Carving the Company Crest
At the Court of the Livery meeting at the ‘Salters’ Hall’, on 1st September 2016, Gerard presented Master Tom Rider with a carved plaque of the Tylers and Bricklayers Company Coat of Arms executed in fine ‘gauged brickwork’.
In 2016 I became a Freeman of the City and admitted to the Livery. A momentous year, commemorating the 600th anniversary of the Company’s first Master, the 350th anniversary of ‘The Great Fire of London’, and the Company’s own publication ‘They built London’; The History of the Tylers and Bricklayers Company’, by Dr Penelope Hunting. Aware the Company did not have its crest carved in brick and, with an eye to the final Court of Livery meeting, with Tom Rider ending his year as Master, and handing over to David Szymanski for 2017, I decided to sculpt the Company’s crest in a panel of gauged brickwork.
Creating this to ¼ scale to house within a presentation case, for easy handling to Company events and protect from damage, involved over 80 hours work. From one full-size brick, rubbed perfectly square, several miniature bricks were obtained, checked for square, and laid symmetrically to bond on a timber base with shellac-based mortar joints less than 1mm thick.
The panel dry, the crest was scribed for ‘bas-relief’ carving to project from, yet still belong to the background brickwork. Sculpting intricate details, requires a ‘critical-eye’, artistic skill, care and patience manipulating mallet, chisels, files and abrasives, working the surface to gradually delineate and create desired shapes.
Visualising three-dimensionally images drawn two-dimensionally is critical. Difficulties are greatly magnified carving to a very small scale and in brick – without predictable structure – suddenly encountering small, hidden, inclusions, or voids, then appear huge; and sculpting the fingers of the hand clasping the brick axe required great care. Because of this issue the Company name and motto is neatly engraved on two polished metal strips fixed on the top and bottom of the presentation box.
Formal presentation to Master Tom Ryder, was made at the end of the meeting of the Court of the Livery and I swiftly received a letter from him, dated 6th September 2016 that stated:
“Your brick carving of the Company crest is absolutely magnificent. I congratulate you on your workmanship. It must have taken you many hours. It is is a wonderful addition to the Company’s treasures and a very fitting object for the 600th anniversary of the Company’s first Master. Thank you so very much and for coming to the Court meeting last Thursday to present it to the Company. It also made a most pleasurable finale to my last Court meeting as Master.