The Art of Subtraction
June 26, 2013 1:55 PM   Subscribe

David Esterly makes intricate, delicate carvings out of wood, in the tradition of Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), whose spectacular cascades of flowers, fruits and foliage revolutionized ornamental sculpture during the age of Christopher Wren.
posted by ocherdraco (7 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Amazing that it's possible to carve such thin, fragile features out of wood. How do the stems of those leaves possibly resist the pressure of the knife as the veins are being carved? Does anyone have a link to a video of the process?
posted by CHoldredge at 2:25 PM on June 26, 2013

Series about great British woodworkers continues by looking at the life and work of Grinling Gibbons. He isn't a household name...

... but he should be, if only because he has THE BEST NAME EVER.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:20 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

What wonderful craftsmen! (Both Gibbons and Esterly.) In an age of automated mass production and 3D printing, it's guys like Esterly who will be king.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:03 PM on June 26, 2013

Years and years ago I read (surely I didn't dream it?) that he had made a mirror frame for Germaine Greer, all the plants in question being poisonous (amanita muscaria, foxglove, deadly nightshade, etc.).

I went so far as to inquire of the fellow how much for another. Alas! Way more than I could afford.

More on him here.
posted by BWA at 4:44 PM on June 26, 2013

Artists who make physically small art have fallen out of favor--if they ever were in favor. Seems if you don't employ engineers to design your three story stainless steel vortex, or fill a hall with clay sunflower seeds your work can never be impactful, or on the global, cross-cultural scale so in demand.
posted by Halogenhat at 9:05 PM on June 26, 2013

Look at the wood and the way he carves it
Must have taken him years
I asked him the price and he said it was free
And I couldn't believe my ears

Tell me old man how long have you lived
To have such amazing talent?
I'm twenty years short of a century
And the best years are in the balance

As a baby his mother had fed him frogs
And a wide assortment of lizards
It made him tough and wise and strange
And gave him the mind of a wizard

Look at the wood and the way he carves it
Must have taken him yeeeears . . .

Well, Jesus, it must've taken 'im a long time!
posted by Herodios at 9:13 AM on June 27, 2013

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