View Full Version : Stone sculpting - just starting out
02-11-2006, 01:30 PM
I am an experienced sculptor. I want to start sculpting stone. Should I just jump in and start with marble or should I be using something else at first?
02-12-2006, 02:28 PM
I've heard many different opinions about which stone should be the "starter stone". I started with soapstone and am now moving to alabaster (and then to marble, if I can afford it) because I work predominantly with hand tools (although I imagine this will change when I get to marble). I've heard persons express surprise that I would bother with such a process, and others still consider "soft-stone carvers" and "hard-stone carvers" to be completely different.
If it is possible, you may want to buy a small piece of marble and a small piece of some other stones and find out which you prefer. If not, starting with the stone to which you have easiest access is also a good pragmatic option.
02-12-2006, 04:57 PM
Like Julianna, I followed the soapstone> alabaster> marble path, with a foray into sandstone for monumental work.
02-22-2006, 02:12 AM
I too am new to the art of stone scuplting ( and love it!), but I fear you all may be missing a very important and very basic point. My father taught me at a very young age (and I quote) "Keep your eye on the ball !" he also said "As you swing the hammer watch the nail not the hammer." My father, though not perfect by any strech of the imagination did manage to help keep me from destroying my fingers. If you think about it those words are invaluable...how many carpenters are there worldwide? And how many use a GUARD?!? Pardon my rudeness but, suck it up and keep your eye on the ball.
02-22-2006, 06:06 AM
Try and find what type of stone speaks to you. Make that your choice. I started with limestone, then wood for a number of years (still doing wood) and have taken stone up again of late. The last year or so have meant forages into hard stone such as nephrite jade. I haven't tried soapstone; but, I believe that is a good one to start with. I've also dabbled in some marble and found it quite responsive. I think limestone is also good for starting, or sandstone. Really, what is most important is what speaks to you personally. Find that and you'll find what's best for you to start with.
All the best,
02-22-2006, 11:03 AM
I agree that limestone is a good stone to begin carving on. For one thing, it is the most common stone on the planet, so finding some locally is usually not a problem. Sandstone tends to be hard on steel tools, and also the lungs. Soapstone, and alabaster, while soft, tend to have a layered, or plate structure that can be frustrating to a novice, (or experienced carver for that matter), particularly if being worked with hammer and chisel. Good carving marble is not generally found in one's back yard unless one happens to live next to a quarry. I usually recommend that a novice not invest a lot of money in tools and material until they are sure stone carving is really the direction they want to go. My first carving utilized a piece of limestone from the pasture behind the house, and a couple of masons chisels and a cabinet makers rasp from the local hardware store. Hard to believe that 25 years have gone by, and the incredible collection of tools and stone that have accumulated since then.
02-26-2006, 05:13 AM
I started with alabster because of the color, the ease of workability, and the surprise factor. The surprise factor is that I knew what the final sculpture would look like but at the end there was always a pleasant surprise waiting for me in the design. Maybe a speck of color or a wave of the grain that made the sculpture that much better.
I now work in Indiana Limestone. Very nice working stone. It is even and has few fissures.
Try a variety of stones. The easiest way to really get a feel for the stone you like is to go to a place like Montoya Stone in West Palm Beach. Take a class in stone carving. For the 5 day class, try ouut 4-5 maybe even 6 different types of stone. You will find your preferences or at least where you would like to start with stone very quickly.
02-26-2006, 05:43 AM
Plaster mixed with perlite or other plant additive pored in a plastic lined box will give you a nice block to practice with point, chisels and rasp. After that I agree with limestone particularily Indiana limestone, it is even medium in hardness, takes texture and polishes to a honed finish. Marble can frustrate a beginner.
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