"Nearly famous since 2001"
Molds by Oldrich Kvapil
I worked all my life as a civil engineer building roads in the Czech Republic. Today at 69 years of age, carving cookie boards for honey cookies shaped from wooden negative molds is my life’s work and pleasure.
The baking of springerle is not very popular here in the Czech Republic but I carve custom springerle molds for people abroad. The carving technology for both kinds’ of molds is very similar. They both use negative molds.
My interest in this craft began in 1966. In this year two Czech artists had an exhibition of ancient cookie boards and honey cookies shaped from them. The exhibition was open in old castle Kuks in north east Bohemia. I had read an article in the magazine “Domov” about it. I was very interested with the topic of the article. The craft of baking a honey cookie shaped from wooden negative molds had just about been forgotten for more than 150 years.
Since then I have been looking at pictures of ancient cookie boards in books and museums. I found out that in each of our Czech museums were older cookie boards. As the craft was ending in the late 19th century our regional museums were beginning. The baking families would donate their old molds to the new museums. This is why so many museums now have these old boards today. I found this old folk craft to be a treasure and I was fascinated with it. I decided that I would achieve the skill of the old artists.
I found out that I needed the hard wood of pear, apple, cherry or plum trees to make the molds. My store of wooden boards was full from top to bottom. Meanwhile I was starting to carve with tools I got from my father. My father is 97 years old now but when he was young he carved puppets and had very fine carving tools. He taught me the carpentry trade by helping me build my new house.
The beginning was very hard and I found out that without knowledge of baking molded cookies my carving skills were insufficient.
The Czech painter Jiri Corvin was very helpful to me with this. He was a "renaissance" man being an academic painter, beekeeper, musician, very good cook and violin maker as well. He revived this old craft from books and talking with older people. We became friends and he taught me to bake the shaped cookies.
I've made many very intricate molds. I prefer carving custom molds and I make them according to the designs of what people ask for. Each new mold I carve is a great adventure and pleasure for me.
In September 2003 I received the title "Bearer of the Tradition of Folk Crafts" from the Czech Minister of Culture during the European Heritage Days in Prachatice.
If you have any questions for me, please e-mail me: email@example.com
I asked Olda to carve a custom mold for and he agreed to do so.
There was a picture I had seen quite some time ago that I liked so I found it, made changes to it that I wanted and e-mailed it to Olda.
At that point he sized it to the dimensions I requested and began work on it.
I was very pleased with the finished carving and am very happy with the Springerle my mold produces. You can see in the photos the steps Olda took to create the mold and you can see the Springerle I produce with it. The picture is of a baker using his peel to remove cookies from the oven and place them on his table. On the front oven wall there are Springerle molds hanging that the baker used to press his Springerle. On this Springerle my personal trade mark can also be found.
In a Springerle class I gave recently I took my mold to show that there are still a few master carvers that can produce Springerle molds of quality. After seeing my mold and viewing the other works carved by Olda, my student began working on a design for her own family mold. Something unique that she could produce during the holidays for friends and family. Perhaps because she is almost always baking, a Springerle of her in her kitchen. A place where warmth and love are always present.
Olda Kvapil is very talented and renowned for his work. If you are thinking of having a family mold produced, keep in mind that you may be having something created that will be enjoyed 100, 200, 300 or more years from now. If you do write to Olda, please tell him hello for me.
Contact: Ken Hamilton