Sunday, 26 September 2010

Lettercutting in Stone

Lettercutting is an intricate and delicate process - I ran a lettercutting course last week and a real concentration and care emanated from every tap of the mallet and cut of the chisel.  Certainly you get to feel the very character, texture and every grain of the stone being worked.

This is the beautiful Lingmoor stone I'm currently working.  It is an exciting stone, with its swirls of colour and sparkle - and just a bit tricky on occasion with softer patches and hard quartzy beads.

When lettering I first prepare the stone, by polishing to a good flat surface and then mark out the letters to be cut. 

Through this process I get to know quite a lot about the piece, and this helps when incising the letters.

Then steadily the carving begins.  I use a dummy mallet and tungsten-tipped chisels and have a small kit of varying widths - which I treasure.  Then I'm lost for hours and hours in the intricacies of the letter T or N, right in the heart of the stone in pursuit of craftsmanship.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Light Fantastic

Over the last week or so, the brilliant sunshine, turning to deep grey skies and torrential downpours, then back to bright skies, has been fantastic.  Everything bathed on glorious light, moody, shiny with wonderful colour casts.  Stone looks magnificent in this light and I've been trying to get good photographs of my sculpture captured in this atmosphere. 

This was sunrise, a view from my workshop, I hardly dare take my eyes away as it quickly evapourated in front of me - a vanishing pearl making way for the colour of the day.

The photography didn't go so well and although everything appeared beautiful, I was unable to capture it.

At lunchtime I walked up onto the moor, to photograph the heather before it turned.  I'm working Lingmoor stone at the moment, and it has purple coloured bands, with buff, brown and grey marking (purple staining from the heather) - rich and royal and alive in the sunshine.

Just through the gate onto the moor, I say hello to the Lastingham stone - which I carved as a marker for the village - here it is photographed by John Potter from York - who is a professional photographer and who is a wonder at landscapes.  He is helping me be a bit more useful with my camera.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Workshop in Hinderwell

Monday was an unusual day for me - I travelled across the moors to the Old School Room in Hinderwell where I attended a workshop being held by Gail Hurst.  Gail is an accomplished artist and we exhibit together at the Inspired By Gallery at the National Parks Centre in Danby.  But on this day I was stepping into the unknown (for me) - a world of paint and pastels.  Gail gave a short demonstration to the group, working freely and swiftly, dextrously weaving delicate watercolour marks of exquisite colour, and huge wide confident sweeps of paint texture accross the paper in turn.  Her work is joyful and lively and very soon we were all encouraged to take our own painterly steps.

I confess to making a very tentative start and had to keep turning my paper over.  Gail administered guidance and I began to learn how to use a swordliner (paintbrush) and guide the paint, though not quite as magically as my tutor!

I had to concentrate very hard, and what was made to look easy in the demonstration proved awkward and difficult to replicate.  I was encouraged to mix paint and pastel, work with my fingers, blend and smooth tones of colour and experiment with the brushes and sticks of pastel.  I was exhausted by the close of day and had two very small, unfinished drawings to show for it.  Thanks Gail - I need a lot of practice!

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