- Madonna statues
- one-off products
Thalerhof farm is located at 900 metres above sea level in the district of Schnauders above the village of Feldthurns. Fantastic views of the Dolomites may be had from the farm, which has been in the family’s hands since 1772. The Kerschbaumer family’s cowshed is home to 15 dairy cows and their young and there are two holiday flats on the farm, which are rented out to guests. Another eleven hectares of woodland also belong to Thalerhof. Herbert Kerschbaumer, the farmer, enjoys spending time in the woods as much as he does in his spacious wood carving workshop, where he may be seen working along with his father, also a keen wood carver, mainly in the winter months.
“What fascinates me about wood carving?“, Herbert Kerschbaumer doesn’t have to think too hard. “The fact that your own hands have the power to make an attractive sculpture out of a nondescript piece of wood”, answers the native of Feldthurns. He has been carving wood for over 25 years and learnt his trade in St. Ulrich in Gröden, the cradle of South Tyrolean wood carving. “This ancient handcraft is not just a hobby for me, but my vocation – an enjoyable, but also serious, business”, stresses Kerschbaumer as he strokes a piece of old wood and thinks about what he could carve out of it. “With time you develop a feel for which type of wood, whether soft or hard, is good for what and what you could carve out of a whole tree trunk, for example”, explains the young wood carver, who also holds wood carving courses in his workshop.
Herbert Kerschbaumer particularly likes carving old wood and root wood, as he can produce something a little bit out of the ordinary. “This is precisely the beauty of this work – the fact that things are not too perfect and the sometimes strenuous manual work involved can be better brought to the fore”, the farmer underlines. With expert hands, he places the chisel to strike. After the initial cut comes the precision work, which likewise requires the utmost skill, for if too much is cut away in one place, it cannot be remedied. “Sensitivity, a love of precision and the willingness to knuckle down and work”, are important characteristics in wood carvers in his opinion, as his fingers skim over the work clamped in front of him, feeling every notch and ‘re-carving’ it if necessary.
The wood carver from Thalerhof can boast a versatile repertoire – from late Romanesque to modern female sculptures. The ‘Feldthurner Gesichter’, or character faces from Feldthurns, which he produced for the Museum of Folk Costume in Schloss Velthurns, are among his favourites. The wood forming the basis for his stylish carvings comes mainly from his family’s own forest, which lies behind the farm. Native wood such as Swiss pine, chestnut, larch, lime and spruce is used in his workshop. Tree trunks and logs often lie around for years before the farmer turns them into a work of art. Once at work, ideas about what he can do come to him thick and fast. “I never plan for the long term, but decide in a short space of time what I want to make”, says the woodcarver whose lifeblood is the living material, wood.
Take the Klausen exit from the Brenner motorway and follow signs to Feldthurns. Turn off left in the village centre and follow the road up the hill towards ‘Schnauders’. After about one kilometre there is a turning leading to Thalerhof down a small road on the left-hand side.