Englishman in Crni Lug Learning Traditional Croatian Roofing

Total Croatia News

A meeting of traditional roofing minds in Risnjak National Park on November 27, 2016.

Dave Watson is the owner of Woodland Survival Crafts in the UK. The company provides quality approved Bushcraft courses for schools, business, individuals and outdoor professionals. Woodland Survival Crafts are also interested in discovering and preserving traditional wood crafts, locally and abroad. Dave’s previous visits to Crni Lug were with Woodland Ways organisation, which organises yearly trips with NP Risnjak to track and observe local wildlife.

At Crni Lug village, up in the mountains of NP Risnjak, Dave Watson met Anton Stimac, also known as Toni. Toni is a craftsman and an expert in constructing traditional regional roof by hand crafting wooden piece, which is a method known as Roof Shingle or Sindra in Croatian language. This craft is a few centuries old. Toni has learnt it from his father and has passed it onto his son and his grandson.

Here at Crni Lug, Sindra or Roof Shingle is crafted using local fir tree (Abies Alba), which is widely represented in the area. Similar roofing methods are being used in other mountainous terrains worldwide, however, Toni uses his own, unique, tried and tested technique. He crafts the wood from start to finish using traditional handmade tools and his hands. Toni also has a unique way of picking a specific type of fir tree, which he then uses to prepare roofing pieces. Such discoveries really intrigued and excited Dave.

“I am familiar with the various ways of Roof Shingle techniques, but the way Toni crafts it, is really fascinating and interesting”, said Dave.

Both Dave and Toni acknowledged some of the advantages of using natural building materials such as wood; Wood can improve energy efficiency as it is an excellent insulator, wood is healthy as it is free of toxic materials, its naturally beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, using wood means we are reducing the impact on our environment. “Building out of wood means supporting local jobs for carpenters and local craftsmen like Toni and myself”, said Dave.

This meeting of two passionate craftsmen was facilitated by Snjezana Jojic who did some thorough research on the subject; “I believe such workshops provide good understanding into the value of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, they educate on local environment and add to local sustainability.”

Dave and Toni spent most mornings exchanging knowledge and learning from one another. “Toni’s technique is quite unique and he is a great teacher. Therefore I am very certain that my fellow wood craftsmen from the Uk would be very interested in learning the same in the near future”, said Dave.

Toni alluded to the same idea of developing local workshops with Dave. “I am very happy and pleased Dave is interested in our local craft. Dave is quick and enthusiastic learner and even though I do not speak English, we can communicate easily via craft itself”, said Toni.

In recent years Toni’s eagerness to protect and register his unique and authentic roof covering technique paid off. craft is now recognised and certified by Croatian Ministry of Culture. Toni actively participates in cultural exhibitions throughout Croatia demonstrating the unique craft of Roof Shingle.

“I am passionate about it and it is not only my hobby, but also who I am.” said Toni.

Author of article in Croatian; Marinko Krmpotic – Novi List 
Translation; Snjezana Jojic


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