The Lepi company is a famous Italian manufacturer of carved wooden figurines. The most popular are the nativity models. Each piece is made from a single piece of wood, and carved and painted by hand. Each piece is considered a unique work of art that expresses serious, realistic and pious devotion. Lepi figurines cover a large variety of biblical stories, including angels, lives of the saints and nativity scenes.
Val Gardena is one of the valleys with ancient rhaetoromanic origins, deeply attached to its past, its traditions and its own language. The main township is Ortisei which, together with Selva and Santa Cristina, developed a flourishing artistic handcraft industry due to the orders which have come to their wood carvers from all over the world ever since 1700.
The craft was perfected and noteworthy works of art were created so that many of the valley-dwellers saw their income increase considerably. Professional and Art schools grew up alongside the numerous workshops and they represent the continuity of the technical and creative ability which this valley has cherished and which has made it famous and esteemed throughout the world.
In 1920 Leo Prinoth Sr. founded a wood-carving workshop called LEPI which still continues the same activity today. At that time, the articles requested were mainly wooden appliances for various uses, buttons, letters of the alphabet, ornamental ciphres, brooches, bottle stoppers, weather houses, clock cases, grandfather clocks and the like. Soon after, profane and religious carvings were produced following the artistic lines of famous artists such as Kreuzer, Prugger, Nocker, Piccolruaz, Vallazza, Kaeser and Perathoner.Weathered lime and stone pine was used and the results were remarkable. Besides the numerous typically folkloristic pieces, attention was increasing for religious figures and so of course the nativity crib became of greater interest.
In 1992 LEPI moved to their present location and had hense gained an increase of 90 % in its export. Leo Prinoth's Jr. sons, Alfred, Roland and Diego, help him run the business thus ensuring thet the family and the Val Gardena artistic traditions continues and enriches itself with new and original solutions.
The LEPI models are made by renowned artists. Such as: Kreuzer, Prugger, Nocker, Piccolruaz, Vallazza, Kaeser and Perathone..
Weathered wood free of knots (maple, lime, oak, stone pine) is cut and carved with pantographs according to the artist‘s model.
Then the delicate carving work is carried out by experienced woodcarvers.
Following this, the woodcarvings are carefully painted, stained or gilded according to traditional methods.