Carved wooden corbels are produced today in a wide variety of designs and styles. Many of the styles are adopted from earlier architectural eras; from the Victorian and Georgian eras back to the Greek and Roman Empires. There are also modern variations that are the creations of contemporary craftsmen.
Among the more traditional designs are those using floral patterns, carved arrays of oak leaves, or bundles of grapes on the vine. Acanthus leaves are also a traditional choice, dating back to the Greek civilization that included a city named Acanthus and a mythological nymph named Acantha. Floral rosettes are often the centerpiece of a traditional corbel. One of the designs that was used in subtle fashion in past eras and is a full blown modern design today is the wave corbel.
- Wave corbels seem to be an extension of the traditional scrolls that can be found decorating ancient corbels and columns. The wave corbel of today does not utilize the traditional triangular format of most corbels: it is one sweeping curved piece that is designed to function as a load bearing device.
- A typical wave corbel is topped with a scroll that provides the horizontal flat area for supporting a shelf or mantel.
- Sweeping down from the scroll is the wave corbel’s front, which curves back toward the wall with a series of lines representing layers of water.
- The base of the wave corbel curls forward in a small rounded tip, like the small top of a breaking wave.
- The sides also sweep to the rear of the corbel, towards the vertical face. There are many curved lines along the sides representing water in motion.
- Wave corbels come close to disguising their functionality because of the clever design utilizing curved surfaces.
- Carved wooden corbels can be stained to match any wooden shelving or surface that they are supporting.