is rather crude, resulting from the fact that furniture was generally home-built,
as money was not available to buy them.
he pictures on this page are those from a piece of furniture
that I made during the Spring of 2000. It is not a copy from an existing item, although
the design and decoration are characteristic of traditional Alpine furniture. Its purpose
also follows the Alpine tradition, as it was built as a Wedding furniture.
The wood is larchtree,
a species thriving mainly in southern Alps. This species yields a redish wood, a feature of
whose is to be imputrescible. It had been often chosen
for water-related uses, like roof covering or water-poles (e.g.
in Venice). However,
this larchtree wood is not easy to carve (fibrous wood) so that several wood species
are usually used for the same furniture: a hard and imputrescible wood like larchtree
for beams, and a softer wood like pine for carved panels.
furniture was entirely hand-made, and the various pieces of
wood were finally put together without the use of screws, nails or any metallic part.
It was finally oiled, so as to enhance the natural wood veins. The dimensions are
approximately 1m long, 70cm high and 50cm large.