In my last post about my alphabet, I had just finished carving and was ready to bring the project to a conclusion by painting the letters.
When painting carved letters, there are generally two ways of doing it: painting within the lines really carefully or flood painting the letters (careful to evenly coat the letters up and over the outlines, then the excess paint is sanded off leaving paint in the recesses of the letters). As the stone I was using wasn’t overly pourous, and the letters were fairly big, I chose the latter option.
The colors I chose were also influenced by Eric Gill, though from a different piece of carving. While in the village of Trumpington (just outside of Cambridge), I visited the local church where I saw a wall memorial carved by Gill. As the stone has always been inside, the original paint was not only present but in very good condition. I was immediately by take the dark navy and red combo, and both my teacher Eric and I thought it would look right at home on my piece of nabresina. I had originally toyed with the idea of gilding the numbers in my alphabet, but that was put aside once I saw how great the dark red and blue worked together: present and bold while still remaining a bit understated. And so, I set to preparing the stone for painting!
I spent a fair amount of time mixing my two colors and testing them on a stone sample. I was happy that I took the time to do this, as it’s amazing how differently the color of paints can dry.
After getting the colors right, I painted several thick coats into the letters, letting each coat dry thoroughly before applying another.
It looks a bit messy - until I sand it off!
The only thing left to do was to sand off the excess paint with wet/dry sand paper and a wooden block. It’s always very satisfying (and a bit nerve-wrecking) sanding it off to see what’s left underneath. Happily, all the time and care I spent carving really payed off and there weren’t any nasty surprises for me.
After a bit of neatening up, my stone was done! Completing this stone was not only a real labor of love, but also a tremendous learning experience. Eric really helped to steer me in the right direction with this project, and it stands as a true, tangible signpost of the progress I’ve made as a letter-carving apprentice.
I hope you’ve enjoyed following the progress of my alphabet as much as I’ve had sharing it. Now onto to the next one!