Carving workshop

Designing and carving commission project for Beacon Hill Books & Café


In association with Melissa Fetter owner of Beacon Hill Books & Café and Monika Pauli architect, we designed many beautiful sculptures for their new bookstore. It is located at 71 Charles Street in Beacon Hill, Boston MA.

When walking along Charles Street in Beacon Hill, one can connect with its ancient architecture. There are many eye-catching shopfronts to look at but there is one that will definitely attract attention the most.

It begins with a hanging wooden sign sculpture displaying ''Paige'' the squirrel. Perched onto a stack of books, Paige is clearly visible from the sidewalk, so the clientele has a first impression to the magical atmosphere found in the bookstore.

A long signage with carved and gilded letters displays the name of the bookstore and café. It is fixed onto the 18 th century brickwork of the building and blends very well.

Inside the bookstore:

The interior retains all of the features designed in the 1800, a priority for the owner. All of the additional decorative elements were carefully designed with this in mind. In one of the rooms, a new carved frieze work displays a fine typical example.

It is said that the original previous owner was Sir Joslin Gilman. He was a prominent globemaker.

So, we took the challenge to design a globe of the Americas. The carving applique has its part in the frieze work.

Each room has its own fireplace mantle and its own theme with specific carvings. For example, in the children tearoom, there is a fireplace mantlepiece decorated by a center piece. It portrays two young squirrels holding on to their books and there is even a butterfly landing onto the book cover.


The Café restaurant:

A flight of stairs below is the Café restaurant and its fireplace features "un art de la table" center piece theme. This includes an interlaced ribbons and flatware with teacups finely carved.

All furniture and bookshelves were beautifully designed so to tie up with the architectural context some oak acorns applique was made for this purpose.


List of carvings made in my studio now decorating the bookstore:

1, Hanging sign, Acorns; 3, Quarter board sign with carved V-cut gilded letters; 4, Palladian inspired frieze work applique carvings; 5, Fireplace mantlepiece carvings; 6, Garden bird carving





Hanging sign sculptures in mahogany for Beacon Hill Books and Café

Three stages were necessary to produce the hanging sign: First a 1:10 clay model - 2 : Half-scale maquette or mock up - 3: Carving full-size - 4 : Painting

1/10 scale clay model based from Client's logo. 4" x 3" x 2"

Paige the squirrel clay model mock up for Beacon Hill Books and Café, Boston MA

Half-scale maquette or mock up. 12" x 10"1/2 x 6"

Full size sculptures of Paige the squirrel sat on book stacks holding an acorn wood carvings in mahogany for Beacon Hill Books and Café, Boston MA

Carving full-size. 24" x 21" x 12"

Painting by Monika Pauli architect

Working progress video

Description about video content

The video shows the signage carving project from its very beginning until completion.

1: A solid block of African mahogany  was carefully assembled, glued  and delivered to my shop by the builders. I could imagine that the illustration would make sense when looking at the carving blank.

2: The theme logo was designed by the client and architect.  In total I produced two clay models based from the illustrated logo.

3: A first small clay model was produced to set a feel for the theme.

4: A second clay model helped me to contextualizing the design and its geometry.

Knowing that the signage was going to be visible from both sides, I was curious to see how the illustration would look.  But most importantly, how would the meeting points were going to be in relation to the center line axis.

This is when a clay model can help not just for aesthetic reasons but for technical purposes. So I though that the bookstacks  could be carved in perspective and Paige the squirrel on the round. This in hope that the mirror image challenge would work.

Another important parameter was to evaluate an appropriate distance and view angle from were the signage was going to be seen, this involved many "points de fuite".

5: The rest was easy, the illustration could be traced onto the block of mahogany. Then the removal process took place using a chainsaw until there were enough wood left for carving by gouges.




wood carving progress pictures on left is logo drawing of a squirrel sat on books in middle is the full size sculpted in mahogany on the right is the carving painted

Design / Carving / Painting

Quarter board sign with hand-carved V-cut gilded letters

(330" long x 12" wide ) Gilding using 23.75kt-Rosenoble Double Gold-Leaf Loose

V-cut carved and gilded letters, fast motion

V-cut carved and gilded letters, slow motion

Triglyphs and Metopes carvings for frieze work in Palladian style

Globe of " The Americas" carving for frieze work

Globe of the Americas sculptures for frieze work

Attribute of science, globe of the Americas carving for frieze work

 artist palette sculptures for frieze work

Attribute of the arts, artist palette carving for frieze work

Quill with Penny Ink Well sculptures for frieze work

Quill with Penny Ink Well , attribute of the arts

Open book sculptures for frieze work

Attribute of science, carved open book

Triglyph carving for frieze work

Fireplace mantle centerpiece carvings

Sculptures of two squirrels holding books with a butterfly touching book cover

Children tea room fireplace mantle carvings

Children tea room with fireplace mantle and table with armchairs

Open book with BHBC monogram sculptures

Open book with BHBC carved monogram fireplace mantle carvings

Bookstore first floor with BHBC carved monogram fireplace mantle carvings

Sculptures of two oak leaves
Oak leaf with two acorns prior to gilding

Acorns and oak leaves

Beacon Hill Books & Café

Beacon Hill Books & Café can be visited here

Gilded oak leaf with acorns sculptures for Beacon Hill Books and Café
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