All You Need To Know About Stone Carving!
Stone carving is the art of telling a story in a block of natural stone. The artist discovers the image that has been covered for ages in the natural elements of the stone. With the help of many small carving tools, the artist starts his journey in this difficult and complicated adventure of days or months of hard work with a hammer and chisels, uncovering the mysterious images compressed by time in the middle of the calcium or sand that give the form of the natural rock...
Carved In Stone using Indiana Limestone for the Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh Fine Art project
The prehistoric artist had a very difficult time figuring out how to carve in stone. The artist probably threw one rock against another and one broke into a fine shape, suggesting a mammoth. That is what he was thinking of; he probably continued to strike with a small rock to perfect his piece. His family probably thought he was losing his mind; he probably was very hungry...
In the beginning of humanity, people were illiterate; therefore, sculpture was used as an element to spread knowledge, explaining to others concepts, events, and stories in the most attractive way possible.
sculpture will stand for ever
How stone carving chisels were Created: true history?
True history: natural stone has long been one of the mediums for sculpture. The artist learns what type of stone is better than others, what will polish better, or what colors will go well with another, as well as what type of stone will be best for outdoor or indoor projects...
The art of stone sculpture has declined in the last 80 or 100 years. With new technology, it may continue to be replaced by different materials like epoxy and metals. But stone sculpture can never be replaced completely, because the action of creating an image out of simple stone is magical. History has proved this since the cave dwellers and today we are still attracted to this amazing medium.
Art will stand the test of time
The art of stone carving has gained the nickname of the “lost art” because there are not many stone sculptors in the world. The main problem is time and money. Time, because everything is moving at a fast pace and creating a hand carved sculpture will take weeks or months. The customer is unlikely to be interested in spending a high sum for a product that could be replaced by casting or with a simple, more economical one. The industry is developing new technologies and new ways to create amazing sculptures by CNC(what do these letters stand for? Computer something carving?), so the need of stone carving has declined and with that the desire of becoming a carver as well.
It is great is to be part of the high status society of stone sculptors. You share the feeling of the great stone sculptors like the classical, Renaissance and Baroque artists. They created an amazing amount of work standing today in most of the museums in the world. Just think about the action of transforming a solid rock into a beautiful three dimensional image, fulfilling your life and your dreams.
how the great artis of the pass created stone sculpture
The great artists of the past created sculptures in beautiful white marble, taking the time and patience necessary to tell the story in a solid piece of stone. They created this beautiful artwork that gives you the desire to touch to see if someone has been petrified. In the movies, for example, the wicked queen in Narnia transforms her enemies into amazing stone sculptures. The movie director had the same vision as you when you stand in front of beautiful marble sculpture.
In a sculpture created by the great sculptor Antonio Canova, "Ugolino and his Sons" you see the drama. The father is in the center and he is surrounded by his sons in the midst of waiting for a painful death. This is a very dramatic sculpture that in a glance will give you all the emotions expressed by Jean Baptiste Carpeaux Canova Can’t find Canovas’s version. It’s Carpeaux at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Canova did many, many classical pieces!) with his hammer and chisels. This piece helps us imagine how this great sculpture was rendered in stone long ago by Antonio Canova with hammer and chisels. Using his art and being a skilled sculptor, he “discovers” the completed scene standing right in front of you in the New York Metropolitan Museum.
Canova transformed one simple block of white marble cut from a solid mountain into a jewel to your eyes, giving you many emotions and telling you the dramatic story of Ugolino.
That is what stone sculpture is, the imaginative and skillful interpretation of experience in an esthetic object. It has played important roles throughout history, as humanity attempts to master and enjoy the environment and to liberate themselves.
To be a stone sculptor is a privilege that few people are able to handle.
Ugulino and His Sons the Pisan traitor Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, his sons, and his grandsons were imprisoned in 1288 and died of starvation. Carpeaux's visionary statue, executed in 1865–67
The Best Types Of Stone For Stone Carving
Saint John the Baptist Indiana Limestone Two River Wisconsin
I have read that the ancients, when they had produced a sound, used to modulate it, heightening and lowering its pitch without departing from the rules of harmony. So must the artist do in working at the nude. "Antonio Caova"
How Difficult Is To Carve In Stone
How much hard work it takes to created a stone sculpture?
The new artist wants something that could be done in a few days or hours; we are losing the art of patience and also to give the best of ourself to create something that will stand forever like the art pieces created by the great sculptors of the past...
The new artists are not much interested in hard work spent with a hammer and a chisel, creating an art piece to tell the world their story. They don't want to take the time to discover the images hiding in this rough block of stone.
We could say that new artists don't have the opportunity to learn the art of stone carving. There are not many stone classes available: some are in private shops and they could be expensive because the artist may need to travel or spend money on hotels.
The internet is a game changer and new doors are open to learn the lost art of stone carving.
How can you learn stone carving?
Now you can learn all the basics about carving in stone for free, in the comfort of your home, in your own time.
You want to learn all the secrets of the grand masters, how they create amazing stone sculptures you see in special .
Join me in this Free Videos Course of how to carve stone and you will have knowledge about the materials, tools, and most importantly how to start carving in stone.
Stone carving has been part of culture since the beginning of time and is something that we should not allow to vanish.
The art of stone carving could re-born, but we need a few Michaelangelos or Berninis that will take the challenge of going into battle with a hammer in one hand and in the other a chisel, to dominate the heavy, cool stone and bring it into new life that will stand forever in the midst of the world.
If you think you don't have the desire or availability to become a sculptor, you may be one because you are reading this blog. You have the heart for it, and all stone sculptors need people like you to support and help us in this battle of creating beautiful art out of stone.
carving a Fish in stone
How to carve in stone
It is not that complicated, but is hard work as I said before. If you study and practice you will be able to master the process.
To carve in stone you are going to need some material of the best type for the sculpture you going to create.
You are going to need some tools: I dedicated a separate Post to pneumatic stone tools.
In general, stone carving tools include special hand tools. This second blog will help you have knowledge of all the tools available and the best for stone sculpture.
The video is about all the tools necessary to start carving in stone.
Hand Stone Carving Tools
You need to select a block of stone; some artists select the block of stone at a stone company, but that is difficult if your stone suppliers are miles away. Most stone companies check all the stone before they sell to you. In the past I worked with a few stone companies in Alabama and it was their practice to inspect the block or slabs for cracks before they were sold.
Things to consider: one of the obstacles of stone carving is the weight of the stone. Limestone weighs about 120 lbs per cubic foot, marble around 150 lbs per cubic foot. You are going to need a forklift, a crane or like in Michaelangelo’s time a lot of friends and workers and many horses to pull the stone in place to start carving.
My favorite sculptors that I study day after day are Michaelangelo, Bernini, and Canova. They stood in front of a beautiful block of marble to develop a story to share with humanity. They believed these moments of expression were the magical way to preserve the story of humanity.
Steps necersary to Start Carving in stone
Handling Stone You also need to remember that even though this material is hard, since it is rock, it can break very easily. I have seen slabs of stone broken in pieces through mishandling. You can also injure yourself, so be careful when it’s time to move any stone. This is serious business.
After we take care of that step, let’s go to the carving process.
What you need to carve You will need stone carving tools and techniques you will find out in this blog stone carving chisels
Design So you are going to need a design. Remember that prior to your purchase of your stone, you have a design or idea in order to know the dimensions of your stone.
It’s best to have a clear idea of what you are creating. You could make a few drawings or even make a clay model. When you create a clay model, you will resolve problems before you start carving or purchase your stone. You should make a clay model first even if you are studying your sculpture.
The past great sculptors like Antonio Canova. He was able to create amazing hyper realistic stone sculptures out of marble by creating models and copying them into a block of stone, using a pointing machine.
Watch this video of how to use a pointing machine
A pointing machine is the best tool to transfer your clay or plaster model onto your stone block. This video will show how this device works and how you can make your on.
A pointing machine is a great tool created to take measurements of your clay model to transfer onto your stone block in order to create the sculpture. With the clay model you resolve all the problems like proportion, composition, action and how the sculpture will appear to the public. Some artists think this is kind of cheating but it is not. Your model is your own creation. The clay or plaster model is a study to create you masterpiece, the same as when an oil painter creates a sketch or study of the piece he is going to paint.
You can see in the original models of Canova that the final sculpture may change and become 10 times better, so it is not cheating, just using the resources available to you to create better art for generations to come.
canova pointing study
how to transfer your design into the stone
Now you know all about creating models and using pointing machines. Let’s go over how to start carving.
You transfer your design using a pencil or permanent marker; sometimes you could use acrylic paint. To start, it’s best to use a permanent marker. Don't worry about the surface; the marker only penetrates a little, and you are going to carve away the surface any way. I used a plastic sheet to make my drawings because they will not be destroyed by moisture or tear apart like paper. You can use permanent marker to draw your design like I do.
You will use a saw to cut large sections to be removed by your hand tools.
What Kind Of Saw Do You Need?
Makita 16 Inch Circular Beam Saws. For your Carvings in a Stone or Wood Carvings watch this Video to find out how great it works.
If you have a simple 7 inch circular saw it will do the job. You will need a diamond blade or a masonry cutting blade. The sides of the blade will determine how deep you cut into your stone. There are many types of hand saw on the market from gasoline-powered engine to a chainsaw for stone. You need to ask yourself for what task you need this saw. For example, if you have a large slab and want to cut a straight edge the free hand saw will be a challenge. You will not be able to cut a straight edge with a 90 degree angle, so the best choice is the circular saw or a skill saw that can cut 6 inches in depth. You need a straight edge; the simple way to create the straight edge is using a 2x4 lumber clamped to the stone. This circular saw is great for straight edge or free hand cuts.
After you cut away the materials, you are going to remove more excess stone you don't need. For this job, you need a hand set stone tool which will break large chunks out of the stone block or slab by striking it with a four pound hammer .
You can rough out your sculpture faster by using a point chisel. They are great tools, considered hard workers because they take care of the big stuff fast; it is the main tool to use for stone sculpture.
Hand chopper stone carving tools
Hand Chopper to created straight edges in your stone.
The hand chopper is a great tool to create a straight edge in any type of stone when it is struck with the proper size hammer. This type of tool is preferred by most of the stone masons when they need a nice clean edge on any job. This stone tool can be used for regular flat stone surfaces or polished surfaces.
You apply the stone carving chisels in the smooth, flat surface only so the blade is placed at a slight angle and then struck with the desired size of hammer. If you prefer three to four pounds remember the bigger hammer is going to transfer more power through the head of your hand chopper and with it you can break bigger pieces or a long straight edge.
Hand Tracer stone carving tools
Hand Traced You Will Created Straight Lines In Your Stone
Hand Traced Stone carving chisel
Hand tracer: the main function of this tool is to create a straight line across the surface of any type of stone and with the help of the strike of a hammer you will break the desired piece off. It is also used to mark a line across the large stone block to use as a guide for drilling holes for the purpose splitting the stone with the use of feathers and plugs. The stone should split following the line from the hand traced stone mason tools.
With these types of handsets of stone carving tools you are able to quickly rough out the big amounts of stone you don't need in your project. After you remove most of the stone using this type of carving chisels, you go to the next type of stone carving tools to work the surface to the next stage.
Hand Point stone carving tools
Hand Point are the hard working tools you could rough out the entire sculpture
Point Chisels. After you take the most of stone using the stone mason tools now you need to move to the next type of stone carving tools that are the most traditional tools. Great artists like Antonio Canova, Bernini, Michaelangelo cleaned the entire sculpture with this type of stone carving tool, not an electric power tool, or fancy grinder or saws to get the job done. These great artists used the point tool do the work.
The hand point chisels are the master of the stone
The point chisel or punch is the tool that does the hardest work. You can remove a lot of material quickly with the right size point chisels, as they come in different sizes from 3/8" to 1". The 1" is a great size because its feels great in your hand and will resist the impact of the four pound stone carving hammer. The best is to get as long as the manufacturer can make it. Trow and Holden will custom make an extra long chisel that works fantastically for marble or limestone.
The four pound hammer against your point chisel is going to mushroom the head toward the point. If you are going to use it day after day it’s recommended that you get the extra long and purchase more than one. The tip can break with hard work and you don't want to wait 4 to 10 days to get another one. It has happened to me.
The point stone carving tools are manufactured in carbon steel as well in carbide steel; the carbide is recommended as best for granite but you can use them on any type of stone.
The point chisels will give you the chance to sketch the entire sculpture. Remember that if it is too close to the finished surface, especially in white marble, it will leave a white mark called bruising of the stone so you need to dress up in the finishing steps of your sculpture.
You can also purchase a pneumatic point chisel for your pneumatic hammer. I have used a pneumatic 1/4" hand chisel that I filled with extra bracing to create the shape of a bullet. It changed the straight edge for a real curve bull nose and will break true the stone surface like limestone or marble very well.
Claw stone carving tools
The claw stone tool is created to break true the stone surface very well due to many points on the cutting edge.
Claw stone Chisels are the cleaning machine. Imagine that they are multiple point chisels together so they break the stone true very well, they are used most after the rough surface created by the point chisels or the hand sets.
The Claw Sone Tool
They come in different sizes and styles: you can find them with a small claw or with a large claw. The larger claw shape has a fine point that will break the stone true. This is fantastic, due to many points in the edge that will get in contact with the stone. Usually the carbide will resist more hard work than the carbon steel, so the larger and more pointed the claws are, the faster they will take away large scale pieces of stone, However, they will create a rough surface, which is why the next type with a less pointed or a flat edge will help you to get close to the final surface of your sculpture.
They are available for pneumatic hammer, for a steel hammer and as well for a nylon or wood mallets.
The wood mallets or nylon chisels have a larger head that is round to prevent damage. You will have minimum damage with the long period of use that is normal.
This tool comes in different sizes from very small like 1/4" to 3 1/2". You can purchase these tools in carbon tempered steel or carbide steel, the latter holding the cutting edge longer and having a longer life if used properly. Carbide is a hard steel but it can break as well. Some manufacturers guarantee the tools for life.
Flat stone carving tools
Flat Chisels create a smooth surface in the stone sculpture that can be the final stage of your project.
Flat stone tools are the surface creator, bringing the sculpture to life.
This tool will clean the marks of the claw chisels or point chisels and give that final look to your sculpture. You could leave your sculpture with the finish of the flat chisels, depending on what type of stone you are working with. If it is marble or granite, you can give it a very polished surface using a water grinder with polishing pads that come in different grit from 40 grit up to 4000 or 6000 grit.
This type of chisel is also manufactured in different sizes, available in carbon tempered steel or carbide. Some manufacturers, especially the Italians, will make this tool extra long. The flat chisels are made as well to use with the pneumatic hammer, and for nylon or wood mallets.
Bull Nose stone carving tools
Bull Nose Chisels are designed for creating any type of curves in the stone surface like a gouge.
Bullnose chisels will replace the job of a gouge chisel in wood carving, but you can also buy gouges for stone carving. For some reason it’s easy to use the bull nose in stone and more traditional than the gouge. The name was given because it resembles the look of the bull nose that is flat and round to the side.
These chisels are designed for creating curves on the stone surface; you could also use gouges, but most of the time the bull nose is used instead. They come in different sizes and different curves as well. If you need to create a bullnose you can use a flat chisel and create the arc with the grinder.They are manufactured in carbon steel or carbide as well.
Gauge stone carving tools
Stone Carving Gouges to create any type of arc or curve on the stone surface.
Stone carving gouges are created for the same type of job as the bull nose, to create any type of arc or curves on the stone surface. There are not too many on the market, mostly due to the difficulty of giving the carbide the shape of the curve of the gouge. It is difficult to find different sizes.
If you need some, there are sculptors who use wood carving gouges for stone carving; you will lose the sharp cutting edge created for wood carving, but they work very well for stone, especially soft stones like limestone.
Fishtail stone carving tools
Fishtail stone tools are created with a special cutting edge in the shape of a fish tail. Their main purpose is to help clean or work in areas that require using the corner of your chisels. They are manufactured in different types and styles in claw chisel and flat chisels as well.
Bend stone carving tools
Bent Stone tools’ main purpose is to reach difficult areas where the straight chisels can’t
Bent stone tools are created to carve areas that need special reach not possible with regular flat or claw chisels. There are not many on the market, but you can make your own by using a torch to heat the body of the tool in the desired spot to be bent. You need to consider that the temper of your tool is going to be lost, so you need to re-temper again, make sure you choose a long chisel to start with.
Carbide may resist the heat, but don't cool off the chisels after bending. Don't dip in any cool liquid, as the carbide will break or crack. Sometimes you will not notice until you are using it, when a piece will come off. This is also true for sharpening; don’t cool the chisels in any liquid if the tip of the chisels is carbide. If it’s carbon steel you need to dip in a cool liquid; if not you will burn or lose your temper edge.
Power chisels like pneumatic air chisels are available in many different sizes and styles. This type needs an entire blog so you get the best information about it. This blog is dedicated to this type of tools click in this link to learn more about Pneumatic Stone Tools where you will find what kind are available and how to use them in this video below.
Pneumatic Stone Carving Chisels are essential for Stone Carving they will make the process more enjoyable
Types of stone for stone carving
Limestone is a great stone to use. The main ingredient is calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the form of the mineral calcite and it does not affect you too badly, but if you are producing a lot of dust, always wear a mask.
This natural stone is a fantastic stone to create any type of stone sculpture. Is the easiest to work with, fantastic for construction in building churches or any type of architectural application. It’s also recommended for any interior design applications like fireplaces, counter tops, any ornamental carvings and floors.
There are many types available in the market some are softer than others. Also, there is a great variety of colors.
In the USA you will find:
The Indiana limestone is quarried in three different colors: you can purchase gray, a cool gray color is one of the most popular, useful for any architectural application with an economical cost.
The variety gray is a combination of gray and buff colors. You will find a mix of this type of colors is not that popular because of this characteristic. It is very economical as well.
The select buff this is great limestone, more dense and light in color, the best for stone sculpture. You can obtain a smooth surface, but you can't polish it. Most limestone will not polish. This type is less popular because the price is higher, but for carving it’s worth it. You have to consider the colors. If your project uses all gray, you have to see if the color change affects the design of the final product.
The most attractive of this type of limestone is a warm yellow ochre color with a gray mix.
Creating a stone sculpture is fantastic due to the soft surface. Sometimes you have to be aware of clusters or holes, so keep that in mind.
Marble is great to work as well,with almost the same properties as limestone. It’s best to take care of yourself, especially when you are cutting the stone with a dry saw without water or using the type of tool that produces the most dust. Air hammers will not produce a lot.
Sandstone’s main ingredient is silica; when you are exposed for a long period to a lot of dust it can affect your lungs with a disease called silicosis. The lungs are not able to break down the dust particles and it will affect your respiratory system. If you are working with sandstone, it is a good idea to wear a mask at all times.