Master Wood Carver Alexander Grabovetskiy was once awarded the “International Woodcarver of the Year” award by the Woodworker’s Institute. He is now living the dream life of a professional wood carver as he hand carves elaborate furniture and architectural elements for luxury homes and historical buildings around the world. His work is highly sought after because of its life-like appearance.
But things were not always so favorable for this award-winning wood carver. In 1973 Alexander was born into a family of craftsmen & artists in the small Soviet town of Dimitrovgrad. His great grandfather, an expert wood Carver, trained Alexander in ornamental wood carving from the age of six years old.
By the time Alexander was 16, his work was so advanced that he was taken on as an apprentice under famous wood carver Vladimir Tokarev. Over the years Vladimir taught him the techniques that would culminate in Alexander’s award-winning carving masterpieces later in his life.
Then his life took a sharp turn when he was arrested by the Soviet government for adherence to his religious conviction, and for his refusal to join the Red Army. Alexander was finally released from prison at the age of 21, at which time he continued to run his successful architectural and ornamental wood carving business that he had started while in prison.
In 1996, Alexander, his wife Nadia, and their 10-month old son emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States, as a political refugee. Now Alexander runs his thriving wood carving business in South Florida, where he lives with Nadia and their three children – Mark, Jessica, and Alexis.
Alexander often carves day and night, and he works with a number of styles including sculpture, high relief, low relief, architectural and ornamental modes. He is often hired to create intricate classical interior spaces using his trademark hand carved furniture and rococo carvings. Much of Alexander’s inspiration comes from Grinling Gibbons, a 16th century English wood carver who had the uncanny ability to make wood appear like real life objects.
Alexander makes use of an extreme undercutting technique that creates a unique play between light and shadow, which he feels is the most important aspect of any carving design.
As he carves his life-like masterpieces, Alexander only uses hand tools, and he never sands his pieces, believing that the tool marks make each piece distinctive. “It is the same as brush marks on canvas in fine art,” he says.
Alexander's class is designed to be an introduction to basic carving skills and is perfect for any furniture maker who wants to take his or her carving skills to the next level. Alexander will introduce the student to the design process and ways to embellish their furniture as well as give it character.
He will start by sharing his sharpening techniques which he calls “sharpening on steroids.” This is a production style of sharpening that is fast and precise. Demonstrations will also include how to properly use carving gouges. This class will also cover tool selection, how to work with wood grain issues, planning the cut, safe carving techniques, how to clamp the wood without damaging the carving, and subtle tips and tricks in getting the best use out of your gouges.
Students will start carving a basic relief of a floral decoration, then move on to a more advanced relief carving of a classical acanthus leaf design, and finally to carving a classic shell design in relief.
Alexander will explain how to think through a carving project in order to make the carving process the most efficient. He will also demonstrate how to carve the linen-fold design, how to carve grapes or beads, and how to carve lettering. Key Points:
How to properly hold gouges for safety & efficiency
How to lower down background for relief carving
How to work with wood grain issues
How to carve a basic floral decoration
How to carve a more advanced classical acanthus leaf decoration
How to carve a classical scallop shell carving
Tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your gouges
Demonstrations on linen-fold design, grapes, and letter carving
Read Alexander's bio page here. A $25 materials fee must be paid to the intstructor before class. Required tools for this class are yet to be determined. See our "General Class Info page" to learn more about class day.