Homo Faber

PRESS EN Languages Account Follow us Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter
Presented by logo Homo Faber by Michelangelo Foundation
Explore Discover Visit Experience Itineraries About
© Tf
© Tf
© Tf
© Tf
© Michelangelo Foundation

Roman Räss

  • Woodworker
  • Brienz, Switzerland
  • Master Artisan
Roman Räss Woodworker
German, English
By appointment only
+41 339514788
© Tf

Upholding a Swiss tradition

  • • Roman practises a craft that is now rare in Switzerland
  • • He sources wood from forests near Brienz
  • • He teaches at the Brienz School of Woodcarving

Roman Räss is one of the few Weissküfer artisans still working in Switzerland. He masters a technique that originated in the late 17th century as a way of shaping and bending wood to create milk pails, buckets, butter churners, moulds and other tools needed by alpine farmers. Woodcarving was a source of income for generations of families in the Bernese Oberland. In its heyday, in the second half of the 19th century, around 2,000 people were occupied as woodcarvers in the area. They made souvenirs such as wild and domestic animals and human figures, but also things for everyday use. The Brienz School of Woodcarving, which still trains woodcarvers today, was founded in 1884.

Read the full interview


  • © All rights reserved
  • © Roman Räss
  • © Roman Räss
  • © Roman Räss
  • © Roman Räss
Photo: © All rights reserved

This tall pine coloured sculpture is made from thin sheets of wood and composed of three interacting elements that form a sort of open vertical tower. The object is reminiscent of the holy trinity, with three distinct elements that combine as one. A small LED has been placed at the base of the sculpture, emitting a subtle glow.

Height 110 cm
Width 56 cm

Photo: © Roman Räss

Roman shaped the outline of the fox with a chainsaw and finished the details using chisels. The sculpture was crafted close to Lake Hinterburg in the Swiss Alps. During the winter of 1998-1999, an avalanche caused extensive damage to the forest and gave rise to the idea of transforming the fallen trees into sculptures. Since then, more than 100 figures have been carved.

Height 70 cm

Photo: © Roman Räss
Nativity figures

Both animal and human figures for this charming nativity scene were carved from linden or basswood (Tilia) using traditional tools. Some show the natural colour of the wood, others are painted. The human figures wear traditional dress.

Height 14 cm

Photo: © Roman Räss
Cow on Wheels

Designed and hand-carved by Roman, this toy cow with a traditional bell round its neck is mounted on a red platform that can be connected at either end to other wagons to make up a train. It is one of a series representing life on the farm.

Length 13 cm

Photo: © Roman Räss
Salt barrel

Apart from carving original sculptures and making toys, Roman also restores traditional vessels, such as this container once used to store salt.

Length 40 cm

You may also like

Download the app

Find all the Homo Faber Guide content at hand, save, like and much more!