Building a career…
Since the birth of civilisation, the world has needed bricklayers and stonemasons. Just think of the many amazing buildings and structures around the world that would not exist without the handiwork of these people: Big Ben, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, your grandma’s house… The list goes on!
Why is it important? What does it involve?
Building a building is not an easy task. After all, you wouldn’t want just anybody building your new house. Stonemasons and bricklayers are highly-skilled craftspeople and tradespeople who have the ability to transform simple pieces of rock and clay into majestic structures.
These careers are mostly practical and can often be quite creative. Understandably, stonemasons work with stone, and bricklayers deal with bricks. However, both careers have the same objective: setting the chosen material in mortar and creating structures which are structurally sound, functional and aesthetically pleasing.
These roles may require quick, intense and repetitive work. However, great satisfaction can come from seeing the finished product: a building which is going to be standing there for years to come.
Careers in stonemasonry and bricklaying are open to everyone. No specific academic skills are required, and many people enter these professions through apprenticeships. ‘Brickies’ and stonemasons need to be good at working in teams, be comfortable working outdoors and have a natural talent for carrying out practical tasks.
Break it down for me a little bit!
Careers in stonemasonry are all about shaping rough chunks of rock into precise, geometrical shapes that are then set in mortar and used for construction purposes. These guys can work on many different kinds of construction projects, and thus may be required to use a variety of methods and techniques depending on what the client asks for.
For instance, they may use rubble masonry techniques, where roughly dressed stones are set in mortar, or ashlar masonry, where they are precisely cut and skilfully arranged.
Some stonemasons may get involved with the whole construction process. However, many specialise in one area. Banker masons tend to work in workshops, slicing and dicing rocks into simple and complex shapes depending on the building’s design. These guys use specialist tools and techniques, some of which have been used for hundreds of years.
Carvers are the most artistic kinds of stonemason. They use their artistic flair and practical skills to carve stone into intricate designs and flourishes, such as gargoyles and human figures. Fixer masons are the guys who fix the cut stones onto and into buildings. They need a head for heights and specialist skills in manipulating mortar and cement.
Some people even specialise as memorial masons, who carve gravestones, tombs and inscriptions. Not only do you need practical skills to undertake a career in stonemasonry, but a detailed knowledge of different stone types and how they can be worked on.
Bricklayers use specialist tools and materials to cut bricks to size, spread mortar and lay bricks, tiles and concrete in a uniform fashion to build structures. Bricklaying is a methodical practice and these jobs also require meticulous planning and preparation before the active bricklaying can be carried out.
Brickies may also be required to carry out more technical responsibilities, such as fastening terracotta veneers to the faces of structures using tie wires. Strong practical skills are essential, and, depending on the size of the structure being built, workers may need a good head for heights. Bricklaying work can also be quite physical, so strength and fitness is usually required for the more strenuous work.
Stonemasons are, of course, not to be confused with freemasons, or even stonecutters! Sorry if you’ve been let down by this fact, but we couldn’t lead you on. However, skilled careers in stonemasonry and bricklaying are nothing to be disappointed by, no ‘mortar’ how you look at them!