Last weekend, I was invited by Obby to try one of their classes. I was really impressed by the range of craft workshops Obby has – so much that I wrote a post on why Obby is the best place in London to find a craft class – and ended up selecting stone letter carving, which I had never seen advertised elsewhere and couldn’t wait to try. (Note: you can also choose to do stone (sculpture) carving (£100) instead of letter carving (£115))


The class was held in the crypt of St Marys Chuch, Angel Islington, which I thought was very appropriate 😛 (but to be honest, it just looked like a regular basement room :o) It’s a great location- easy to get to (the bus stopped directly opposite, 10 minutes from tube)- in fact it was directly opposite my very first Makers & Friends pop-up!



Katherine started the class by showing up some of her carving work. She’s done quite a bit of restoration work for old churches etc which I found very interesting. Imagine walking by somewhere like St Pauls and going “oh I carved that gargoyle” 😛 (I guess I’d never really thought about what kind of commissions stone masons did in this day and age!)


We then moved on to looking at the different types of stone and tools. Some of this stone has been “reclaimed” from old buildings etc- that stone is used for stone carving whilst stone letter carving stone is slightly harder and “brand new” (hence the £15 difference in class prices)

You “fasten” the stone in the wooden frame so that it doesn’t move around when you chisel away at it- for stone carving, you use a hammer (think Thor) but in stone letter carving, you use the round tool shown above


There were 7 of us in total- 5 doing stone carving and 2 doing stone letter carving. The classes started with Kate showing all of us how to do some basic cutting. We all had a go chiselling away- some with more natural flair than others. Despite being a craft blogger, I think I’ll need a lot more training before I can be a stone mason 😛


See the 2 lines we are chiselling in between? We drew those with pencil!!! (very soft stone indeed) They’re guide lines to help protect the parts of the stone we are not meant to chip away 😛


After all of us had a go- you can see the “drain” formed


We then split into the stone carvers and letter carvers- chose our designs, picked up our stones and waited for more directions from Kate. I won’t go too much into the exact process so as not to bore you guys but basically beginner carvers work off a model- we choose a picture we like, draw the outline onto the stone and work off that (experienced carvers obviously scoff at our childish methods and go freehand :P)

Finished my pencil outline and started chiselling the two legs of the letter M


Chisel, chisel, chisel… a fun couple of hours later, you end up with:

M for proud maker


At the end of the class, I was dusty but happy 🙂 Some tips if you decide to take this class:

  1. Wear old clothes! Look how dirty mine got
  2. Don’t bring a posh bag or coat. We kept the bags and coats in a cupboard but, even so, the dirt found its way in 😛
  3. Think about what you want to carve before you turn up. For example, I initially wanted to carve the letter Z (for Zen!) but Kate didn’t have a model of Z that I could work with. I didn’t mind carving M instead but if you have a specific alphabet you want to carve, I’d imagine you’d be pretty disappointed 🙂
  4. If you wear specs (like me), you might want to come in contacts- we need to work with safety goggles, and the don’t fit too well over spectacles!

Like the hair? Here are 7 things you need to know before you go unicorn-mermaid-rainbow hair

Love trying new craft-y things? Check out this workshop where i carved my own silver ring (I just realised there’s a theme to the craft classes I take…:P)

Written by Zen

Let's chat! :)