lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework


On a recent trip to the Granite Belt of Queensland (Australia) I stumbled across this in the pavement of the town of Stanthorpe. Clearly a builder of an adjoining property had no understanding, or love, of lettering. It reminded me of the time  I carved a foundation stone to an architect’s instructions for an Oxford college. The stone (sandstone) was octagonal to fit in a paved area. I delivered the piece on time, was paid promptly and added the images to my portfolio. A month or so later the architect rang. ‘John,’ he said, ‘there’s a problem’. Immediately I thought perhaps I had made an error in some name on the stone, or the date of commemoration was wrong. But no. ‘The bloody builder decided that because the shape in the pavement was different to the size of the stone he would cut the stone to fit. It’s a disaster.’

The outcome was that I was commissioned (and paid) to produce a second stone. It was never as good as the first – letter carving is a one-off. Otherwise be a printer.

D in stanthorpe


S in stanthorpe


5 replies on “Oops….”

It was a long time ago. Sounds funny now. Part of the rich learning experience…

I was! I prefer stonecarving now; though still have a shine for printing as you’ve probably guessed by now.

As a one time printer (typesetter) and active stone carver I have to say I know which one I vastly prefer. But I do acknowledge and admire well crafted printing, although it would seem to be a dying art in the world of desktop printers and utterly clueless graphic designers (my pet peeve – unreadable type meandering across a garish clashing background!).
But what I always find gratifying is when people see my traditional v-cut letters and attempt to put their admiration into words – they know they like them, they just don’t know why. However, once they get the basic explanation they never quite see sandblasted (blacked-in) letters quite the same way again.
Nice blog – very interesting.
Thanks for stiring up such memories and for caring so much about the oft misunderstood art of typography.

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