Whereas all monumental masons are stonemasons, not all stonemasons are monumental masons. Stonemasonry is, along with prostitution, the oldest profession on the world but those that specialise in monumental masonry need a specific skill set.
The work of a monumental mason is far different to of a banker mason, who carves stone in a workshop that is then attached to the building by a fixer mason. Monumental masons are more often than not working on much smaller stone and applying a far greater level of detail, not only will they carve they will also letter and fix. They are creating a lasting memorial headstone for a loved one that can often contain personal poems or epitaphs and sometimes carvings of symbols associated with death, such as cherubs or angels.
During their apprenticeship monumental masons will learn about the way materials are carved, cut and crafted, they will also learn the geology of the natural stone. They will be taught about the different types of materials that are used for headstones; which are more suited to being shaped, used for ornamental carvings and which are better for lettering only. Additionally, they will learn about the durability of materials to the weather and what types are most appropriate for areas where wind and rain are prevalent.
In addition to learning their trade with a hammer and chisel, monumental masons need to develop the ability to show sensitivity to their customers and sometimes be a counsellor and trusted acquaintance. The needs of the business have to be balanced against the customer’s grief, expectation and finances. These traits can not be taught at training college and can only be learned over time from experienced colleagues and dealing with situations as they happen.
Technological advances mean that headstones can be cut and crafted using machinery nowadays. However there are many circumstances when traditional hand crafted methods are necessary, such as when adding new lettering to older headstones. Another is when the memorial is made from marble, on which it is better to hand cut or put leaded letters than use sandblasting.
At Sarsfield Memorials we have nearly seventy years of experience passed through the generations of monumental masonry and will be happy to guide you as to your requirements. Please contact us for a free no obligation quote.