When Belgian woodcarver Patrick Damiaens was a child, his parents took him to the castles and museums of Europe where he encountered and began his love-affair with ornate, hand carved furniture. The intricate centuries old craftwork inspired young Patrick and he took the first steps towards his goal of being able to imitate the old craftsmen of previous generations and to be able to produce unique and breath-taking wood carvings for bespoke furniture in the Liège style that he adores.
Patrick studied ornamental carving for three years at the prestigious Don Bosco Institute in Liège. But first the dedicated student undertook six years of instruction in furniture making at the Sint-Jansberg College in Masseik followed by one year of training in woodcarving.
Now Patrick Damiaens’ Liège style woodcarvings are highly sought after ever since he began working for himself in 1992 and he is the only full-time ornamental wood carver and sculptor in Flanders, Belgium.
A dying craft, Patrick may soon be as unique as the exceptional carvings and sculptures he produces. It is a privilege therefore to have access to the methods and imagery of the outstanding wood carvings of Patrick Damiaens.
INTRODUCTION TO PATRICK’S WORK
When you commission a piece of furniture from Patrick Damiaens, you are guaranteed three things – remarkable work, a unique item in a definitive style and the knowledge that there is no one producing work quite like him.
Although trained in furniture making himself, Patrick has such a dedication to his craft that he works in conjunction with cabinet makers, a furniture restorer and stair maker, in order that he can give his undivided attention to his exquisite wood carving.
Patrick’s work is in the Liège style, where the finest quality wood panels are painstakingly carved in an elaborate and ornate style dating back to the 17th Century.
A Patrick Damiaens original is identifiable by his signature dragonfly, carved into every piece of work.
The first thing to note in Patrick’s process, is that there is no design to pick from the shelf. All of Patrick’s designs are tailored to each client from scratch. As a result each piece takes time and patience and this is reflected in his waiting lists, costs and production times.
Technical drawings are produced with meticulous attention to detail. Dependent on the level of intricacy, these preliminary designs can take up to a month to produce.
An initial pattern is made up which can be based on a Patrick Damiaens Liege-style original or an alternative piece selected by the client.
Once the client has examined the preliminary design, any changes are made as necessary and a final draft is produced on tracing paper, ready to be transferred to the piece of furniture in question.
Although almost every aspect of Patrick’s work is carried out painstakingly by hand, the start off process for any piece involves the use of machinery.
The finalised design is transferred onto the item of furniture and then an electric milling machine is used to eliminate a large proportion of the excess wood from the project.
Once this has been done, Patrick removes any rough edges and remaining surplus wood with his own custom scraper.
Patrick uses his prized collection of Swiss and German chisels to delicately begin the process of carving intricate and exquisite detail into his subject.
Once the lengthy process is completed to Patrick’s high standards, the piece is handed back to the cabinetmaker to treat the wood and integrate the carved panel into the final item of furniture.
As well as producing extraordinary furniture, Patrick teaches his craft and writes a blog detailing his work and accomplishments, as well as inspiring future generations of wood carvers.
In honour of his exceptional craftsmanship, the Belgian Federal Government awarded Patrick with The Golden Badge of Honour – “The Elites of Labour”.
Patrick tells us more about the award and what it means.
“Every year hundreds of Belgians from various industries are given the badge of honour for the “Eliten van de Arbeid” (Elites of Labour), to praise them for their professional efforts and merits. This nomination is awarded by royal decree and is published in the Belgian Bulletin of Acts, Orders and Decrees.
On the one hand, a badge of honour is awarded during an official event, and on the other hand, a certificate is traditionally presented by the mayor of your municipality.
For 25 years now, my activities as a woodcarver have been a constant source of pleasure and satisfaction, and I even consider my work to be a personal quest, wherein my goal consists of bringing quality work to my environment, as an ambassador of sorts, who wishes to introduce the next generations to the complexity of my profession
This passion and attitude towards my profession has not gone by unnoticed by a number of technical committees, experts and jury members of the “Elites of Labour”(Eliten van de Arbeid) from the wood industry.”
Patrick also restores pieces, creates unique panels and specialises in heraldry. Here are some more examples of his incredible work.
More information about Patrick and details of his work can be found here: