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.
We installed a stone in Aldborough the other day, and it was a chance to see some of my previous commissions there, some of which are shown below. They vary considerably in style, design and materials. I have used all my own fonts on these, hand drawn and hand carved. I hope you like them, the older stones are starting to weather nicely now.
The stone above was a memorial to a friend who ran Aldborough antique shop. The stone has references to some of his furniture and the bell that was attached to his door and rang upon entry. I miss Terry, he was a real character. He was always giving things to my kids…..
Here are a few more
Above is a York stone memorial showing the front and back of the stone. Marianne was a Moari, and the symbolism on the stone reflects her ancestry. The raised carving of the Koru on the front was copied from a bone pendant she wore and the fern carving on the back symbolises new life, growth, strength and peace.
This stone above was to a local woman of German descent, and the design and lettering was created to give a Germanic feel to the stone. I designed and drew these letters specifically for this commission. It’s weathering beautifully.
Above are two more York stone memorials, one featuring a lily carving and another an Ethiopian cross.
This wonderful piece of stone was one I came across in a quarry in Wales. I knew Alan, he was a lovely lad, a keen fisherman. The stripes made me think of water.
Above, another piece of York stone, carved on both sides as you can see. Words by Mother Julian of Norwich adorn the back with an early Christian inspired depiction of incised doves on the back, complimenting the relief carvings on the front.
This one is Welsh slate. Penny was my friend and neighbour and was very into her flowers. She was a lovely woman, missed by many. Working with slate gives a very different effect, it’s more akin to illustration than sculpture. The sharpness of the lettering and level of detail that can be achieved in slate is very challenging and rewarding.
This last image shows a cross made using Nabresina limestone. I quite like the simplicity of this, and the subtle bluey colour of the paint.
Dan, my assistant, and I have been working in Ireland for a few days and covering a fair few miles.
Last Autumn, coincidentally I was asked by three clients to carve memorials in Ireland. They seemed to be struggling to find designer makers in Ireland making this kind of hand carved work. I was able to orchestrate things so we could bring them over and install them together. We both love Ireland, the music and landscape and Dan’s uncle lives in Kerry, so we popped across to see him too.
Our first stop was Clandeboye cemetery in Bangor, near Belfast, where we installed this Welsh slate memorial.
We stayed in the Cairn Bay Lodge B&B which was really good with amazing views and food. In the afternoon we drove to the Giant’s Causeway, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.
We then had an evening in Belfast, ending up in The Points watching champion fiddler Niall Mcclean.
The next job was down in Kilkenny, but we decided to go via Connemara to check out the marble. We saw a bit but the yards were closed. We saw huge quarry blocks that were ratchet-strapped to stop them falling apart, which was alarming. It’s mainly green and riddled with cracks. I was told that it’s soaked in glue prior to sawing it in order to strengthen it. Nevertheless it’s quite attractive.
The next job was for a couple in Kilkenny. The stone was Mountcharles Sandstone from Donegal. This looks similar to Yorkstone but seemed twice as heavy and was harder to work. The carved element was inspired by a ring. I carved it in a panel, but also raised it beyond the level of the face of the stone, by starting off with a raised circle. This enabled me to make it bolder and for it not to appear to be sunk into the stone.
We then visited a local stonemason who generously took us to see the Kilkenny limestone quarry in Paulstown. This was awesome. It’s vast.
The clients took us out for a lovely meal and drinks in Kilkenny city, which is a really nice place.
The next day, we moved on to Enniskerry to install a Yorkstone memorial for Katy French. She was a model, celebrity and charity worker well known in Ireland. The tree of life carving is a simplified version of one I carved some years ago.
After a night in Stillorgan (!) We headed off to Dublin to explore, and it was during gay pride, so the city was vibrant, to say the least. We ended up in Devitts Bar watching a great duo, including a wonderful squeezebox player called Neil Harney. Here’s a snippet taken as my phone died.
We then headed west for the rest of the time, enjoying Kenmare and the Kerry/Cork region. One highlight was seeing Dan’s cousin Aisling Urwin play harp and sing. She’s so talented. Her voice is angelic and her playing sublime. She’s about to tour Europe and America over the coming months so keep an ear out for her.
It was interesting to see how there seems to be very few carvers in Ireland and how there’s a demand for well designed, hand carved bespoke memorials. I’m looking forward to coming over again.
I was working in Kimberley church in Norfolk this week, adding some lettering to a large marble plaque, and was very taken by this wonderful 17th century floor plaque……
HEARE LIETH ANN THE WIFE OF EDMVND WODEHOUSE OF EAST LEXHAM ESQ THE ONELY CHILD OF JOHN ANGVISH OF GRAT MELTON ESQ AN OBEDIENET DAVGHTER TENDERLY LOVING WIFE & MOTHER AND A DISRETT MISTRESE DYED THE 28 OF JULY ANNO DIMMIN 1685
There are several interesting elements to this – firstly the spelling stands out. Clearly, language has evolved in the last 333 years, but there may have been some ‘freedom’ or lack of clarity as to the correct spelling even then. I have seen some of these variants before (such as HEARE, ONELY) but GRAT (for Great) and OBEDIENET seem quite Chaucerian. I particularly like ANNO DIMMIN (for Domini) and DISRETT MISTRESE ~ is that a discreet mistress? I think it may be ‘District mistress’ some sort of role in society, but I can’t get any further than that by searching online. I welcome any comments on this.
As for the lettering style, I think it’s gorgeous. It is linear and mono-weight (no variation in weight such as you would see in brush-derived letterforms like Roman or calligraphic lettering). I particularly like the H in HEARE, the lush W’s, the X, the C in CHILD, the D in DYED, T in TENDERLY, the J in JULY, the 5 and those lovely little triangles above the (upper case!) I’s. Also the ligatures (where letters are joined as in the first THE) are delightful and the A’s are interesting – where they start the word they are embellished with a flourish, but within a word they’re simple.
London design fair coming up, it’d be nice to see you there
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 was in the cathedral in my local city recently and had to pass by this stone, an old favourite. This photo was taken on my phone so not great quality but I think you can get the gist of it! Make the most of your day!!
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.
I have been working on a plaque for Wymondham Abbey, this will be like a foundation stone, albeit applied after the building is finished, in about 18 months time. The stone is Westmorland slate, from Honister mine. I’ve taken a few pictures to show the stages of painting and gilding it. I’m putting the gold leaf on tomorrow morning and will show final pictures tomorrow. So the paint is flooded into the lettering and then sanded back afterwards. This is the quickest and most successful way of ensuring full coverage. See below. The sanding with wet and dry paper is really exciting, seeing the lettering emerge. The last picture shows the gold size, and the leaf will be applied in the morning. Thanks for looking.