Tradition of wood carving and furniture craftsmanship alive in Aegean islands
The tradition of woodcarving in Agiasos Lesvos island has started by the craftsmen who built the wood-carved icon handler of the church of the Virgin Mary in 1812. They were Greeks of ‘Minor Asia’ (currently coastal Turkish coast) and their assistants were the brilliant ones who inherited their art.
Chestmen were called because of the brilliant chests furniture they could make. Most houses in Agiasos still possess very old furniture (mainly chests) decorated with wood-carved designs.
Particularly developed is the traditional art of woodworking in olive and walnut wood.
Influences from Byzantine art and the Asia Minor Hellenism are stated on the craftsmanship, in a distinctive style of the time, with particular appeal to the island and its commercial connections. The sacred sculptured icons, as well as the hand-carved hand-made carvings, are known, with a special taste of experienced craftsmen.
The tradition of woodcarving is almost lost. During the interwar years, the last craftsmen are lost as impoverished country reduced demand for such quality furniture.
From 1949 onwards, Dimitris Kamaros, whose grandfather was woodcutter, set up a small workshop and deals with the manufacture of furniture, parts of which incorporate traditional wood carvings, while creating his own distinctive style. His reputation exceeds the boundaries of the island and his furniture travels all over Greece and abroad, making almost the world round. Close to him, most of today’s young wood artisans, each of them developed his own personality and style.
All wood carvings (chests, desks, tables, chairs, bedrooms, shrines, screens, mirrors, icons etc.) are handmade, well made technically for buyers or collectors who visit Agiasos just to order carved handmade furniture.
Skyros is another Aegean island reputable for its furniture craftsmanship.
Skyrian furniture is well-known for the unique hand-crafted technique used in its design. There are therefore a limited number of pieces made every year. Woodcarving, just like any craft, demands concentration and perseverance in addition to talent. When learning a craft to become a professional, it becomes even more demanding.
Thesiswood is operated by artisan Lefteris Avgoklouris. Born and raised in Skyros, he was initiated into the art of woodworking by one of the old leading woodcarvers on the island, Giannis Babousis. He wandered the seas as a sailor before landing back in his country, determined to pursue his childhood craft and develop his art under the guidance of Evangelos Mosxos, a professor in the Athens School of Fine Arts. After maturing as a craftsman under the shadow of the Athenian Acropolis, he found his way back to his island to continue working on what his hands and heart truly cherished.
In addition to craftsmanship, ThesisWood organizes classes that in woodcrafting at the workshop. During the seminar, history of traditional wood crafting on Skyros is taught, different types of woods used, qualities, various tools utilized to craft, the different ways to prepare the wood, and drafting designs and finally the execution of the piece.
Finally, a beautiful book to read on the Greek chest (kasela, as we used to call it) from Kapon Editions: https://kaponeditions.gr/en/product/the-greek-chest/
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