Carvings

Mansbendel once stated "In every case all fine arts must be interpreted by a person of temperament. A woodcarver must put something of himself into his work. His eye must be trained to see ideas, and his imagination must picture the product. He must feel how a scroll turns or a leaf curls." . He frequently interpreted Texas themes-historic persons, places,and events as well as the flora and fauna of his adopted land. His pieces are noted for their fidelity, strength, and spirit. He was always the seeker of the quick, spontaneous effect, always careful to avoid chiseling the life out of an object.

Among the hardwoods that Mansbendel favored were walnut, oak and mahogany, all fairly open grained woods that connote ruggedness and all take stain quite well. Sometimes he used maple, gum or cherry and he positively disliked ebony. His favorite soft wood was pine and at this point basswood was not used for carving or he did not have access to it in Austin. He had friends at the at both Becker and Calcasieu lumber companies (Phil and Willie Dieter) in Austin who reserved for him the choicest wood from every shipment. Pine, of course could be carved with exertion no stronger than a blow with his right hand. Hardwoods on the other hand, often required the use of greater force which he provided with a carpenter hammer or domestic Potato masher (similar to a wooden carving mallet) He was not timid in use of either. His onetime pupil Alfred Wupperman remembered that Mansbendel demanded what he called in German a "Saftigen Schnitt", or meaty cut. His goal was to achieve a finished carving with the fewest possible strokes. Mansbendel typically finished his carvings with traditional stains, waxes, paints and sometimes gilded his work. He usually signed his portraitsand art pieces with a simple "Mansbendel" but I've also seen a few examples of a "Peter Mansbendel" with a year of completion. He usually did not sign his architectural work unless it was something quite unusual. For example the mantle at the Sheppard King House (now the "Mansion on Turtle Creek") in Dallas is signed.
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