Thursday, 3 January 2019

Small Portland Monument

Been working on this unusual piece in Portland limestone straight after the wretchedly hard Moleanos stuff previously. It took a concerted effort to soften my strikes! s

Monday, 17 December 2018

More Progress

Once again I'm amazed at what this place has done for me.

Today as I began work I found myself feeling somewhat gloomy and I couldn't for the life of me think why. I was getting stuck in to a job that had been growing on me for weeks, but the feeling was like a malevolent tick. But suddenly it struck me. In the past I've worked in various roles, many of which I hadn't liked at the time. During these unpleasant hours I'd drifted off somewhere in my own head, just to get things done. I had begun to slink back into my old habits when I had no need to. There was no invisible Sword of Damocles, no other shoe to drop. Another pleasant day at work held no unpleasant surprises for me, and what unpleasant surprises there are in stonecarving are remarkably pleasant in comparison to anything else I've had to deal with before. As soon as I dropped my habitual defenses all was as it should be, and I experienced such a profound elation that it was difficult not to grin stupidly at an inanimate piece of stone.

Just a few days ago I had the privelege to hear Ewan Clayton deliver a lecture on an upcoming exhibition, and have since been siezed by an even madder enthusiasm for all things calligraphy. I met a great many kind and wonderful people as well, whose aquaintence I shall also treasure.


Monday, 3 December 2018

Progress Report

Since beginning this journey I am consistently amazed at the new wonders I'm experiencing every day.

For instance the Portuguese limestone I've been carving recently is hard and resistant to work, but comes up with beautiful crisp letters, and with enough depth and the right lighting the shadows within the cuts on the white stone are magnificent.

To cut to the chase I'm beginning to appreciate the different ways letters move in stone, and they do move. Spacing, depth, shape, all of these things contrive to create movement within meaning. A flow to the letters. I've seen good work done with more industrial methods like sandblasting, and for many jobs it's adequate, but even the best cannot in no way compete with the life imbued in hand cut lettering, and indeed this is what connoisseurs of good stonework are glad to pay for.

Once again I feel the need to extend my sincere thanks to the Lettering Arts Trust. I can never thank them enough for their benevolence and kindness in issuing me their Journeyman Grant, which has already allowed me to pay for an excellent calligraphy course with the famous Gaynor Goffe. My teacher has encouraged me to study calligraphy as it will aid my understanding of how letters move and flow and seem almost alive, which is one of the secrets to great lettering. I'll be going in April so there will be plenty to see here in the meantime, but I'll be sure to post my efforts when the time comes.


Monday, 19 November 2018

Cotswolds Bowl

A modest oval bowl being worked from a piece of Cotswolds limestone. Lovely stuff to work with, soft to begin but develops a hardened outer layer when exposed to the elements over time, and also darkens in colour. This one also had lovely veins of calcite crystal running through it, formed when the stone cracks and calcium leeches from the surrounding stone into the new void.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Greshams Chapel Memorial Plaque

I've walked past Greshams school more times than I can remember, yet inside the premises is even more spectacular than I could have imagined. An atmosphere of quiet dignified order hangs over the buildings and grounds, and this is not simply me playing on stereotypes. Just from looking one can tell this is a place of quiet excellence, and it was a sincere pleasure to be able to look around as we went about our work.

The work however was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences I've ever... experienced. The manual lift made the most awful metallic cracking sounds as it took the load and the plaque itself swung terrifyingly. But once it was securely pinned in place the satisfaction was the far greater emotion.

Monday, 29 October 2018

St. Marys' Memorial Fixing


Taken some time to sit down and write this, but here's a record of a very successful visit to St. Marys' church in north London. A beautiful Victorian brick structure in a wonderful state of preservation. Loved it as soon as I saw it, an airy space laden with a sparse, precious spirituality. The large icon above the chancel struck me dumb as the afternoon light shone over the image of Christ.

Aside from my goggling at the building we also had some fixing to do. The memorial was not as heavy as some we've been asked for, but due to the pronounced tripartite shape was somewhat more delicate, and delicately handling a stone plaque is an exercise in both endurance and patience. This however made eventual success all the more rewarding. My thanks to the kind clergy, trust members and caretakers who recieved and looked after us so warmly. Pictures to follow!


Pit stop!
Boss making some adjustments

Beautiful St. Marys'

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Small Boulder Monument

Note: The designs of all work shown here are the property of their creator. I'm doing the lettercutting to his specifications.

As soon as I was welcomed into the workshop I was given tasks to do, to both test my own proficiency and give me an idea of the differences between the focussed lettering work and my own experience. Immediately I was enjoying myself. Being able to focus entirely on making a letter breathe, give it a life and potency all of its own, was something entirely enthralling. Fighting the stone in order to work something fine and delicate within an unyielding and rebellious surface, and leaving within the letter an even pattern of crisp, clear tooling, even within the finest lines.

All of these things are but a small portion of the pleasures of lettercutting, and the more mason-like work of cutting out the shapes of the headstones is yet another world of enjoyment. Although my current skills are still quite fresh, I already have some ideas for the kind of monuments I want to create in the future. When I began learning the craft I had to do things according to the proscribed method, as everyone does and indeed -must- if they are to get anywhere. But gradually one begins to adapt these things, and so adapt ones own body and working methods to the material. In this way perhaps the stone wins the battle. But I digress. As time goes by, I find myself liberated by this work. One is forced to consider oneself in relation to the work, and gradually you begin to impose your own will on the world around you, as you do with your stone. You start building yourself up, as you build monuments.

Still getting the hang of writing a blog, and I've a tendency towards over-voluminious writing. Will sort it out eventually.


Small Portland Monument

Been working on this unusual piece in Portland limestone straight after the wretchedly hard Moleanos stuff previously. It took a concerted e...