Last year, during the Lie-Nielsen open house in Warren, Maine, I sat and talked with John Hoffman of Lost Art Press – over a few beers. In our conversation I mentioned to him that one day I would like to write a book on woodcarving. I had thrown this idea around with several people over the previous few months, but never really came to any real solid decision. Maybe it was the beer – maybe it was the beautiful Maine climate – maybe it was John’s profound logic about what makes books successful…
The conversation with John went something like this:
John: What would you like to write about?
John: Yeah, but narrow it down.
Me: I don’t know. There are a lot of beginning carving books out there. I would like to do something more unique and special.
John: Think about that one topic that you are really interested in, the topic that you know a lot about, and the topic where people can sense and see the enthusiasm and love for what you are doing.
Me: Mmmmm… (that’s me thinking)
John: Find that topic, go slightly off the reservation with that topic, and then come back – slightly. (I loved this advice)
Me: Hmmmm… (that’s me thinking some more)
John: Whatever the topic, it needs to be something YOU are definitely interested in and passionate about. Readers will respond to writing that is real. If you’re bored writing it, the readers will be bored reading it.
Me: Yeah… (my mind swimming with ideas)
The conversation ended with my mind considering all the possibilities – a book on basic carving techniques (many good books already out there on this), period furniture carving (already several high quality books out there). But wait… a design I LOVE to carve, I have studied many of them, I have carved many of them, and the varieties of styles are endless, and it is an absolutely beautiful design – the ACANTHUS LEAF!
The possibilities truly are endless. As I prepare the layout of the book, I already have enough different topics and designs to fill a second volume (but I must finish the first one 🙂
At first, I thought it might be too narrow of a topic, maybe too obscure – who really cares about acanthus leaves – really? And who even knows what an acanthus leaf is?
Well, my conclusion was this – it is such a historically significant design – both in architecture and furniture. I really felt an obligation to share the knowledge that I have learned as a traditional woodcarver (and stone carver) to keep this wonderfully traditional design alive.
As I started to imagine the layout of the book, the different techniques I would show, and the vast variety of styles of acanthus leaves, the possibilities seemed almost endless – and yes! I started to get really excited about writing this book!
So I am pleased to say I will be working with Christopher Schwarz and John Hoffman of Lost Art Press to publish my first book by fall/winter of 2015. They will be walking me through this adventure (holding my hand?).
When I fall asleep at night I have visions of acanthus leaves dancing in my head!
I’ll be sending periodic email updates about the book.
Follow along as I write my first book.
I will be sending newsletters where I walk people through my experience with this book writing process. Those on the list will get VIP treatment such as opportunities for free things (everybody like FREE things), previews or snippets of part of the book, and opportunities to become involved in the book writing process. Come join in the fun!
Great!!!! you may recall I’m very, very interested in the subject. I’ll love to follow your quest…
I’m also constantly researching it and setting my hands on every bit of information I can find about it.
I’ve just found( and bought!!) a great carving by Peter Hone from England:
which I’m carving just now.
keep it up!
That is a beautiful leaf! I plan on including several designs very similar in my book. Follow my blog and sign up for my monthly newsletter (starting at the end of January) and I’ll be discussing all that will be going into this book.
It never dawned on me that you didn’t already have books published… I’m very excited for your first book next year, I will be buying a copy!
Lots of videos, several magazine articles, but alas – no book yet.
I think it’s about time…
Where does the line form to buy the book? Your work is impressive, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. Good luck.
Thanks Douglas! Sign up for my monthly newsletter (link is at the end of this blog post or on the right of the page under “Follow my Woodcarving Journeys”) and I will let you know when it becomes available to purchase.
Looking forward to the issue of your book. Started carving 3 years ago and enjoy it very much. I greatly admire the Acanthus and hope to add it to future period furniture pieces on my build list.
I’ve never had the privilege of taking one of your classes (yet), but I’m very excited about this book! It will no doubt be a great compliment to your courses – online and in person.
I have an antique applied acanthus carving featured on a leg, very detailed, 17″ long, hand finished, turn of the century or earlier mahogany / on veneers. I was wondering if you’d like to use it to copy? Both sides of the leg have the same applied scroll carving just opposite, which is very nice. I haven’t had a chance to carve it yet, but its really a beautiful piece and is small enough to make an easy project. I believe the legs belonged to a poker table or side table at one time.
Thanks Andrew! I would love to see a photo of this. I will email you directly.
I am so excited, Mary. I can’t wait to get a copy! Looking forward to hearing more. Best wishes on the writing process!
I spent Christmas in the Cleveland Area with my family and was treated to a visit to two places where wood carving abound. The Episcopal Cathedral and the Cleveland Museum of Art. First the Church = it has to be seen to describe but there were acanthus leaves everywhere. The museum = the collection of Early American furniture, French Furniture, and it seemed liked every large frame were designed with the achanture leaft as a prominent feature.
Happy new year.
Isn’t is amazing that once you start looking, the acanthus leaf shows up everywhere. You can see it in every day things like upholstery, curtains, designs on lamps, picture frames. And when you go into a traditional church, it is amazing! I hope you took pictures!