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The how and whys of carving

view:author:Magic Stoneupdate:2012/09/27

The how and whys of carving

Don't just follow the contours of the stone since all that will happen is the stone will get smaller and smaller. Instead try to accentuate the stone. Make the low points a lot lower while leaving the high points high. I have observed in the art classes I attended that this is very hard for some people to do. Do not be afraid to go for it. It is only a rock UNTIL you shape it. After the rough shape has emerged you use the next chisel (called a claw chisel) to further refine the shape and to remove the lines left by the point. This is where you start to get excited, things are taking shape.
 
Once you have removed the lines left by the point and have roughed out the shape using the claw you can use the toothed chisel to remove the lines left by the claw. See what's happening? Each step is designed to further smooth the stone. For marble it is very important to follow these steps. For the softer stones such as soapstone you may skip back and forth as seems best. For example, I do not like using the claw on soapstone and go from the point right to the toothed.
 
Now the flat chisel comes into play. This is the chisel that will save you a lot of work later if done right. The flat chisel is used to remove the lines of the toothed chisel ONLY. If you try to remove stone with it you will chip off pieces and the surface will not be smooth (This can be a desirable effect if you want to texture a softer stone this way, experiment on a scrap piece to see what happens).
 
The reason this chisel will save you work is because the next tool to use is a rasp or a riffler. These are used to smooth out the final chisel marks and to carve out fine detail that the chisels are too course for. They are not for removing mass amounts of stone although inexperienced carvers often use them this way. These tools are designed to work in one direction only (forwards) and a "seesaw action" will only wear you out and cause your tool to dull prematurely.
 
Next comes the file. One of my favorites is available at any hardware stone as a wood rasp. It has course and rough, flat and rounded sides. I have worn a couple of them out but they are inexpensive and one of my favorites. Use the file to (again) remove the rasp or riffler marks.
 
At this time you may see some white spots in the stone. These may be bruises and can only be removed by chiseling or rasping deeper into the stone, which may change the shape. Its better to be careful while chiseling to avoid them.

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