Behind the Scenes: Ecclesiastical Woodcarving at Mussner G. Vincenzo

Many of our readers are not only interested in finalized works of liturgical art, they are also interested in the process and craftsmanship that goes into their creation. Some of this is mere curiosity of course -- a perfectly laudable motive in this instance -- and for others it is out of a desire to learn the tools of the trade, particularly where they might be budding liturgical artists themselves. To that end, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to occasionally do a "behind the scenes" post where our focus is either on showing a work in progress from conception to completion, or to simply give some behind the scenes looks that show some of our liturgical artists and studios in action.

What spawned this idea in part was that I was recently browsing through some of the work of Mussner G. Vincenzo Ars Sacra and I saw some photos there which really show this sort of progression in action. The carving in question is straightforward enough, a hand shown in blessing, but what you will see is how it moves from the most rudimentary of forms into something extraordinarily refined:

Quite something to see and certainly this puts to mind the thought of Michelangelo who is said to have famously commented that the sculptors task is merely to remove the superfluous bits of material and reveal the sculpture that lay inside. Seeing this example above and how it brings wood to life, one can well see what Michelangelo was getting at.

Here are some other looks as the studio in action, some contemporary and some historical:

Applying gold leaf decoration to a nearly completed statue
Their workshop in 1971

The date is unknown to me, but it looks to be in the earlier 20th century
Their workshop, present day

Of course, it can be so terribly easy to forget that it all starts here in the humblest of beginnings for the woodcarver:

Some tools of their trade
For more information, visit their website and social media page.

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