Steve Roche AKA Stonemason

May 31, 8:30am - 10:00am UTC. Hosted at Peter&Paul

part of a series on Preserve


About the speaker

Steve is a Letter Carver and Stonemason specialising in handmade inscriptions and traditional masonry techniques. With work ranging from formal hand-cut memorials to restoration of old buildings to public art projects. Can check his site here link

Steve’s main passion is designing inscriptions and cutting letters in stone. He has just completed the three-year Advanced Training Scheme calligraphy course run by the Society of Scribes and Illuminators.

’It has given my creative development as a Letter Carver a real boost, I now have a number of new strings to my bow and a feeling of genuine creative flourishing. It has led me to produce large contemporary calligraphy pieces in scripts I have developed myself.’

Over the last few years Steve has been commissioned to do a number of public art projects:
 - a 12-ton Yorkstone boulder with a stags head pattern motif. - turning local peoples thumbprints into geometric labyrinths cut in stone.  - a fossil-limestone boulder with a sycamore seed carved in the top and a poem spiralling round in the motion of the seed. 

He set up The Stone & Letter Workshop in 2013 at Stag Works nr Bramall Lane. Pop in if you’re passing by! 

‘After breaking my leg and losing my office job in the same month, I seized the opportunity to retrain as a stonemason - something I had always wanted to do. My apprenticeship was with a restoration and conservation company. I really valued this training for giving me the chance to help preserve the heritage of beautiful, old buildings.

At York College I learnt how to set out and carve architectural masonry, doing everything by hand using techniques which haven’t changed for centuries. I love this tangible link to the past - the sound of chisel on stone kind of gets in your bones!

From starting on restoration projects, I became more intrigued by letter carving and have sought out as many courses from master carvers as I can, to learn more about proportion, design and cutting. This is turn, led to my interest in calligraphy.

Being a stonemason can be tough, dusty work, but I love how rewarding and varied it is, from carving inscriptions in my workshop to clambering around on church roofs.

My studio is called the Stone&Letter Workshop, it is at Stag Works, an old cutlery factory in Sheffield. It is split into two areas, designing/drafting and cutting/polishing/shaping. Stag Works is a good place to work as there is a small community of other craftspeople, we all try to help each other out.

I have an ever-expanding collection of antique masons and draftsman’s tools, most of which I still use as they were made by people who put care and attention into their craft, you can feel this when you hold them. Some new tools have this well-balanced feel, all of the new chisels I use are handmade, it took a while to build up a collection of ones I’m happy with.

I draw out everything by hand and go through a process of literally cutting and pasting letters and words together to get the spacing and look of the piece right. This can take a while but means I really focus on each individual letter and the space around them.’

Steve is clearly superbly equipped to be talking #CMpreserve and will be in conversation at the Testone Factory, home of Peter&Paul. A chance to see some of his original pieces (those that can be transported!). Look forward to seeing you there.

Local partners