Letter carving in slate

The Brief

Letter carving in Italian slate in serif typeface, with 24 carat gold leaf gilding.

My wife Jacqui is a teacher at a Church of England School in Surbiton and their motto is the 5 Graces: God, Growing, Grace, Giving, Guiding.

I changed the order of the Graces and put God in the middle as it looked better to me. I’m not sure how they’ll take that!

Setting Out

I justified the type but retained the kerning (inter-letter spacing) by re-sizing the type. I did this on Photoshop and traced the letters onto the slate using carbon paper and a biro.


Carving or Cutting the letters

Starting at the last letter I worked backwards with a very sharp 3mm tungsten carbide letter-carving chisel, resharpening every 3 letters or so. The slate was prone to plucking in places so I had to be very careful.

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Further on and I’m getting into my stride. I do like letter carving. A sculptor friend of mine described it as ‘mini-masonry’ which I really like. You’re just using tiny 3-6mm chisels and iron dummies instead of big nylon mallets and 25mm bolsters. It didn’t help that I was desperate for a new glasses prescription so my eyes were straining by the end of the day!

Gilding with 24 Carat Gold Leaf

With the letter carving complete I then painted size ( a type of glue) into the v-cuts of the letters, and applied gold leaf (below) with various brushes. img_2013

I waited 3 days before rubbing the surface down with wet and dry and voila.

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What do you think?

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