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Sometimes represented naturalistically, sometimes highly stylized, the iconic form of the acanthus leaf appears as a motif in Western architecture and decorative arts dating back to ancient Greece. In this book, May, a renowned master of traditional carving, traces the history of the design from a carver's perspective.

She begins with an overview of methods and tools, placing emphasis on accurate drawings based on the same geometry that was used to render the curves and spirals in historic examples. The 13 skill-building carving projects are presented in order of difficulty, each adding layers of complexity to techniques established in earlier lessons. Projects include a basic Roman-era leaf, followed by Italian Renaissance, Scandinavian, Greek, Rococo and Baroque versions, along with instructions on adding acanthus ornamentation to cabriole legs, turnings and other workpieces.

An exhaustive study of this classic carved form, the book is filled with practical tips, hundreds of photos and illustrations, as well as personal anecdotes that shed light on May's groundbreaking career.

Hardcover, 8 3/4" × 11 1/4", 315 pages, 2017.

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