This is the seventh post in a series on my slow travels through Tuscany where I had the amazing opportunity to travel with Chianti locals Km Zero Tours. In this article I experienced the art of wood carving in Tuscany from the heart. For more articles on slow travel in Tuscany see the links at the end of this post.
Arianna introduced Giorgio as a modern day Geppetto, the woodcarver and creator of the later famous Disney character of Pinocchio, based on the book by Carlo Collodi. Imagining that Giorgio would live in a simple wood carving hut making puppets and other simple furniture pieces, I was surprised to find a young artist with magic al hands living in a traditional Tuscan farmhouse with the workshop downstairs from the living space.
Giorgio Romani Woodturning
Giorgio started his own woodturning studio in Chianti in 2011 after successfully working in furniture workshops. His artistic hobby had been in the making for several years before that, when he started buying pieces of olive wood and converting them into real works of art, but it was not until 2011 that he decided to devote himself fully to his passion.
Woodturning is not an easy job. Giorgio first sources the right piece of wood, which need to be left to dry before he can work on them in a process that is called “seasoning”. And he will never know if a piece will turn out fine until the time has passed. Sometimes, the wood pieces crack, and so he has to start from scratch. Most of his pieces are made of olive wood, but he also uses other wood types. Giorgio’s work is very different from other artists which can predict how their work will evolve, in his line of work, some of the creations may crack after he has made them and he has no way of knowing beforehand if that may happen.
The age of the tree gives the wood its colour, the darker the older. All of his pieces are washed in sunflower seed oil to finish them off and make them shine. His pieces show the tree’s life and history as he leaves the bark on some of the bowls. If you count the lines on the wood you can find out the age of the raw tree. He works the colours and lines of the wood into the design. Some of the bowls and trays have be turned around the tree’s colours. Some pieces are vertical, some are longitudinal, some are horizontal cuts. Giorgio believes that the tree trunk will tell him what the best shape is for it to be carved on. When he takes a piece of wood, he hears it talk to him about what it want to become. Have a look at the board he made from a tree trunk’s knot or the blurb at the end of this post, which he woke up to when he received a piece of Turkish oak that had finished being seasoned.
Getting your own hand carved wood art
Giorgio’s pieces are sold in his workshop, where you can browse through the nice bowls and wood cutting boards he has made. He also receives online orders from customers from all over the world. He creates tailored-made pieces, like an incredible altar he has recently built for a local church. Giorgio does not cut trees for wood, he gets the wood from trees that are fallen or that have been approved for sale.
Making a pretty honey drip
As an artist, Giorgio got down to show us his skill in a live demonstration. He cut a piece of wood into rectangular pieces which he then transformed into beautiful honey drips in under five minutes. He made it look so easy, but it was not. Once the piece was turned, he quickly smoothened it out. To finish it off, we would have to cover it in sunflower seed oil to protect it and make sure it lasts longer. If you wash the piece a lot and the oil is slowly washed off, you can always just dip it in it again.
Photos of Giorgio’s art pieces courtesy of his facebook page where he photographs and shares his beautiful art with the world.