Most of the work is done by hand; hammer and chisel, files and rifflers. Much of the process has not changed since the Middle Ages but now there are machines and drills that can speed up the removal of stone before the fine hand carving begins. As much of the stone I use has been rolled and shaped by its journey in the glacier it is not always clear what type of stone it is. The first cut with a chisel tells you how hard the stone is and how it will behave. I use harder stones such as jasper, flint and obsidian for inlay as well as metal, glass and bone. These maybe for a bird’s eye or to show the contrast in a birds plumage.
The final part and often the longest is the polishing of the stone. Revealing its pattern and grain, using files and then finer and finer diamond pads.
I thought it might be interesting for you to be able to see the stages involved in bringing a piece to life
For this carving I wanted to experiment with inlaying bone into the slate to show off a magpies startling contrast. I also used aluminium for the stems of the feathers. Once the bird was carved I realised it was too symmetrical and decided to carve a background with 2 other magpies and branches to offset the symmetry. A wooden frame was then made to hold them.
This carving came from watching a heron struggling to eat a huge eel. The heron did not even notice I was there. It took a few minutes for it to restrain the eel. I keep a record of each carving as it develops. This one took weeks to make. Once the design is worked into the stone I then begin to carve deeper. Next I drill a series of holes so I can begin to saw away between the bird and eel.