This form of German folk art, called ‘Spanbaumstechel’ is a traditional form of wood carving arising out an area called Erzgebirge, a mountain range in the German countryside. The carving is done by fixing a wooden dowel to a turning lathe. A turning lathe is an instrument that turns the dowel as you carve, whether manually or electrically.

This carving technique is called “turning”. By using the lathe to secure the dowel, the artist is able to shave the dowel down to create a base. Then, they remove the base from the lathe, and secure the rest of the dowel into a clamp. To carve the wood, the artist shaves wood chips while manually rotating the dowel. This creates the classic tree shape, called “Spanbaum”, which translates to “span tree”. Artists are very specific about the kind of wood that is chosen, only a straight basswood is appropriate for such carving.