J. David Gillespie has been carving slate gravestones since 2002. Learning the craft from a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission in Rhode Island and later in his native South Carolina from accomplished artists, he feels very blessed by the Lord to be carving the slate stones by hand. He uses only chisels and mallet, true to the 18th century approach. He and his wife, Renee, attend re-enactments all across the Eastern United States, demonstrating "the old ways and seeking the old paths."
Gillespie has given slate stone cutting demonstrations, including at The South Carolina Powder Magazine, the American College of the Building Arts, Monmouth University, Ninety-Six National Historic Site, Middleton Place Plantation, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Gillespie is also the author of the recent book, A Brief Treatise on Tomb and Grave Stones of the Eighteenth Century, and has lectured across the Eastern U.S. on the subjects of carving and his book. For his stonecutting, Gillespie was selected in 2014 as one of America’s Best and Listed in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts in Early American Life magazine. This selection was made by top museum curators and historic material culture professionals across the country.
Gillespie takes custom orders for slate tombstones, to mark the final resting place of people whether they have been deceased for over 200 years or just recently! Sometimes customers even place an order in advance before a stone is needed. Due to the nature of custom hand work like this, a wait time is to be expected. Gillespie also carves custom signs, plaques, stone bookends, quote stones, reliefs, and has castings available of his carvings.
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