Ask David Calvo if he thinks woodcarving is a dying art and he’ll cut through the suggestion like a bandsaw through birch. By Andrew Conway- photograph by Joel Laino
“I’ve taught students from every state, as well as Canada and Mexico,” he says, referring to his ever-growing network of passionate craftsmen and women who come to his renowned woodcarving and sculpture studio and school in Gloucester to learn the ancient art for themselves.
“People think it’s a classical genre, and part of my job is to help them understand that woodcarving is a unique and dynamic skill that can have a very contemporary feel to it,” Calvo says. “When people take it out of the Queen Anne era and introduce it into the modern world, that’s where the imagination and skill of carving really shine.”
After training and working with some of the finest European woodcraftsmen, as well as teaching for 20 years, Calvo is supremely qualified to create unique custom designs and hand down his expertise.
Calvo’s classes, workshops, and seminars operate year round and vary in size from seven to 12 students. “I basically address everyone as a beginner, even if they’ve carved for a while,” he says, “because there are a lot of fundamentals that may have been self-taught and need to be relearned.” While most of Calvo’s students are amateurs, all hope to carve a niche for themselves in an array of personal projects, from home DIY jobs to creative woodcarving designs. Some even work on sharpening their skills to a professional level.
Regardless of people’s motivations, Calvo says woodcarving has a place in the modern world. “Arts and Crafts homebuilding is coming back into vogue, and people want to learn how to do things in their own home,” he says. “Carving is a hand skill where the human touch can personalize and add warmth to any environment.” davidcalvo.com
Wall Tale Updated designs and techniques give wallpaper new life.
Another home decor component—wallpaper—is being given a contemporary new twist by Wenham-based Zoe Design, which has specialized in murals, faux finishes, floors, stencils, Italian plasters, glazes, metal leaf, and panels for more than 30 years.
Co-owner Doug Garrabrants has struck on the ingenious idea of photographing sections of his artist wife Lena Fransioli’s exquisite hand-painted designs in ultra-high resolution, then repeating the digital image on a computer to create one-of-a-kind wallpaper.
Garrabrants is also experimenting with nature as inspiration for other unique wallpaper designs. “The detail in the digitized images is so good, you can’t tell it from the original,” he says. “Every bump and brushstroke is reproduced in minute detail. A homeowner or interior designer can come to us with a bit of shagreen or birchbark and I can make a wallpaper design of it.” zoe-design.com