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Five Generations of Dentzel Design

(click on image for enlargement)

For at least 160 years the Dentzel name has been identified with excellence in the pioneering and development of the hand carved carousel. The Dentzel story can be traced back to 1837 when Michael Dentzel first began building and touring the countryside of Germany with his beautiful machines. Michael's grandson Gustav, followed in his foot steps. Gustav, emigrated to America in 1864 at the age of 18, and by 1867 he was in the business of building carousels.

The name CAROUSEL comes from the Italian CAROSELLO or "little war", a game brought back from the crusades involving clay balls of scented water thrown between galloping horsemen in a ring. In the sixteenth century the French called the game carrousel and turned it into a magnificent spectacle of fancy dress and horsemanship. It made perfect sense for Michael Dentzel to develop the carousel as he was a woodworker and wheel wright. By the late 1920' s after the death of William Dentzel, carousel manufacturing in the Dentzel family slowly came to an end, at which time William's younger brother, Edward came to California and became a designer/builder of large Beverly Hills homes. He served as councilman for many years and later, mayor.

Today there is a revival in the Dentzel family. In the late 1970's and early 80's William Dentzel II, Edward's son, began carving as an avocation to his career in law. It seems that he, too, had the talent of a master carver. Today David Dentzel and his brother Bill are carrying on in the fine Dentzel tradition. David's brother Bill has been focusing on the original Dentzel carousel concept of a hand powered carousel while David has been devoting his time to creating one of a kind full size Dentzel animals. The Dentzel name became well known throughout the world primarily because of the magnificent anatomical carving given to each animal. Master carvers from Italy, Germany and throughout Europe were working in the Dentzel shop. Edward Dentzel, grandfather to David, was a master head carver and worked in the Dentzel shop until it closed a year before the Great Depression of 1929. Many of these magnificent sculptures reside at museums around the country such as The Smithsonian Institute, The Shelbourne Museum in Vermont, The Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, Ohio, and recently exhibited at The Mingei International Museum in San Diego.

David Dentzel in his Santa Barbara studio


David began his wood working career as a young boy, borrowing his fathers tools for his many projects. By his early twenties he was on his way to becoming a master wood carver and designer/builder of fine period furniture as well as original and commission pieces. David has delved into many areas of wood working. He has built the interiors of restaurants, country clubs, sailboats, automobiles and houses, as well as designed and manufactured furniture in such countries as China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico and Haiti. He has designed and built pieces for Michael Douglas, Robert Zameckis, Marvin Davis, Kenny Loggins, Julia Childs, the Pillsbury family, the list goes on.

At 46 years old David has covered a lot of ground and has maintained a business in the Santa Barbara area for the last 25 years. He has apprenticed many wood workers who come and go, learning what they can at the Dentzel shop. Over the next several years David plans to focus his attention carving full-size Dentzel carousel animals and creating original furniture on a commission basis. He is not letting up any time soon and will stay busy until the next generation carries on.

Apache Horse carved for Ray and Lynn Marchi Mora
New Mexico, April 2000

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