Heraldic carving has a discipline that links it closely with lettering; they both have rules, but the rules are there to be broken providing one is aware of them!
For example, a unicorn always has a lion's tail, in the same way that an E will have three crossbars; but where one places the lion's tail and crossbars is up to the designer.
So much of the carving technique will depend on the chosen material, the scale, and the content. There are many different ways of carving a coat of arms on a headstone; bas relief, sunken relief, incised line carving, deep, shallow, painted, gilded, unpainted! If the design is in deep relief, we will sometimes ‘undercut’ the carving to produce a greater shadow.
A shield on its own is usually enough, but one could add a scroll under the shield containing the motto, and the helmet with the crest on top, before maybe adding the mantling to form a lovely shape. Much will depend on your budget. The depth of the carving will also have a bearing on the budget. The design will depend on the location and light source, so if on a building, I would come and do a survey before making a design.
When searching for some sort of pictorial carving or pattern for a headstone, I will start by looking at your coat of arms (if you have one) and maybe use an element as a decorative motif, a scallop shell for example or heraldic animal just to hint at your history rather than being too obvious. Occasionally a church will be reluctant to allow us to use a crest on a headstone as some can be fierce or menacing, in which case we might simply use the motto.
Yes we work all over the UK, and we often travel to work away in-situ. We also deliver overseas.
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