Stonemasonry is an amazing craft. This planet is made from stone and there exists a bunch of hardy souls who devote their working lives to understanding how best to exploit and create with the incredible geology available to them. The process of turning the Earth’s bounty into something beautiful is an endless and fascinating quest, part of which we call stonemasonry.

The knowledge and skillsets surrounding stonemasonry are a lifelong pursuit, and reveal themselves only with hard work and perseverance. As there is no one source of knowledge, stonemasons must learn their craft in a multitude of ways.

We must firstly expose ourselves to as many different types of geology as possible, something that can be very difficult as stone is an indigenous medium. It tends to accumulate in certain areas and as a result masons need to be prepared to travel extensively to expose themselves to different stone types. Along with these stone types come the corresponding and associated styles. It is best described as a physical and technical language that morphs with the corresponding geography.

Exposure is one thing, but the technical skillsets aligned with these geologies are quite another. This is the real challenge for the mason. Acquiring these skillsets takes place one of two ways. Either by trial, error and direct experimentation… or by knowledge sharing. Almost everything in stonemasonry has already been done and perfected throughout the ages, so our task is to re-learn and re-acquire this knowledge. A good mason will be surrounded by a group of individuals who collectively have acquired as much of this lost knowledge as possible and, through their relationships with each other, share their hard earned experience. Through knowledge sharing, mentoring and research, we re-acquire the old skillsets.

There is much to learn… too much for any individual. So all we can ever expect is to learn what we can in the time we have available to us, and with the geology presented to us. It is a lifelong occupation and a humbling experience for all who venture beyond the surface of the craft. As a chef would travel about with his repertoire of recipes, so too does the mason with his skillsets. If he is dedicated and hardworking, but most of all open to the limitless knowledge the craft provides, he will prosper along with the craft.

My ambitions are simple. Firstly to create a network of like-minded individuals, and the offering of apprenticeships is the easiest way of doing this. Training young men in the craft and passing down hard won skillsets and exposing them to an ethic which fosters hard work, adherence to the laws of masonry and brotherly teamwork, is our way of creating this network. It has taken years, but the young men are now starting thriving businesses of their own, and these new networks, in conjunction with older established ones, are giving the craft the principled young talent for the future.

Secondly, I would like to continue to learn the craft. One must accept work outside of comfort zones and familiarity in order to grow. Drawing on existing skills and knowledge to solve problems, and constantly pushing outwards to acquire new skills. There are always new techniques to learn and this provides much of the stimulation and vitality within the group. This knowledge, once acquired, is enthusiastically shared within the group.

And finally, to adhere to the best practice guidelines of stonemasonry. Integrity is paramount, not just in terms of technical accuracy, but also stylistic authenticity. If a culture of integrity is provided within a group, it encourages and rewards high standards, both technically and socially.


~ Cam Freeden, Director