Yes, It Is Carved In Stone
June 11, 2013 7:35 AM   Subscribe

The John Stevens Shop in Newport, Rhode Island is a 3 century old family business that primarily carves lettering in stone buildings and memorials using traditional designs, including the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Arlington. It is astounding to see the high quality of their work over time, from the documentary Final Marks (1979) to fonts designed for Adobe, to perhaps the greatest task: training those that will follow so they may lead.
posted by plinth (8 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Another wonderful, genteel job my guidance counsellor didn't inform me about.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:38 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

I fail to see the "hockey stick" potential in their business model.
posted by Slothrup at 7:40 AM on June 11, 2013

Gorgeous work. Masterful typography.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:17 AM on June 11, 2013

I wish all artisans cared about their work to this degree. I once noticed a cornerstone in Philadelphia where they actually carved ditto marks rather than taking the time to carve A.D. again on the second line of the date.
posted by jeffhoward at 9:21 AM on June 11, 2013

Interestingly, I read about this recently, which is about 5 miles from me:

"In Newtown Linford Churchyard Leicestershire, there is a tombstone with nothing inscribed on it but the alphabet written in different styles. The stone – mason submitted the lettering to a customer to select a style; the customer was so pleased with the appearance that he decided to have the original tombstone with nothing else added."

Unfortunately I cannot find a picture, although I did find this beauty, also in Newtown Linford.
posted by marienbad at 9:53 AM on June 11, 2013

Oh man, I lived in Rhode Island for five years and never heard of them. This is amazing. Great find, plinth!
posted by Kattullus at 11:36 AM on June 11, 2013

I love that Final Marks documentary. At one point he's singing to himself while he works, like some kind of hobbit. I had to go find the lyrics, because I thought it was beautiful. It's called "West of Ireland" -- lyrics here.

The website where the documentary is hosted, folkstreams, is a treasure trove of such videos. Here's another I loved, about an old man building a traditional sleigh: Ben's Mill.
posted by jimtr at 11:36 AM on June 11, 2013

This is so awesome! The documentary Final Marks very much satisfied my curiosity of the actual process. As an amateur calligrapher I can really appreciate the full understanding of lettering required before one can actually carve them into stone.
posted by rmmcclay at 8:59 PM on June 11, 2013

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