Review: The Lost Carving

For my birthday, my wife bought me a book called “The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making“, written by David Esterly. Esterly may arguably be one of the most talented carvers of our age. This book details his experience replacing a seven foot-long Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721) carving destroyed during the fire at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace in 1986. I didn’t really know what to expect from this book – was it going to be one long epitome of the process involved in carving this piece of work? Would I actually read past the first few pages? Well, it is an exceptionally well written book, which offers an insight into the creativity and physical effort required to replicate a work of art over three centuries old. What I immensely enjoyed were the investigative pieces scattered  throughout the book – for example the quest to find out when lime was applied to the pieces. Esterly offers a perspective of a different sort of carving, as most of his work involves limewood (basswood or linden), an ideal wood for carving due to the lack of grain. An excellent read.

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