the master woodcarver Iva n Dim itr ov ha s spe nt a lif e t ime pe rf e ct ing hi s craf t by St e ve n Horak
Three-dimensional works of great refinement are Dimitrov’s specialty.
Using tools and techniques that have changed little over the years, Ivan Dimitrov of Santa Fe Woodcarving (santafewoodcarving.com) has been creating masterful works for over 35 years. Having arrived in Santa Fe in the late 1990s from his native Bulgaria, Dimitrov soon caught the attention of area galleries and clients with his ornamental furniture, doors, sculptures, architectural flourishes, and interior décor. His works have since appeared prominently in public spaces such as La Fonda on the Plaza and local churches as well as in homes in Santa Fe and around the world.
“You cannot climb up right away on the top of the tree. You have to climb branch after branch.”—Ivan Dimitrov Dimitrov grew up in Shumen, in northeast Bulgaria, not far from Varna and the Black Sea. He spent his youth in and near forests, quickly becoming familiar with the qualities of different kinds of woods. That knowledge would eventually serve him well when he decided to devote himself to woodcarving full-time after working as a coal miner and in a glass factory in the Balkan Peninsula. Honing his craft has been a slow and steady process. As Dimitrov notes, “You cannot climb up right away on the top of the tree. You have to climb branch after branch.” Nearly 500 chisels of varying size and width fill Dimitrov’s tidy Santa Fe workshop, each one with a specific use in helping him to shape woods such as mahogany, ponderosa pine, alder, and oak. The compact space serves a purpose, too—everything Dimitrov needs to create is within reach. Dimitrov has shared his passion for woodcarving not only with his son, guitarist Tiho Dimitrov—a talented woodcarver in his own right whom Ivan sees as his equal—but also with students at his popular courses at Santa Fe Community College. He teaches them not only to share his techniques, but also to celebrate the process itself. As Dimitrov explains, “Woodcarving is very healing.” 86
Fanciful birds and natural themes adorn a wall panel.