xxYears ago, the art of carving a cookie or cake board was one that was practiced by more than a few woodcarvers. These woodcarvers lived in many of the towns and cities throughout central Europe. The carvers were commissioned by bakers to carve cookie boards with images that reflected popular trends and cultural traditions found in 17 to 19th century Europe and the United States. However, the arrival of the Industrial Revolution marked a change in the way many bakers manufactured cookies. Wooden molds were being quickly replaced by machines fitted with metal molds. These machines could form hundreds, even thousands of cookies in a fraction of the time that most bakers could make cookies from wooden molds. Not to mention, the metal molds could withstand much more wear and tear than the wooden molds, making them much more cost effective for bakers to use. Thus marked not only the decline of wooden cookie boards, but also the numbers of skilled carvers who had the ability to carve in the intaglio style needed to produce wooden cookie boards. Today, there are only a handful of woodcarvers who still practice this fading art form. Some carve everything by hand, just as carvers did hundreds of years ago, while others take advantage of modern day technology. Whether or not the modern day cookie board carver uses electric tools is simply not important. What is important is that these skilled craftsmen are carrying on the tradition of carving cookie boards and not letting this once flourishing trade fade into relative obscurity.
The Woodcarvers
(click on each woodcarver's picture or name for examples of their work)
Evolution of a Cookie Board
xxWhat the canvas is to a painter, the plain wooden board is to a woodcarver. For it is the woodcarver who uses his imagination and skill to carefully carve the board, until his wooden canvas comes to life. Such is the case with this cookie board of St. Nicholas riding a horse, carved by Olda Kvapil. By clicking on the link to the left, you can see four different stages of this particular cookie board as it was carved. Note how overall depth comes first, followed by more and more detail until the mold is finished. The more deeply carved details are those which are most prominent on the surface of the molded cookie.