Stone sculpture


Stone sculpture

Stone sculpture is the result of forming 3-dimensional visually interesting objects from stone.Carving stone into sculpture is an activity older than civilization itself. Prehistoric sculptures were usually human forms, such as the Venus of Willendorf and the faceless statues of the Cycladic cultures of ancient Greece. Later cultures devised animal, human-animal and abstract forms in stone. The earliest cultures used abrasive techniques, and modern technology employs pneumatic hammers and other devices. But for most of human history, sculptors used hammer and chisel as the basic tools for carving stone.

The process begins with the selection of a stone for carving. Some artists use the stone itself as inspiration; the Renaissance artist Michelangelo claimed that his job was to free the human form trapped inside the block. Other artists begin with a form already in mind and find a stone to compliment their vision. The sculptor may begin by forming a model in clay or wax, sketching the form of the statue on paper or drawing a general outline of the statue on the stone itself.

When he is ready to carve, the artist usually begins by knocking off large portions of unwanted stone. For this task he may select a point chisel, which is a long, hefty piece of steel with a point at one end and a broad striking surface at the other. A pitching tool may also be used at this early stage; which is a wedge-shaped chisel with a broad, flat edge. The pitching tool is useful for splitting the stone and removing large, unwanted chunks. The sculptor also selects a mallet, which is a hammer with a broad, barrel-shaped head. The artist places the point of the chisel or the edge of the pitching tool against a selected part of the stone, then swings the mallet at it with the strongest possible stroke. He must be careful to strike the end of the tool accurately; the smallest miscalculation can damage the sculptor’s hand. When the mallet connects to the tool, energy is transferred along the tool, shattering the stone. Most sculptors work rhythmically, turning the tool with each blow so that the stone is removed quickly and evenly. This is the “roughing out” stage of the sculpting process.

Once the general shape of the statue has been determined, the sculptor uses other tools to refine the figure. A toothed chisel or claw chisel has multiple gouging surfaces which create parallel lines in the stone. These tools are generally used to add texture to the figure. An artist might mark out specific lines by using calipers to measure an area of stone to be addressed, and marking the removal area with pencil, charcoal or chalk. The stone carver generally uses a shallower stroke at this point in the process. The roughing-out stage requires direct contact with the stone at a 90 degree angle, but with refining strokes the sculptor holds the tool at an angle of 45 degrees or less.

Rough block form

Eventually the sculptor has changed the stone from a rough block into the general shape of the finished statue. Tools called rasps and rifflers are then used to enhance the shape into its final form. A rasp is a flat, steel tool with a coarse surface. The sculptor uses broad, sweeping strokes to remove excess stone as small chips or dust. A riffler is a smaller variation of the rasp, which can be used to create details such as folds of clothing or locks of hair.

Rough block forms of unfinished statuary are known, and are in museums. Notable are the Akhenaten, Amarna Period statuary found at Akhetaten. One known sculptor, Thutmose (sculptor), has his entire shop excavated at Akhetaten, with many unfinished block forms.

Final stages

The final stage of the carving process is polishing. Sandpaper can be used as a first step in the polishing process, or sand cloth. Emery, a stone that is harder and rougher than the sculpture media, is also used in the finishing process. This abrading, or wearing away, brings out the color of the stone, reveals patterns in the surface and adds a sheen. Tin and iron oxides are often used to give the stone a highly reflective exterior.

Other Stone Sculpture

Asthall Manor has a biennial exhibition "on form"; a showcase for sculpture in stone.
Stephen Kettle is notable as a sculptor who creates stone statues by stacking stone fragments.

ee also

*List of stone
*Marble sculpture
*Stone carving
*Stoneware
*Statues of Gudea; 2120 BC, "Extreme" polishing of the Gudea statues.


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