Over the past few months I’ve learned a lot; and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. With so many skills to master and a full dock of work on the move, the idea of jumping into doing paid work was a little intimidating.
I, of course, have been involved with helping out on paid work since day one, but taking charge of a project is a different matter. So when my teacher Eric offered to let me do the gravestone of a cat, I jumped at it like...well, a cat. Here was the opportunity to make a gravestone in its entirety, but in miniature. This not only made the process more manageable in practical terms, but also a bit less intimidating. Plus, the fact that this was a memorial for a cat, and would be placed in a private garden, also took a little of the pressure off - though the drive to make quality work is always there.
From beginning to end, I was responsible for designing, shaping, and carving this stone (with Eric helping me along the way). Most of the skills I’ve accrued so far in my apprenticeship were employed for this project.
First, a suitable piece of stone was picked: we used a lovely little slab of black slate.
Then the lettering was designed and drawn out. This step, as is usually the case, was the longest and most considered step of the process. We are letter carvers, after all!
The next step was the shaping of the stone. The client wanted it to have smooth, pebblized edges with a slight taper towards the top. I accomplished this by grinding the edges and bulk off with an angle grinder, followed by shaping and smoothing with a spinner. The last leg of the shaping was done by hand with files and sand paper. It was a fair amount of work, but I think the finished product was well worth the effort.
The lettering was then pounced down on the stone and the all-important carving commenced. I’m still not a seasoned carver, but I think I did a pretty good job. Eric then gave it a pass to tighten everything up. It’s really that last 5% of carving that separates good work from great work, and Eric is a master of the 5%!
All that was left to do was to flood paint it and sand it off. Overall, I’m very pleased with the stone, and I feel a lot more confident in undertaking future work (which I have since completing it). Now on to bigger things!