Stone Carving Workshops for Young People and the Museum’s new Handling Collection
Kenn Taylor, Community Education Officer, discusses the Soane's work with the Building Crafts College, and a recent stone carving workshop for young people.
Since 2012, Sir John Soane’s Museum has been working on a joint project with the Building Crafts College in Stratford to develop a range of objects for the Museum’s first educational handling collection.
The objects made by students at the College in stone, wood and plaster will be used for educational sessions both in the Museum and on outreach visits. As replicas, these objects can be touched and explored, allowing school and community groups to learn about the Museum in a hands-on, interactive way.
As well as providing the Museum with replicas of outstanding quality, the project also gave Building Crafts College students important ‘real world’ work experience – providing a link between a unique historical collection and the training of young people in traditional trades and crafts - essential if our historic buildings and their interiors are to be preserved into the future.
The project, funded by the Ernest Cook Trust, also enabled a series of stone carving workshops for young people to be held at the College. These allowed them to try out this most traditional of crafts for the first time using the College’s industry-standard materials and equipment.
One of our participants in the stone carving workshop, using the specialist tools (Courtesy of Kenn Taylor)
The most recent stone carving session was held on the 30th November with members of Pinecone, the Soane Museum’s Youth Panel, as well as other young people recruited through social media spending all day at the College on a workshop. Taking inspiration from objects in the new handling collection, in particular from the reproduction of part of the sarcophagus of Seti I in a translucent slice of alabaster, they worked to create their own designs to be carved into stone.
After instruction from College tutor Jon Whitbread on safety in the workshop, different types of stone and masonry and tools, the young people witnessed a large block of Bath stone being cut down to manageable chunks for them to work on by the College’s huge mechanical saw. When it was cut down, a mineral cluster was revealed in the stone which the College decided to keep as it is unusual to find one so large.
A mineral cluster found when cutting a block of Bath stone (Courtesy of Kenn Taylor)
For the remainder of the day the participants, with support from College and Museum staff, tried their hand at ‘relief’ carving, were stone is cut away to reveal a 3D design. The young people achieved some brilliant results in such a short time, ranging from Egyptian inspired symbols to unique contemporary patterns.
The workshop was so popular that the Museum hopes to run similar sessions in the future.
The group of young people using their new skills to carve their own stone (Courtesy of Kenn Taylor)
If you would like to find out more about our activities for children and young people then please click here.