18-Year-Old Wood Carving of "The Last Supper" Gets Touched Up

(SIOUX CITY, IA) A rare, wood carving of Leonardo DaVinci's famous "last supper" got a touch up today. The carver himself came to its permanent home at Trinity Heights Queen of Peace in Sioux City to doctor up his life-sized sculpture.

Leonardo Da Vinci's painting of the last supper Jesus shared with his apostles is one of the most famous pieces of art in history and this life-sized carving of the painting is 1 of only 4 in the entire world.

"I wasn't sure I could carve this. I just started," said Jerry Traufler, the artist behind this wood carving.

Traufler's from Le Mars and 18 years ago he decided to take on a task far bigger than he even expected.

"I told my wife I'd carve that first guy there, that's Bartholomew. If I goof that up and it didn't turn out I'd quit, I'd do something else. I said if it turns out then I'm going to make the whole thing and it turned out so I made the whole thing," he said.

$5,000 worth of wood went into making the rare sculpture. Friends posed as the apostles so Traufler could individualize each one. He says he built the entire thing in a shed in his backyard.

"I worked from 4 in the morning until 1 o'clock so when I got home I could go out into the shop and work till 10, 11 at night," he said.

That's right folks, he built this in between his full-time job. Took him 7 years to complete and for the last 18 years it's been at Trinity Heights Queen of Peace in Sioux City where people from all over visit.

"It's just really fun to be here when they walk in that door because you hear the oo, ahh and they're just... we had a woman and she said I've traveled all over the world and this is the most beautiful piece of art. She was just amazed," said Mary Stevens, Director of St. Joseph's Center-Museum.

The touch-ups began Friday morning. Jerry and a few people helped re-glaze the 13-piece sculpture. Each character is carved out of basswood and pine with a chisel and mallet and weighs between 200-300 pounds. Traufler says he's proud of his work.

"They're good. They're as good as I ever figured I could get it. You never know, but without talking to other people who have made one you're kind of just teaching yourself as you go. So, I made some mistakes, but I won't tell you where they are..."

The carving is on-display for free at the Trinity Heights St. Joseph Center-museum. Visit for hours of operation.