Carving is the art of creating sculptures and decorations from vegetables and fruits. What is its history? What kind of knives are necessary here? What kinds of carving styles can we deal with? You will learn all about this in this article.
Carving is a branch of the so-called palace art, which originated in Thailand, Japan and China. It was created over 1000 years ago for the purpose of decorating dishes at royal courts. Animal and plant motifs were carved with special knives and then colored with natural dyes to whet the appetites of the guests.
Unripe fruits such as papaya, musk pumpkin, watermelon or melon are best suited for carving. They are particularly suitable for beginners. This is due to the fact that they have a relatively soft flesh and a large surface that allows you to freely cut out various shapes. Vegetables such as beets, turnips, radishes, rutabagas or squash are also used in carving. Since these are smaller and tougher, they require a little more practice. The same applies to the so-called difficult vegetables, which include onions, tomatoes and chili peppers. In Asia, plants such as Japanese radish or colocasia tubers are also sometimes used for carving.
To be able to start your adventure with the art, which is carving, you should get a special knife. In traditional Thai carving, only the classic Thai knife is used for this purpose. On store shelves you can find different types of sets, which are used by both beginners and advanced people. They may include, among other things, a U-shaped knife necessary for making round or oval-shaped incisions. There is also a V-shaped knife for making triangular cuts in the shape of flowers, leaves or branches. A long, very sharp knife is used for first processing large fruits and vegetables.
There is also the Siamese knife, which is indispensable for making difficult patterns on somewhat smaller fruits and vegetables. Carving kits also include a chisel for carving precise details, a punch for making balls from the flesh of fruit such as melon or watermelon, a vegetable sharpener for making decorative flowers, scissors for cutting out flat pieces such as leaves, and a citrus peeler.
There are several different types of carving. The most popular is Thai, which is the oldest. What distinguishes it is the delicacy, finesse and lightness of the patterns, as well as the speed of movements. Thai carving includes mainly floral and animal motifs as well as large, combined compositions consisting of carved vegetables and fruits with accents in the form of leaves and branches. Only one knife is used in Thai carving – the Thai knife.
Another variety of carving is Chinese, which is dominated by scenes from Chinese culture. They are carved by leaving watermelon rind and cutting out the background. Most often we come across battle scenes, elements of the Chinese alphabet, dragons and sports motifs. We can also deal with European carving, which is a mixture of the above-mentioned styles. The works here may concern various subjects. Most often, however, small amounts of watermelon rind are left, which is intended to emphasize the applied patterns and motifs of flowers, leaves, inscriptions and drawings. It is also worth mentioning spatial sculpture, which is similar to carving in stone, wood or ice. The works created by carving artists are peculiar works of art requiring a highly developed spatial imagination.
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