This silver necklace collection for men is cut and cast into British stone the collection is informed by the anonymous art of letter carving.
Inspired by identity and protection the collection explores Alphabet jewellery & Medieval casting techniques. Working with the celebrated stone carver, Philip Surey, letters are cut into stone to celebrate the creative and technical history of letter carving, together with our local geological materials. Solid silver alphabet charms are made directly into the cut stones from Wales and the West of England, to create textured jewellery with a story of craftsmanship, nature, protection, and identity.
Featuring medallions and giant charms, the Carve necklace collection celebrates individuality, with no two of our letters ever being the same. Each piece is crafted by moulding and dripping wax into the stone, by hand, and one at a time, before being cast in London and finished in Birmingham.
Alice Made This has collaborated with expert letter carver, Philip Surey to create the Carve Collection.
Graduating in 1996 from the City & Guilds of London Art School, Phil had spells assisting two of the great letter carvers, Richard Kindersley and Ralph Beyer, before establishing his own workshop in South East London, where Alice Made This has had the pleasure of working with him. His humble demeanour veils his amazing client list that includes The National Trust, Tate Britain, Southwark Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Winchester Cathedral amongst many more personal commissions and projects.
Originating lettering by hand Philip uses the brush to set out inscriptional work, which ranges from formal Roman, to his more casual ‘Phil Sans’. All lettering is designed by brush or pencil to suit its purpose and place, creating a unique response to every piece he works on.
Phil and Alice explore the history of lettering and the people that shaped stone carving as an art, through this collection. Stones have been chosen for their locality and purpose, and Phil has carved the ‘tools’ through which Alice creates each piece of Alphabet jewellery.
“It is very exciting to be working in a truly collaborative way with AMT, to witness my carved letters liberated from the stone, transformed, and take flight in new metal forms is something I find very uplifting” Philip Surey
Two alphabets are hand carved into two different British stones, using a hammer and chisel, to act as a mould for Alice to create a unique range of jewellery.
A quintessential Anglicised Roman letter is carved into Welsh slate. As the root form of the western alphabet, and with its famously geometric construction, our Roman lettering choice is taken from the industrial lettering of the early 19th century. A traditional letter with a homage to engineering. Carved into Welsh slate, a metamorphic rock, relatively soft and very durable, we create a finely cut alphabet series elevating the riven detail found in our British slate.
As an antithesis of this fine stone and technically correct lettering, we have also explored the porous nature of sedimentary rocks. An oolite limestone, a Bath stone, has been carved to create a mould that offers raw texture and natural imperfection. Formed from the accumulation of water-borne sediments and calcareous deposits from the seabed, we have cut lettering inspired by the late Ralph Beyer, one of the most compelling and complex of post war letterers in Britain. Arriving in England at the age of 16, as a Jewish refugee, he fell into work with Eric Gill, Henry Moore, Basil Spence amongst many, to evolve his craft. In a field dominated by tradition, his inscriptional work was bravely original and treads a path between ‘art’ and ‘craft’ which resonated with both Phil and Alice.
These two stones, carved by Philip, act as the tooling for Alice to mould the alphabet jewellery. Made by hand in small batches, wax is pressed or dripped directly into the stone. Once air-cooled the letters are carefully released and cast in 925 sterling silver in our London, Royal Warrant holding, casting house. Each letter is then de-sprued, pin-barrelled, and hand finished to celebrate its texture, process, craftsmanship and story.
‘Letter carving is a craft rooted in several basic human preconceptions: language, design and making’
John Neilson, The inscription of Ralph Beyer.
A WORD FROM ALICE
“Stone carvings are all around us. In particular, beautifully carved lettering, are a feature and a finesse on heritage buildings, sculptures, headstones, cathedrals, and churches everywhere, and in plain sight. Yet, Letter Carving is considered a somewhat anonymous art. A quiet art, carved with artistic liberation, geometric accuracy, and technical excellence, yet one that remains largely anonymous, as no one puts their name against this wonderful craftsmanship! It was this anonymity, paired with the reality that every part of a hand-carved inscription is the result of a direct human process, that ignited the Carve Collection. Shining a light on unsung heroes of craftsmanship, studying a new process, and further exploring the geological wonder of stone, has made this collection a true joy to develop.
The collection started with a core theme of Identity and Protection. The research stage looked at many cultural tangents including medieval armour, Egyptian scarabs, and Roman casting techniques, which led us to consider identity jewellery and stonework. We delved into the history of typography, of sign-writing, and of letter carving, to create two collections of solid silver alphabet jewellery, inspired, informed and crafted with stone.
Celebrated letter carver and author of the book ‘The inscriptions of Ralph Beyer’, John Neilson states, ‘People are often surprised that anyone still carves stone inscriptions by hand.’ Well, I am so delighted that they do. Having the pleasure of meeting and working with Philip Surey, has shown me, first hand, the immense beauty, and graceful craft of letter carving in stone.
I love the juxtaposition of a collection of identity jewellery to celebrate the craftsmanship of a figure that is usually so anonymous. Enjoy!
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