Letter carving and Gilding

12 May, 2017 – 12:26 pm

I have been very productive in the last few weeks as you can see.

The carving in the foreground is the Sun altar that I have been commissioned to carve. I have just applied the 23&3/4 carat Gold leaf. There are several other pieces of Forest of Dean sandstone in the background which have also just received this treatment.

Some of the letter carving that I have carried out only has paint on it so far but once they are gilded they really stand out.

There are also a few I haven’t got round to carving yet and as you can see my slate spirals on my bench although it is progressing well has been put on the back burner in favour of another carving I have been developing in Magnesium limestone from Yorkshire. 

What an exciting and interesting time it is for me at the moment. The icing on the cake would be to be given the commission to carve the new War Memorial for Mitcheldean & Abenhall Parish. 


Hand carved commissions. Have a go sessions and my sculptures

1 May, 2017 – 9:01 am

3wks of Easter holiday really knocks the wind out of me, running my stone carving activities is an incredibly rewarding experience but very tiring. The most memorable ‘have a go-ee’ was a small girl possibly 6yrs old, very quiet and struggled at first with the mallet and chisel but once she had got the hang of it and her hand eye co-ordination was set she couldn’t be stopped. A future stonemason? who can tell but the fact she tried it and seemed to love it is enough for me. At that age new experiences are the most important part of learning and to have the opportunity to try out things children or adults wouldn’t normally get to try is extremely important and thanks to the kind of childhood I had is probably why I am where I am today.

My creativity knows no bounds and I can’t keep up with my ideas. I have several sketchbooks on the go at the moment and 6 different stone carvings. A medieval face which I am carving in St Bees sandstone from Cumbria, it is a beautiful red sandstone, very dense and hard but it is slightly easier to carve than some of the Forest of dean sandstones. I am working on a piece of Welsh slate which is a spiral design drawn using geometry, A piece of Caen limestone from Normandy, which is hard and dense a lovely honey colour, this I am carving another head but using two spirals almost like two galaxies colliding. Talking of galaxies one of my pieces which will hold water as that is an important part of the design has beautiful patterns running through it, it is a piece of red Forest of Dean Sandstone from the now mothballed Wilderness quarry in Mitcheldean, this is inspired by the spiralling storms and swirls on Jupiter. On a different vein, a piece in Portland limestone one of the rejected designs for my Highgate commission, I am carving this as a sculpture in the round and a relief in a piece of marble. All of these projects represent my idea threads, some old and some just forming.

I haven’t heard any news on the War Memorial proposal that I submitted but fingers crossed.

This development of my ideas is a important part of the process of learning and improving my carving skills. I am not the best, yet but with each new carving my ideas mature, my understanding of the raw material grows, my carving technique and ability to carve what is in my head improves. 

My commissions are coming in thick and fast now so my waiting list is now 10wks. I am currently working on a Sun Altar in Portland limestone a selection of house names and numbers and a wedding present and a new design for my Loch Ness commissions.  If you have an idea that you would like to discuss I am happy to make a rough sketch design for you and we can discuss your needs further. I continue to make new items for my shop so as soon as these are ready I will post some photos here.

Thank you for reading, hope to see you at my studio soon.


Inspired by space

6 April, 2017 – 12:07 pm

This is a work in progress, I am carving it out of Mitcheldean sandstone.

I have been inspired by the beautiful planets that we share our Solar System with. This is the first carving in my latest series.

When the stone is wet and polished it has beautiful bed lines of varying tones which add an extra dimension of beauty to the carving. 


My latest projects and commissions

22 March, 2017 – 8:21 pm

I have been busy hand carving many different types of stones into some interesting sculptures, house names and memorials.

When carrying out commissions it is important for me to be able to communicate my ideas to people but also to make sure that I have understood the requirements of my customers. These drawings show the designs that I used for the commission to carve some relief carvings which will be built into a house near Loch Ness in Scotland. The property once belonged to a member of Led Zeppelin so my customer wanted me to use the idea of The Hermit an image used on one of their album covers. Obviously I wasn’t going to copy this design or use the original but interpret them using my skill as a designer and also inject my unique imagination. Thor’s Hammer design was again my own design in so much as I studied the original shape and used the myth of the Loch Ness monster in the design. Having carved many types of knot-work from a variety of historic sources I was able to design my own to fit the shape. I used Portland limestone as it has a dense texture making it ideal for this method of carving it is also a good weathering stone. The gold leaf was applied to the star, lamp and radiating areas of the Hermit carving.

I have also included drawing s for my next commission, an 8 pointed sun on a pedestal, the stone is Portland limestone.

This set of drawings also show an ongoing proposal for a War Memorial. I was approached 2yrs ago to develop a design for Mitcheldean and Abenhall Parish, unfortunately the communication went quiet and I thought nothing more of it. Just before Christmas I was approached again to see if I would like to re-visit this idea. While I don’t have this commission I am putting in quite a lot of effort to provide scale drawings, costings and sourcing the raw materials in order to provide a realistic price. If I was to be awarded this commission it would take me 6mths and be carved out of Portland limestone a stone synonymous with War Memorials around the country.

I developed the design around a piece of Mitcheldean Sandstone that I was saving for a worthy commission, which is the centre piece for this window design. It features a 1st and 2nd World War soldier carved in relief, a great deal of letter cutting and some architectural masonry which will compliment it’s surroundings. At the moment I am constructing a 1/4 scale drawing and I have a full scale drawing on my wall which enabled me to check detail and scale in order to price the raw material up.

Recently I took my annual holiday to Centerparcs in Longleat this is a great source of inspiration in the trees and the plants. The drawings here were made during our visit to the sub-tropical swimming paradise, lots of lovely architectural plants. The low light drawing may look like nothing more than a scribble but all drawing is important in order to keep my eyes trained to interpret what I see and then draw it .

These photos show some of the recent letter cutting commissions in their differing forms. Hillside Cottage is just painted on some slate that my customer bought in for me to carve. Nags Head Barn is carved and remained unpainted, my customers provided me with the piece of stone and wanted me to leave as much of the moss intact. As I was carving onto a weathered surface, the cut letters offered enough contrast and so didn’t need picking out with a colour.
‘In the Nik of time’ is a memorial carved in a piece of Forest of Dean sandstone, it is a corner of an old flagstone, I have sanded the surface and once I have finished painting the lettering I will sand the surface again. When I drew out the rough layout for my customer to approve I did so in a yellow pencil so when I asked what colour she would like the lettering painted she chose yellow as it looked nice.

A commission is an evolving process, one which starts with the right piece of stone, a font and layout that will compliment the idea and finally a finish, unpainted often looks nicest but if it is a house sign then it needs to be seen and so painting the lettering makes the design stand out and therefore makes it visible. The choice therefore is paint or Gold leaf the latter being the most durable but then it may not suit the characteristic of the property or indeed the customers personality. Generally I draw out the design directly onto the stone but sometimes I need to offer several alternatives so drawing out onto paper is the best options but sometimes the commission doesn’t come to fruition, a customer may change their mind.

The S with the butterfly is an example of working to a budget, the Cat’s name was Snarf and he loved to eat Cabbage White Butterflies however to carve the name would have exceeded the budget but by personalising the commission with the butterfly it actually had a greater impact and remained within budget.
Purdy is a commission for a Cat’s memorial. Hunter’s Lodge and The Retreat are for the same commission, this is one that I had done a prior drawing for as the stone type hadn’t yet been chosen. The memorials for the dogs were to replace ceramic ones, these were carved in Forest of Dean sandstone and the customer chose red paint which really suits the stone.
Charli is a memorial for a dog carved in Forest of Dean sandstone, they had a photos of the impression of Charli’s footprint so I was able to carve this into the memorial.

Finally the last set of photos show a recent commission for a 30th Wedding anniversary celebration, my customer had some ideas about what they wanted and I was able to incorporate my designs from a series I am working on inspired by an exhibition of Ice Age sculpture, this was carved in a fine piece of Tetbury limestone.
The letter cutting isn’t finished yet but it is for a Ruby Wedding Anniversary celebration, I will paint the date Ruby red , gild the interlocking Wedding rings and paint their names the colour of cream/yellow Freesias, the flowers they had on their wedding day. The slate is from Delabole in Cornwall, where my customers are from.



Commission to hand carve a Poppy bowl

1 March, 2017 – 1:45 pm

This commission is in memory of a loved one. I made a drawing which was approved by my customers and so the carving was started.

I chose the stone because it has beautiful fossils these opened up to reveal stunning geodes of calcite crystals.

The only way to create a bowl with this section is to work through this process and therefore it takes about 35hrs to create.

Obviously the calcite crystals pose quite a problem as they are very hard and therefore must be carved with more care.

Once I had completed the shape I sanded the stone using files and rifflers and finished the inside of the bowl with a radiating tooling.