Double-sided alphabet in slate with incised and raised lettering (B43)

Catalogue Record



John Skelton


Double-sided alphabet in slate with incised and raised lettering

Made in





Slate slab with incised and raised lettering, double-sided.

Materials and techniques

The material is Welsh slate from Corris, Machynlleth with incised and raised lettering. Polished on one face, riven on the other. The polished face is suitable for very refined forms allowing hairline flicks to the serifs of the letters, and is ideal for incised letters. This alphabet is based in form on pen letters but the only setting out was a pricked line up the middle of each letter. This allowed the chisel to take over and give true incised character. The riven face suggested a more robust raised letter form based on Roman Classical proportions, but with the chunky look that the "wall" must give in relief.
The splitting between the letter forms is a somewhat nerve-wracking technique and can only be achieved by ensuring that the base of the wall line is severed thoroughly and of accurate depth all round each line, then and only then will the "conters" split out neatly & even, then one must "feel" for the cleavage.
Prior to any cutting the surfaces are treated with linseed oil (raw) and polished at intervals over several days with crunched up newspaper and then a soft cloth. The tolls used were standard tungsten tipped leterring tools but for the cleavage very thin slightly fishtail tools made to my own specification, drawn out very thinly, were used. Both made by Crawshaw & Co., Mitcham. Hammers were standard Tiranti iron dummy but with a special handle designed & made by me.


height:  47cm
width:  54cm
depth (base):  13cm
depth (body):  4cm

Object number



Maker's statement

So far as I am aware I am the only person doing the split slate technique for lettering and the letter forms are designed strictly for this method. This is the first time I have employed it on an alphabet. I feel very honoured that the CC commissioned it and believe I am right in thinking it is the only alphabet in its Collection in stone.

(A subsequent stone alphabet by Lida Lopes Cardozo Kindersley, B46, was acquired in 1993)