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Around Our Town...Ask the Decorator

European Black Forest Furniture

04/01/2006 - Few pieces of furniture available today contain as much craftsmanship and fine carvings as the furniture commonly known as "Black Forest". Black Forest furnishings which come in a wide range of styles, were made primarily from the trunks of linden and occasionally walnut trees. A family of woodcarvers, the Trauffer's, begin popularizing the Black Forest style through their handicrafts, furniture making, and their instruction in carving at a school in Breinz, Switzerland. The Trauffers' carvings included such incarnations as clocks, settes, desks, hall trees, chairs, tables and beds adorned with realistic carvings of bears, deer, rabbits, goats, tree branches and edelweiss flowers. The Trauffers' pieces ranged from the mid 1800's to the early 1900's.

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As this style became more popular, other carvers and craftsman from this region began to design and build this style of furniture. Most of which were built for the very affluent of Europe. Hunt Cabinets from old hunt lodges in Europe, are adorned with carvings of the animals found on the land. Craftsman were paid by the piece and not by the hour. As the story goes, in the deep winters of the Black Forest of Germany, the men gathered around to carve and drink beer. Each had his own specialty, so any particular carving and piece was created by a group effort. A lot of pieces carved in Belgium and Germany were made of oak, and most of these pieces never bore the signature of the carver(s).

European antiques are being sought after and are adorning more and more of our American homes. The Black Forest items not only add a work of art, but a whimsical touch with the hall tree bear carvings.

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The higher ceilings and large rooms of our newer homes lend themselves to larger more intricately designed furniture. Since the Black Forest and European style antiques are upward to 8 feet tall and heavier in design, they compliment the overall look and design of our homes.

The display case pictured is made of oak, and was carved in Germany in the early 1800's. The Barley Twist design depicts the craftsmanship and quality of the pieces from that era. This piece can be viewed at Woody G's Gallery.

Please feel free to email me at woodyg@coffey.com, with ANY decorating questions you have.

Article written by Lara Taylor, Woody G's Gallery

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