I had a site visit today to check some measurements for a plaque I’m designing, and enjoyed looking at the exquisite carving and detailing there. There was a lot of Hopton Wood limestone larger columns and Derbyshire fossil stone pillars, also lots of exotic marble. These pictures show some of the sculpture and materials.
London design fair coming up, it’d be nice to see you there
Here are a few examples of laser-cut stainless steel lettering designs:
These designs are created using my own true-type fonts. I make a design and layout which I then convert to a path. This is a vector outline that can then be edited. This looks a bit like this:
These designs can then be scaled and laser-cut at any size. As you can see from the “may the circle be unbroken” design, I have made these at 30cm diameter and up to 1200mm diameter on the barn.
Our show entitled ‘texture’ is getting quite a lot of support in the press recently. It started with the real spiderman in Norwich, this was then noticed by Beyoncé, who was shopping in Anglia Square, and local hero Ed Sheeran was also passing through. Then Justin Bieber jumped on the bandwagon, but went a step further (perhaps he got a little carried away) I do admire his spontaneity, but wonder if he’ll regret including the dates after the event. I wonder who will be the next celebrity to support us!?
I’ve been experimenting with digital design and this piece was designed for an exhibition in the Hostry at Norwich Cathedral in May. Here’s a sneaky preview.
I’ll be showing this wall-mountable piece which is 60cm diameter, with metal pins in the back, and a smaller hanging version (below) at 30cm diameter, which could go on a wall or in a window. I hope you like them.
I installed a candelabra on Christmas eve that I designed and worked on with Brian Turner, a lead worker (‘plumber’). He made the body of the candelabra and designed and made many of the components. There was a lot of problem solving for him produce the finished article from my initial sketches. The stone base was carved in Kilkenny limestone, the rest was iron and copper, with many of the elements hand shaped. The piece was commissioned by Margaret Broad in memory of her husband Peter. Here are a few pictures:
Well I was up early to check the size on the plaque mentioned in the last post. The size (or glue) was 12 hour, and when I checked it at 10 hours it was ready to go. Humidity and room temperatures make the timing a little unpredictable with gilding. If you put the gold on too early it wrinkles up and looks awful, put it on too late and it won’t stick. The trick to it is to check regularly, and put plenty of test patches on as you go. Then to check the size, you lightly press your knuckle or finger joint on the test patch, and lift, listening carefully. If it’s not ready you’ll lift off and feel a stringiness and stickiness, but no noise, if it’s good to go then you’ll hear a definite click as you lift off, and if you’re too late then you’ll get nothing……….and you’ll have to put another coat on. So here are some pictures of working towards the finished piece. The plaque will be blessed on September 14th and then installed once the building work is finished. Then I can photograph it in situ……….in about 18 months time.
Having installed work in Oxford last week, me and my assistant Dan visited Coventry Cathedral on the way to another job in Liverpool. The cathedral is a place I have wanted to visit for years, primarily to see the lettering work there designed and cut by Ralph Beyer and his assistant Michael Watson. The current Cathedral was designed by Sir Basil Spense and built between 1955-62. It is situated right next to the medieval cathedral that was bombed in 1940. The first few photographs below (apologies for the quality, they were taken on my phone) show Ralph’s ‘Tablets of the Word’ which are White Hollington Sandstone (as opposed to the red of the exterior) measuring 15 feet wide x 6 feet tall.
There is a lot of debate about the quality of workmanship of these tablets. I have met Ralph and been to talks by him and I am still somewhat undecided. It is clear from these tablets that the design and layout are very free, and that is refreshing, and it is clear that the carving is far from perfect. From my formally trained point of view, with my makers eye they seem poorly carved and there is little consistency regarding the spacing and quality of line and depth of cut. However, I find them very powerful. Whenever I see Ralph’s work I find it challenges me. On one level I find myself reacting along the lines of “well, the spacing is shocking and the carving timid, inconsistent and poorly executed” and yet in a way this adds to their humanity. We are not perfect. I naturally carve quite deeply myself and am always striving to achieve a sharp definite outline and flow to my lettering, with no ambiguity. Had I carved these I wonder would they have been too overpowering, is the feeling of frailty in the making of these almost a strength. I am always in two minds about this with Ralph’s inscriptions, and yet having seen them in the flesh and stood on the concrete seating below (sorry!) to have a really good look up close (see below) I still come away feeling that they are moving despite the way they are carved. Are they rubbish or are they brilliant? On the whole I like the freedom in the design and the simplicity of the linear carvings, and like the overall ‘feel’ of them but the carving does bother me a bit if I’m honest, I can’t help that. I am really keen on them though. I know that Spense encouraged Ralph to make the lettering bigger and bolder after seeing initial drawings, and Ralph reluctantly did this, initially at least. Ralph says of the inscriptions that he wished “to evolve letter-forms and symbols in the language of the art of this century. To give letters, words, sentences a fresh vitality, greater force, and to express their meaning with the utmost urgency”. He was a modernist, in a way rebelling against the arts and crafts style, there are no intricate flourishes here, and yet we know he was inspired by the ‘naive’ early Christian graffiti in the Roman catacombs which had interested his historian father. I think these carvings work in an almost emotional way, despite my critical makers eye.
There are other works here by Ralph, a mixture of inscriptions and metal lettering set into the floor. See below for more pictures of these. It is interesting to me that there is a lot more ‘definition’ in Ralph’s floor pieces here, as the outline of the metal cannot be ambiguous in the way it is on some of the inscriptions. The two materials create a starker contrast. I particularly like the smaller stainless steel letters.