Felix Tristani, resident at Trillium Woods, is known for his impressive wood carvings. What started as a chat with an artist at a wood carving show in 2004 has since grown into a cherished hobby, and now you can see Felix’s lifelike bird carvings all around the community at Trillium Woods.
Felix first explored the world of wood carving in Tucson, Arizona, where he met a fellow wood carver at an art show in his RV park and had the opportunity to attend their workshop. This community of carvers in Tucson helped Felix grow his knowledge of wood carving techniques, and he continued learning with a wood carvers’ group in St. Cloud. Felix started with relief carvings, a type of wood carving in which figures are carved in a flat panel of wood, and soon became interested in carving birds.
“That really is my passion now,” said Felix. “It’s carving birds.”
Once Felix chooses a bird to carve, he has an instructor create a roughout on a block of wood. Then, he carves the bird using hand tools. Once the bird is carved, Felix uses techniques like burning the wood to create a feather effect, and tediously paints the final details.
“When you finish it, I enjoy that part,” said Felix. “I am very critical of some of my work. I am never satisfied, it seems like. But I enjoy being able to carve it and certainly enjoy getting to paint it and have something that looks somewhat real.”
Felix’s work has been on exhibit in several places in the Twin Cities, including senior centers in St. Cloud and Maple Grove, and the Beneath the Bark show in St. Cloud. His family is proud to display his work too: each of his seven kids have at least one of his birds, and some of his grandkids do as well.
“I’m so happy that I got into this as a hobby because I can spend hours just sitting there either carving or painting. The time just goes by – my wife would say, ‘you’ve got to get up and walk around!’”
Felix’s late wife, Bibi, was an avid watercolor painter herself, and Felix was always very proud to see her work exhibited. Oftentimes, Felix would have her help him mix the right colors of paint for his own work.
Felix is still carving today and was thankful to have this hobby to turn to during the COVID-19 pandemic – often carving right at his kitchen counter in his apartment. He’s happy with the progress he’s made over the years, especially with the improvements in his bird carving.
“I feel so lucky that I was able to find carving because it’s a great hobby for me – a wonderful way to spend my spare time,” said Felix.
Felix enjoys talking with woodcarvers at the Maple Grove Community Center, as well as the fellow artists at Trillium Woods who display their work at the community.
“Seeing their work displayed in the resident showcase, that is inspirational,” said Felix.
Felix’s “Lady of Guadalupe” wood carving and several of his painted birds have been on display throughout the community. We look forward to seeing what Felix carves out next!