Franco Comploj
Wood carvings manufactory since 1929
Gradena Art wood carvings
Franco wood carvings

Frequently asked questions FAQ

! It is very simple to maintain the beauty of your woodcarvings. All you have to do is to dust them with a soft brush from time to time. Do not use any cleaning agent! You should avoid placing the woodcarvings in a moist environment or exposing them to direct sunlight and/or extreme temperature changes.

! No, not at all. With the time passing, the sculptures will look more precious and finer because the wood gets a darker hue and the colors appear softer. This contrast increases the value of the artwork as time passes.

! Wood is a living material. If exposed to all sorts of weather conditions, it will be ruined. With a special waterproof treatment the statue can be preserved, although this treatment does not guarantee complete protection even if regularly repeated. If the sculpture is exposed in a dry and sun protected place, it can be left outdoors.

! It is not easy to tell the exact amount of time required for the production of a woodcarving as this depends on the sculpture itself. A woodcarving in baroque style for example requires more elaborated details such as folded robes, whereas other sculptures might be stylized with plain and simple features. Furthermore, there are various work stages and different working procedures for the surface.

! Our craftsmen acquire the necessary artistic skills while working for several years with a master and at the same time attending the vocational school for handicraft in Ortisei, Val Gardena. This way, the artistic skill is passed on from generation to generation (very often from the parents to their own children).

! Yes, all the woodcarvings available in the Franco Online Shop are from our own production. We supply shops all around the world with our woodcarvings.

! Our woodcarvings are 100 % made in Val Gardena and the bordering areas by local artists and craftsmen. The production is very often carried out by the craftsmen at home, like in the past, when such activity represented the only source of income, especially during the long, hard winters in Val Gardena. For our company, the preservation of this tradition is essential, also because we can support local families and especially the mothers, so that they have a job opportunity but can still care for the children at home.

! Our company name Franco is the acronym of FRAnz COmploj, who founded the company four generations ago, in 1929. With the brand FRANCO we guarantee best artistic work 100 % made in Val Gardena, authenticity and quality (each woodcarving bears a quality trademark and certificate, certifying the origin).

! The woodcarvers, whose sculptures are exclusively produced in Val Gardena, have formed the association Gardena Art to protect their art and craft traditions. All the member companies commit themselves to producing the woodcarvings entirely in Val Gardena. Franco has been a member of this association of woodcarving companies since its foundation.

! Even if the wooden sculptures get their rough draft with the use of an electric pantograph, it is still correct to talk about handmade artworks. The woodcarver working on the pantograph requires excellent skill and knowledge of the craft to produce a rough draft of the figure, so that it can be completed by hand in the best possible way.

! Of course. We work exclusively with selected types of solid wood from our alpine woods and forests. In the course of the time, we have acquired great expertise in the choice and treatment of the various wood types. Our favourite wood types are mountain maple and linden wood.

! Mountain maple wood is a hard, solid and clear type of wood with few branch inclusions. Therefore, we prefer to use this type of wood for finely carved figures up to 16 inch (40 cm) where the surface is usually polished. Linden wood is a softer type of wood used more for bigger sculptures. In such case, the chisel is used to carve the surface of the sculpture and you can recognize each single incision of the woodcarver. If you compare the weight of a mountain maple wood figure with a linden wood figure, you will certainly notice the difference.

  • Ladin: Aier da mont / Linda (Ladin is the mothertongue in our valley)
  • Latin: Acer pseudoplatanus / Tilia
  • Italian: Acero / Tiglio
  • German: Bergahornholz / Lindenholz
  • Spanish: Madera de arce / Madera de tilo
  • French: Bois d'erable / Bois de tilleul

! The trademark "entirely hand carved" is applied to the sculptures, which have been produced without any use of electrical devices. The trademark is issued by the Chamber of Commerce of Bolzano.

! The price results from the skill of the artists and craftsmen of Val Gardena, which has a certain prestige. The sculptures are artworks for all those who are aware of and value their worth.

! Yes, woodcarving is a typical craft of Val Gardena that has been passed on to us from our ancestors. We have exported our artworks and woodcarvings all around the world since more than 400 years, a fact that has certainly contributed to the development of the tourism in our valley.

! The majority of sculptures in our collection derive from our religious tradition but in the catalogue you will find profane figures as well, such as animals, children and ballerinas.

  • The Romanesque style is a European art style from about 1000 to 1250 AD. This style is characterized by solid and massive figures with a stiff posture and rather long bodies. The folds of the figures’ robes seems neatly arranged on purpose as if "combed". These representations look both strict and ceremonial alike.
  • The Gothic period ranges approximately from 1250 to 1500 AD. In art and architecture this style can be recognized by the long, thin shapes. Gothic figures characteristically feature the so-called Y-fold, S-shaped bodies and the separation of standing and leaning leg. The statues usually have a friendly look.
  • The Baroque period, from about 1600 to 1750 AD, is characterized by round shapes and rich, prestigious and colorful representations.

! The production of a woodcarving undergoes several stages. Firstly, the model is created in ever detail in collaboration with the artist. Then a clay model is produced on the basis of a drawing or sketch, so that the three-dimensional figure can be seen as well. The next stage is carving the figure in wood and then casting it in bronze in order to reproduced it with the pantograph in several dimensions. After the rough draft is finished, another woodcarver redefines all the details of each sculpture by hand and prepares it for the surface treatment.

  • Colourless waxed and polished (WAX.NAT.)
    ! The wax preserves the wood, allowing the figure to remain clean and smooth and not to absorb the dirt.
  • Brown stained, polished with colorless wax (PAT.)
    ! The surface is stained with a light brown tone. The stain is applied and shaded on the protruding surfaces, so that these are a little lighter than the rest of the figure. By doing so, we emphasize the three-dimensional element of the figure. After this procedure, the figure is waxed for preservation.
  • Stained in multiple brownish tones, polished with colorless wax (MULTI.PAT.)
    ! Stained in multiple brownish tones means that we apply various brownish tones on the sculpture, so that particular features like the hair, the eyes, the mouth and parts of the clothes are darker than the rest. In this way, the face is much lighter and the contrast with the darker tones is highlighted. After being stained, the figure is waxed. This treatment particularly emphasizes the wood, as the various stain colours correspond to the wood colours.
  • Hand painted, varnished and gilded (COLOR)
    ! With the varnished painting, the wood grain can be particularly noticed which testifies the high quality of the product. The colours are applied and shaded on the protruding surfaces, so that these are lighter than the other parts and the three-dimensional features are further emphasized.
  • Hand painted with an antique finish and real gold leaf of 23 carat on chalk ground (OLD ANT.GOLD. / ANT.GOLD.)
    ! A chalk ground is first applied on the wooden figure in order to create the "antique creases" and prepare the suface to the application of the gold leaves. Beneath the gold leaves you can recognize a light red colour (which is called "Bolla"). These fine gold leaves are applied on the figure with a brush by local master gilders. The passage from one leaf to the other can be recognized. The decoration with 23 carat gold leaves is prestigious and the application can be matt or shiny, although just real gold can be polished in order to produce the shiny effect. The antique finish is carried out by painters with great expertise. Such painters are demanded craftmen and often also work as restorators of valuable artworks in museums.

! The sizes of the crib figurines as used in their descriptions (children, animals etc.) refer to the actual size of the St. Joseph figurine. The animals of the nativity scenes – camel, elephant, ox and donkey – are represented smaller than they would be in reality. An elephant carved in real proportions would be perceived as oversized.

! The first size indicated refers to the size of the corpus from head to toe; the second size, labeled with †, is the size of the cross. The cross is normally twice as long as the corpus, except for Romanic Crucifixes.

! Our main purpose is to give and share our pleasure and joy for woodcarvings and craftwork with the people, be it customers, employees or our family members. The prerequisite for the achievement of this goal is the guarantee of the highest possible quality of FranCo woodcarvings, according to our artistic tradition. For our family enterprise the preservation of the social and economic structure in Val Gardena is of paramount importance, since the majority of the woodcarving production is accomplished locally, a fact which allows us to guarantee the authenticity of the works „100% made in Val Gardena, Italy". Local artists design the models and the rough sculptures are created exclusively in Val Gardena workshops and are then completed by qualified local sculptors and painters, mostly in their workshops at home. Another important objective we are pursuing is to establish long-term relationships with our employees, suppliers and customers. We have fostered and kept up relationships with our suppliers and customers for several generations. All employees of our company act customer-oriented since we would like that our customers always have a pleasure with the acquired art work. We are rooted in a long tradition but also seek to adapt to the society’s changes. Our company stands for Christian and ethic values so that a sustainable and environmentally-aware behaviour is just a logical consequence in our company philosophy. As a small family-owned business, we seek to be and remain competitive and economically successful.

Autor: Franz Comploj, Copyright: Franco Comploj - All rights reserved.

If you have any further questions or suggestions don't hesitate to contact us! We will be happy to help you.