This week my Artisans
project took me to Cleverley & Spencer Monumental Stonemasons
in Dover, and again I had a wonderful day watching masters at work. Ivor Spencer has been there since 1979 and now has his sons Paul and James working with him, alongside Alan and Tim who all clearly enjoyed their work. The first photos in the slideshow feature Ivor adding a second entry to a headstone they originally made in 1997. Ivor draws the lettering in pencil quite quickly then engraves the lettering to match the typeface used above. Alan's technique was different in that his drawn letters were more detailed and closer to the final result, but whichever way you do it, it was very impressive to watch.
The next photos show Paul adding lead lettering to a headstone which I must admit I fancied having a go at! The letters are engraved first and then a series of small holes are drilled at differing angles to ensure that when the lead is hammered in, it is then gripped by the holes. If the holes were drilled in dead straight the lead would fall out - such a simple but effective technique. Afterwards the lead that is proud of the surface is planed or chiselled off so it's flush, and then scrubbed with normal bleach to darken the lead.
The next technique I saw was shot-blasting, where a precision cut stencil is stuck to the stone and tiny black beads are fired at great pressure to engrave the design. Afterwards black enamel paint is used to fill in the debossed areas. It was hard to photograph the shot-blasting itself due to a semi-transparent window and a lot of dust.
I'd like to thank Ivor and everyone else I met for being so helpful, I really enjoyed my day.
© Tim Allen 2017. All Rights Reserved.