Carving a ball finial

25 January, 2015 – 11:48 am

As a traditionally trained stone mason I get to carve some beautiful and interesting things. For the last couple of weeks I have been working on a pair of Ball Finials with corresponding coping stones.

These are to be built onto the pillars of a low garden wall. Obviously there were scale issues-they couldn’t be too large as they would look out of place but too small and they would look wrong on the coping stone.

Once the size was determined I drew a design for my customers approval and went ahead with ordering the stone. The stone was ordered with the natural bed running vertically (up and down) this is to give the strength to the neck, if the bed is horizontal then there will be a weakness in the neck.

In this case the stone comes from Veizeys Quarry near Tetbury in South Gloucestershire, a very good carving stone when treated properly will last a lifetime. by treated I don’t mean sealing-that is not a good idea but stone like wood seasons if you build with it when it is fresh out of the ground it will suffer with frost damage as it has what is termed quarry sap in the stone. It takes a good couple of years to mature and so I have recommended to my customer not to put them outside until the frosts have finished and to keep them protected for the next couple of winters.

This applies to all stone some season quicker than others.

Once I had the stone, I used the template that I had made and applied it to all surfaces with a simple circle to the diameter of the ball on the top, from here I could determine where to put my saw cuts and start to mason the stone.

There are many ways to carve a Ball Finial and this is not actually the method I was taught at college but with the extensive skill and knowledge I have gleaned from one source or another and just sheer practice I have developed the method I think works the best for me.

As a stonemason becomes more competent we are able to trust our eyes more, a ruler becomes something to mark with at the beginning and check with at the end rather than something to be relied upon, and in this instance I am able to trust my eyes to carve a sphere, the reverse template is something I use to check that the surface of the sphere before I join all the lines up. As an apprentice you will rely on these templates a lot more and don’t worry it will take some time but your eye will come in!

The coping stones were carved with a corresponding cavetto around the edge rather than just a plain chamfer to echo the cavetto in the neck of the Ball Finials. They also have a drip on the underside to help prevent the water from running down the surface of the wall.




Commissions for 2015

11 January, 2015 – 1:54 pm

Happy New year everyone, thank you for visiting my website and I hope you will take time to have a good look around.

Over the past 12mths I have been getting steadily busier which is great news as I enter my 10th year in business, this does mean however that I now have an 8 week waiting list.

If you have an idea for something then by all means get in touch as I can interpret your design into a stone carving ensuring that I pair the idea with the right stone. Alternatively you can leave the designing to me, whether it is some imaginative lettering or a sculpture to ornament your home and garden.

To start the year off I will be carving some Ball Finials for a garden wall feature, some house names and numbers and a Barn Owl as she is coming into land. As well as keeping my shop fully stocked and getting on with my latest sculpture ideas.

You will be pleased to hear that I am organising the stone carving festival in Gloucester again please visit www.stonecarvingfestival for more information. I will be carving an Elephant this year for the raffle prize & tickets will go on sale in March.

Look forward to hearing from you, Thanks,



Closures, News and Sculptures!

29 December, 2014 – 3:43 pm

Well I have been floored by a particularly nasty virus which had gone to my ears, so I am sorry I won’t be open this week. I have a holiday booked for next week so I will re-open on the 12th Jan.

Due to this horrible cold hitting me before Christmas I was unable to get to the quarry to pick up my stone order so I will be doing that on the 12th-with this in mind I will be late in to open my shop-fighting fit and ready to carve!

I thought you might like to see the latest photos of my sculpture that I am currently working on.

I have some very interesting commissions to get on with on my return including a pair of Ball Finials (for gate posts) lots of letter cutting, a Barn owl carving a relief in landing mode! I also have some technical drawing to get on with for some new carvings which will be for sale in my shop!

My stone carving festival returns to The Llanthony Secunda Priory for a second time and I will update the website as I have news for you.


Ideas for Christmas gifts

14 December, 2014 – 10:44 am

I have been working very hard to bring you some lovely gifts for Christmas or to ornament your home and garden

I have a selection of carvings from a simple design using Holly and Ivy to complicated knotwork on pillar candle holders. Prices range from £4 for a delicate little heart etched in a piece of Welsh slate up to several thousand for a more elaborate piece of beautiful sculpture.

I have designed several new candle holders and words to embellish your home and make a unique gift for your friends and family.

I hope you like what you see and this is the tip of the iceberg as I have jewellery more bookends and plenty more designs yet to be carved.

Have a very Happy Christmas and I hope to see you soon.


What’s the question? A new sculpture in Tetbury limestone.

16 November, 2014 – 8:45 pm

Have been fired up by my disappointment at a recent visit to a sculpture exhibition I have started a new sculpture which I want to engage and excite the viewer.

My first aim was to design a carving that is now, not a Greek inspired Roman goddess or a Barbara Hepworth/Henry Moore rip off.

Secondly to engage and provoke without shock-why does sculpture have to shock? and  finally a clothed figure-it’s actually harder to carve a fully clothed figure as I have to make you think that there is a body underneath.

I am tired of seeing the same old sculptures and I hope that my new sculpture will make you look and wonder what she is saying? What is the question?

My design is a young modern woman wearing boot cut jeans and DM boots. Her hair is a plait over one shoulder and she is gesturing with one hand up and the other hand is in her pocket. Her weight is on one hip giving tension and movement and an interesting twist to her body, any minute now she is going to shift her weight to the other foot and continue her conversation. She is engaged with you-the viewer and what you are talking about is up to you!

Obviously there is a lot of work to do still this represents about a weeks hard work! I am carving limestone from Veizeys Quarry in Tetbury and it is 3ft x 11 x 11 inches. So about half life size.

The design is from my imagination and I did the drawing after I started my carving to cement the idea and give myself and the viewer an idea of what I am trying to achieve!