We know the olive trees especially for their precious fruits, the tasty olives, and for the oil production. We also recognize their symbolic value, but what about their particular wood, widely used in craftsmanship?
The olive trees wood characteristics
The olive trees wood colour is light brown with very dark striations. It has an irregular grain, and it is very robust, resistant, and long-living. For these last typical features, it is perfect for cabinet making, in particular for inlay and carving.
Where craftsmanship with olive trees wood develops
The olive trees wood for craftsmanship is mainly obtained from pruning (for small objects) or old trees at the end of their natural fruiting life cycle.
Although olive trees cultivations are widespread throughout Italy, some regions have a higher concentration. We are talking about Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria, and Apulia.
In Umbria, the olive trees wood processing began in the countryside, for the manufacturing of tools, and then continued with the carving, as we can see from the wooden decorations in churches and palaces during the Renaissance and the Baroque.
From the very beginning, therefore, there is an ambivalence in woodworking which has consequently led to a differentiation of crafts specialisations: some masters focused on artistic production, others on furniture.
The types of craftsmanship with olive trees wood
There are three main olive trees wood processing categories:
- Artistic craftsmanship
- Small tools and accessories
From the beginning, woodworking soon joined artistic craftsmanship. In Tuscany, since the Middle Ages, the first artisan workshops began a long tradition of carving and carpentry: the carpenters made both useful objects for everyday life, as well as elaborate and aesthetically pleasant objects. The current artists are continuing on this last way.
In particular, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the production of furniture and furnishing objects made of olive trees wood increased, so the processing technique became more and more refined.
In recent times, the advent of large-scale retailers of furniture and furnishing accessories at low prices has limited the craftsmanship of wood, but there still are those who continue to go to the artisan shops. Obviously, in this case, the materials are of higher quality and the carpenters of greater professionalism.
In the field of wood crafts, there is the repair of antique furniture too.
Today, a lot of artisans continue making small objects, accessories, and jewels, for example, key rings, pen holders, necklaces and rings. Even the kitchen tools are popular: chopping boards, bowls, salad cutlery, trivets, egg cups, sushi chopsticks… the list is very long.
Città di Castello and Gubbio boast restoration workshops and antique shops, Todi enumerates carvers, cabinet makers, sculptors, restorers, artisans, furniture makers, and antique shops, while Assisi and Perugia are also famous for their restorers and anti