I’m currently reading ‘The Lost Carving‘ by celebrated wood carver David Esterly. Whilst I have to admit to speed-reading large chunks of it, (I just want to read about the technique and tools), it’s a nice insight into a wood-carver’s life.
When fire destroyed a good chunk of Hampton Court Palace in March 1986, the damage also reached a number of celebrated carvings by Grinling Gibbons.
Having turned away from academia, Esterly had already dedicated his life largely to carving, and the opportunity to help in the Hampton Court restoration was too good an opportunity to miss. So starts quite an interesting read (if a little over-romanticised for me personally), where David struggles with technique, the balance of recreating parts of the carvings, and the internal politics that surrounds the various societies responsible for organising the restoration.
I’d recommend the book, to a certain extent, if only to learn more about the techniques that this sort of deep ornamental sculpture demands.
David has very helpfully compiled a list of supplemental images, which illustrate the book very well, and I personally found them very interesting.