Categories
lettering percy smith sculpture stone

Memorial lettering

A tradition of fine hand-cut memorials exists in the UK. I was once a small part of that heritage, being commissioned to create bespoke headstones and other memorials for clients. Over the last week as part of a effort to simplify my ever growing lettering collection and archives I came across these images of mine, all made in England and pre-dating 2004 which was when we moved to Australia. I would often use both sides of the stone with the client providing a piece of prose or poetry appropriate to the person being memorialised which I’d carve on the reverse. These three examples show this, the first and third in green slate, the middle one in Welsh black:

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I also made this piece for the courtyard of a church in Essex, England. It is limestone and slate.

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Alas, there is, as far as I can discern, such a tradition in this part of the world. Maybe I should start one…

Also see this post on Percy Smith. Also see my page on sculptural items.

Categories
eric gill

Gill & Gill: a film

People still remain fascinated by Gill. WordPress stats reveal the posts I have written about him are the most frequently visited. As many of you know I abhor the man Eric Gill after years spent in shameful admiration of his letter carving. Were EG alive today he would face prosecution for, among other offences, child sexual abuse and incest.

That aside, recently I had an email from Louis-Jack Horton-Stephens who is making a film about two Gills – one typographers have heard, the other a guy by the name of Jack who climbed the stones his namesake carved.

Louis-Jack writes: ‘The film is a visual essay entitled ‘Gill & Gill‘ that explores humanity’s relationship with stone by juxtaposing two masters of their craft: one of rock climbing, the other of letter cutting. The film looks at the way these two very different practices, united by a common material, share basic principles such as: creativity, problem solving, dedication, muscle memory and balance. Through this unusual comparison I believe that we can come to better understand the artistry in both crafts, and in so doing reflect on humanity’s relationship with the material world.’

Louis-Jack is seeking funds to make and complete his film. If you are interested in knowing more please follow this link

 

Categories
lettering lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework Thoughts on lettering Typographic ephemera typography

Happy Third

Birthday’s should not go unnoticed, even if it is a blog. After all, behind the blog is a person.gold 3 The actual third anniversary of All About Lettering was on November 2 and, no, there was no celebration. (2nd anniversary blog here.)3 stones

This blog will make 355. I had intended when I began (full of enthusiasm and unaware of the amount of time  it takes to write a post, do the research etc) that I would have published 365 in the first year alone, that’s one a day. That hurdle – if it be one – still remains to be crossed, though it draws ever nearer.

The past year has been one of activity outside of typography (I have been completing a postgraduate course) and the frequency of posts dropped away. Indeed in the first months of the year there were none recorded, and yet I noticed that people were still dropping round to take a look.

Thank you, and to those who have been following since the beginning, a very warm thank you for sticking by. I still have a few things to say and illustrate about the marvellous world of print, typography, lettering and design. So don’t go away just yet. When it comes to numerals there isn’t a lot of good stuff around, but on a walk around my neighbourhood I spotted the stones shown here as a reminder that nature does best (though in truth these stones, forming a wall, were placed by human activity). The other  illustration is a quick calligraphic doodle of mine.

Categories
lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework

Oops….

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

 

Categories
lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework

Lettering on stone – Latinists on stone

It seems stone carving brings out the Latin in people. I declare that I was guilty of this, as demonstrated by this example (17cm x 10cm). Why? Something about the Roman heritage of carving? Something about the permanence of the object that befits a dead language? Any other suggestions most welcome. (The inscription reads: Now I know what loves means. Would that have been better expressed in English? I think not. But then I am a romantic.)

Categories
Elements of Lettering

Architectural lettering – a lesson from history

Now I am not going to say these two local examples (Murwillumbah, NSW, Australia) are wonderful evidence of type, yet I am always fascinated when I come across pieces like this to consider the architect’s (or builder’s) intentions.

In the case of the Budd sign, probably simple advertising, although it is not easy to see and I have passed by that shop for years now without noting it. In fact, it was only when I was on the balcony of the recently renovated adjacent cinema a few weeks back that I spotted it.

The second example is more intriguing since it is purely decorative.

It reminds me of the illustration taken from Alan Bartram’s wonderful Lettering on Architecture (1975), shown here. I also think of Rome with its multitude of monumental signage, also pictured in Bartram’s text (pp 154-155).

Also see this blog on Ralph Beyer.

Categories
History of Lettering lettering

Stonemasons marks and Adrian Frutiger

Being a former stonemason I was pleased to come across this set of illustrations in Frutiger’s masterpiece Signs and Symbols, a book I recommend unreservedly to anyone with an interest in the alphabet/scripts/lettering. (My edition is the 1989 single volume, published by Studio Editions, ISBN 1-85170-401-9.)

These marks are from Strasbourg Cathedral and date from a period between 1200 and 1700, with the top row being the earliest. Frutiger (who designed Univers) observes ‘the origin and development of stonemasons’ signs are closely associated with the social circumstances of the Middle Ages’.

Once masons were being paid, rather than working for the greater glory of God, they needed to mark the stone they had dressed to ensure payment.

[Click on image to enlarge.]

Categories
lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework

Still Point… lettercarving


Polished marble, at 60cm x 50cm, infilled with grey acrylic. Text from TS Eliot. [Carver – J Pitt, July 2011.]

Categories
lettering

In Principio – part 2

[Part 1 is here]

The Latin text translates – In the beginning was the word (or, all our troubles began with words).

The gilding is in copper.

Categories
Thoughts on lettering

In principio….part 1

In Principio Erat Verbum – in the beginning was the word.

I cut this inscription when I was first starting out in letter carving. I have re-cut it now, as a new chapter opens. More images to follow…