WINNER - Rookwood Stonemasons Award
The judges said: “Sach Killam’s level of commitment to actually carving a gothic decorated feature, a whole rose window, is quite a demonstration for a bank mason and carver. It's been beautifully executed, with details such as the winged hourglass - a lovely bit of symbolism in the setting of HIDDEN. It is a highly decorated piece and an excellent demonstration of a mason's skill.”
Gothic Window, 2023
Sydney Yellow Block Sandstone
About the Artist
Hello. I'm Sach Killam from the monumental Heritage team at Rookwood. Our team loved the carving competition because it's a chance to do something we rarely (if ever) have a chance to do, which is design and execute a full-on carving in stone. We spend so many hours of our time with wonderful stone, wonderful historic work, when working on safety repairs and heritage conservation.
This year, my plan is to complete a gothic rose window at small scale. After feedback from the judges who wanted more explicit stone carving and not just architectural moulding and tracery, I've integrated four spandrel carvings, which are triangular corner spaces with the carvings based on German and UK gothic examples, but also using a winged hourglass which references the ones in the original mortuary stations at Rookwood, near central.
The process has been a series of about 30 drawings starting from some rough sketches on the back of an envelope, progressing to measured in scaled plans and cross-sections of the intended product—if I don't make any mistakes along the way.
As to the carving process, because sandstone is not my native stone—In Canada, my region had a wonderful, though course, limestone and I’ve been carving in marble for a long time—I've been doing all the aspects of the carving by hand. But I may relent and use a drill for some of the window piercings. Uh... we'll see on that front. So, the process is marking out with pencils, rulers, compass and a carbide scribe. roughing out with the point chisel and scutch (which is a toothed, or a combed, chisel) and then finishing with various flat chisels and I have some fire sharp gouges that I can use for the mouldings. But I need to use them sparingly because, being fire sharp, they lose their edge very quickly on the yellow block Sydney sandstone.
I’m still experimenting with mallets for sandstone. I have a small dummy mallet in malleable iron that I love letter cutting, but I’m trying out a larger Portuguese-style dummy mallet that I got last year, and I also have three different sizes and hardnesses of nylon composite mallets that I’m using for the carving.
So, all going well. We'll be looking at the finished product and I won't have messed it up.