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By CareerOne | September 16, 2008
Sydney’s signature sandstone buildings remain in tip-top shape thanks to the handiwork of Heritage Building Services stonemason Daniel Lukic. From the QVB and St Mary’s Cathedral to Town Hall, Lukic has helped restore some of Sydney’s oldest and most significant buildings.
Stonemasons cut and shape blocks of limestone, sandstone, granite and marble to use in buildings and monuments.
Lukic is restoring parts of Central station, which was originally opened
“We are cleaning the stone with a method called gommage, which is almost like a sand-blasting process, and bringing the stone back to quite a new looking state,” he says.
Bits of stone that are too badly damaged are removed altogether.
“A lot of the copings and cappings on the top of the walls need replacing so we will work by hand to replace them,” Lukic says.
Despite it being one of the oldest trades in existence not many people know anything about it, he says.
“We use traditional techniques to carve the stone, so we are using a mallet and chisel but with new technology like tungsten,” he says.
Much of the work is done by hand, even with grinders and electric cutters available.
“With sandstone, and especially on heritage buildings, we have to do a lot by hand the traditional way,” Lukic says. “We can be working on one little stone for a week or longer so there is quite a lot of work involved.”
Lukic credits his father with getting him interested in masonry.
“My father was a carpenter and jack-of-all-trades and he was the first one to get me to appreciate workmanship of different kinds.”
It wasn’t until he was made redundant from his job as a sheet metal worker eight years ago that he took up stonemasonry.
After seeing a segment about a stonemason on TV “a light went off in my head,” he says.
He picked up the phonebook and scored an interview with the first company he spoke to. He was then signed on as an apprentice.
Lukic completed a Certificate III in Stonemasonry (Monumental/Installation) as part of his apprenticeship.
A NSW TAFE medal winner, he works as a relief teacher at TAFE’s Miller College.
“TAFE gives you a basic heads-up on everything and then you can choose your own field from there – whether you want to go into kitchens or monumental or heritage restoration,” Lukic says.
“Patience is one of the biggest requirements because of the nature of the work,” Lukic says. “It helps if you are on the strong side because you do a bit of heavy lifting. A passion for artistic things helps as well.”
How did you get your job? I had some friends who I went to TAFE with and they were working with Heritage Building Services and I ended up joining them.
Upside? The satisfaction of being able to leave your mark on an ancient building – ancient by Australian standards of course.
Downside? It can be dusty and noisy, but we wear all appropriate safety apparatus.
Kitchen benchtops sydney