Founder of Burr & Bevel, Oz (Rosemary Osmaston), shares her secret to getting started in stone carving.
I love looking through my fellow carvers’ waste stone and offcuts. They let me browse and sometimes I find hidden gems of stone, featuring unusual patterns and textures. I was recently given an offcut of Spanish Limestone, filled with shells, reminding me of a quality bathroom tile. It was lovely, full of potential yet unneeded. It came to my studio and waited for a mission. I found its purpose in the form of a Vandercook proofing press, sitting in the reception of the specialist printers Baddeley Brothers.
I was visiting old friends from my days in print production, sharing the news of my venture into stone carving. Since the first course I took at the City Lit with Geoff Aldred in September 2010, I have been continually testing myself, always pushing the boundaries of what I can achieve. As I talked about my new stone carving business, Burr and Bevel, I was struck by the idea of printing from a carved stone. My piece of limestone would nestle well in that proofing press. With Baddeley Brothers logo on one side and my logo on the other, it would an unconventional way to produce some distinctive posters that celebrated both our crafts.
Carefully carving the Baddeley Brothers logo in relief and in reverse on one side, and similarly the Burr & Bevel logo on the other is an ongoing challenge. For the Baddeley Brothers logo, its geometric precision was stimulating, and it made me think about how on earth tiny type was originally made. Apparently it was carved by jewellers. I can see I might have to invest in some exquisitely tiny chisels and a high powered magnifying headset arrangement similar to the one we used to have at Calverts. And a very bright light.
My logo must be carved (in reverse) three times, top and bottom lines V cut, the middle line in relief. The letters are very fine – right at the edge of what I can do with a 4mm tungsten chisel. The end result when printed should be white out type at the top and bottom, and black on type in the middle. Before I finish I’ll do a rubbing of it to see how accurate my carving has been and make corrections as far as possible, but unfortunately I can only remove stone, not add on a bit if I knock a bit off!
This labour of love, imperfections and all, is nearing completion and soon I’ll find out how this stone will perform on the press. And I’ll welcome a little diversion into stone letterpress as my journey with Burr & Bevel begins.