Guide to commissioning
Please contact us at 152 Victoria Road, Cambridge CB4 3DZ or telephone +44 (0)1223 362170 if you would like to know more about commissioning us. We do not have email or fax.
On first approaching us, some people have a clear idea of what is needed, while others may not know how to put their ideas into words, or even what would be possible.
Every job is different and every need specific, so the result will be original and unexpected every time. However, there is a definite discipline with certain steps to follow when working with stone, wood or indeed any material.
We have much experience of going through this process. Little by little we will come from your first idea to an end result.
The more we all put in, the more comes out. The more we can find out from each other, the better the work will be.
What we need to know from you
What kind of object needs to be made? What is being celebrated or commemorated? Is there a time constraint – an anniversary or event? What needs to be said? Where is the object to be located?
What you will need to know from us
How much and how long? The costs are directly related to the material and amount of work involved in making the object. We charge by the day so the size, the material, the amount of text and carving all contribute to the cost of a project. The same factors influence the duration of a project; working stone is a slow business. Something small can take weeks; something large, months.
Permits faculties and planning permission
Where a commission involves siting work in a public place the relevant permits must be granted. A churchyard might have restrictions on materials and size; a sculpture or inscription in a public place usually requires local authority planning permission. We can advise and help you in this process.
When the design of the object is complete we will send you a detailed sketch giving details of:
- the size and shape of the object
- the material and thickness
- combination of letterforms and flourishes
- an indication of symbols, heraldry, reliefs etc
- the positioning of the object
If everything is entirely satisfactory at this stage there are still three things the client must do before we start cutting.
- Check everything – a sketch is still open to easy correction
- Make sure any permits needed have been granted
- Give the go-ahead in writing – at this point we will order the material and may ask for one third of the quoted cost on account.
Once the stone has been shaped we draw out the design on it. At this moment our attention is completey focused on making the design work. The design is not simply transferred but redrawn entirely. This way we can identify and take advantage of any opportunity to improve it. This is a vital step in the development of the work.
It is during cutting that we make the final decisions about the precise letterform, its depth and its spacing. Cutting is a quiet and solitary business. This act is our moment of meditation and concentration. All our attention must be on the tip of the chisel.
Though mistakes do not often occur, they can happen. There are a number of things we can do:
- Re-cut – this is the best solution and if the mistake were ours this is what we would do.
- Rubbing out – chiselling away and rubbing smooth a large area around the mistake.
- Filling – On the whole we are against this. It can be made to look good but will not age in the same way as the stone.
Sometimes the contrast between a stone’s surface and the newly cut letterforms can be rather weak. Often we paint the letters to help the inscription show up for the first few years. With slate we tend to paint the letters off-white to re-create the freshly cut contrast. They can of course be painted any colour or even gilded.
We prefer to fix our work into position ourselves. It can be hard work, but it gets us out and about to see the places where our work belongs. Wall fixings are always invisible. Permanent fixings can require special building skills, especially fixings in flint churches, old stone walls and glass or wooden panelling.
When the work is done, and we will all have developed and gained experience.