Owing to the permanence of the material, stone work has survived which was created during our prehistory . Work carried out by paleolithic societies to create flint tools is more often referred to as knapping .

stone carving technique stone carving tools

The process of removing stone from the earth is called mining or quarrying . Stone carving is one of the processes which may be used by an artist when creating a sculpture . It is also a phrase used by archaeologists , historians , and anthropologists to describe the activity involved in making some types of petroglyphs . Often marks carved into rock or petroglyphs will survive where painted work will not.These earliest examples of the stone carving are the result of hitting or scratching a softer stone with a harder one, although sometimes more resilient materials such as antlers are known to have been used for relatively soft stone. Another early technique was to use an abrasive that was rubbed on the stone to remove the unwanted area. The reason for this is that bronze , the hardest available metal until steel, is not hard enough to work any but the softest stone. Carving tools have changed little since then. The expansion of the top surface due to the sudden increase in temperature causes it to break away. On an industrial scale, lasers are used.

Stone Carving Tools

Interview with Peter Rockwell on stoneworking tools, created by Thomas Wootton for the Art of Making in Antiquity project …

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. Other artists begin with a form already in mind and find a stone to complement 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 ready to carve, the artist usually begins by knocking off large portions of unwanted stone. For this task they 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.

Those two chisels are used in combination with a masons driving hammer . 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, usually in combination with a wooden mallet . 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. 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.

How To Carve Stone With Pictures

stone carving technique stone carving tools 1

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. Sculptures can be carved via either the direct or the indirect carving method. Sometimes a sketch on paper or a rough clay draft is made. Most types of stone are easier to find than metal ores, which have to be mined and smelted. Stone can be dug from the surface and carved with hand tools.

Stone is more durable than wood, and carvings in stone last much longer than wooden artifacts.

Stone comes in many varieties and artists have abundant choices in color, quality and relative hardness.

Limestones and marbles can be worked using abrasives and simple iron tools.

Granite , basalt and some metamorphic stone is difficult to carve even with iron or steel tools; usually tungsten carbide tipped tools are used, although abrasives still work well. Modern techniques often use abrasives attached to machine tools to cut the stone. Precious and semi-precious gemstones are also carved into delicate shapes for jewellery or larger items, and polished; this is sometimes referred to as lapidary , although strictly speaking lapidary refers to cutting and polishing alone. When worked, some stones release dust that can damage lungs (silica crystals are usually to blame), so a respirator is sometimes needed. Tools for rough shaping of stone, to form a block the size needed for the carving. These include feathers and wedges and pitching tools.

Chisels for cutting – such as lettering chisels, points, pitching tools, and claw chisels.

More advanced processes, such as laser cutting and jet torches , use sudden high temperature with a combination of cooling water to spall flakes of stone. Other modern processes may involve diamond-wire machines or other large scale production equipment to remove large sections of undesired stone. The use of chisels for stone carving is possible in several ways.

Sculpture and Carving

It shatters the stone beneath it and each successive pass lowers the surface. The lettering stroke, in which the chisel is used along the surface at approximately 30 degrees to cut beneath the existing surface. There are many types and styles of stone carving tools, each carver will decide for themselves which tools to use. Traditionalists might use hand tools only. Lettering chisels for incising small strokes create the details of letters in larger applications.

Fishtail carving chisels are used to create pockets, valleys and for intricate carving, whilst providing good visibility around the stone. Masonry chisels are used for the general shaping of stones.

Stone point tools are used to rough out the surface of the stone. Stone claw tools are used to remove the peaks and troughs left from the previously used tools.

Stone pitching tools are used to remove large quantities of stone. Stone nickers are used to split stones by tracing a line along the stone with progressive strikes until the stone breaks along the line.Progress on shaping stone is faster with pneumatic carving tools.

This type of tool creates the ability to ‘shave’ the stone, providing a smooth and consistent stroke, allowing for larger surfaces to be worked. They might skip over certain stages of work, therefore, or miss out others altogether. And though different tools are adapted to suit different stages of work this relationship is far from fixed. Sometimes the roundel is used in place of, or in addition to, a true flat chisel, while the drill is routinely employed for detailed work where depth is required. On fully-finished carvings, on which the final surface finish eradicates traces of the preceding stages of work, reconstructing this sequence of tool use is often impossible.

Introduction To Stone Carving Tools And Techniques

Instructor Treden Wagoner gives a basic overview of stone carving tools and demonstrates their use. This video was produced to …

In order to understand the progression from one tool to the next and the decisions made by the carver during these processes we are consequently reliant on part-finished objects.

Three examples from our dataset illustrate how this sequence can be broken down. The individual stages of work that the detailed elements of the mouldings on the right of this block went through are impossible to identify because these parts were largely finished. However, the unfinished left end provides a remarkable insight into the preparatory stages of carving on this project. Rasp marks are not clear on this side, though they can be identified in places on the front side of the chest. The tooth chisel is not used at all on this particular project, while the carver is quite happy to switch between rough work with the point and finer work with the flat chisel and roundel. There remains, in fact, a large amount of excess stone around the legs of this figure that still needed to be removed with the point. The presence of measuring points might indicate that the carver was working from a sketch or a maquette. These examples illustrate carving sequences, that is the way in which specific tools were used to undertake certain defined processes in order to achieve a particular result. However, the creation of a monument will involve a whole series of other processes, beyond carving, that also need to be considered. Once quarried, stone then needs to be transported to where it will be used. On building projects, stone blocks need to be lifted into place, a further process requiring specialist equipment and sometimes expert personnel. The different stages of carving can be undertaken at any point after the stone has been quarried: before it is transported, once it has been transported but before it is put in place, or even after it has been put in place.Finally, we should not forget that carving work often relies on precise planning or measuring carried out before any stone is removed and the desired effect is often only achieved via successive stages of finishing with abrasives, paint or even gilding. Sometimes the holes for these wedges were carved quite deeply and wooden wedges inserted which, when soaked in water, would expand and split the rock. The saw was occasionally also used for extracting material directly from a quarry face. It would have been positioned above an outcrop of stone and operated by two quarryman standing at either end, perhaps in specially cut separation trenches.

This would have been a useful tool for cutting thin panels of marble straight from the quarry face which would not then have needed much further working on their surfaces.

Most ancient quarries were opencast but occasionally, when particularly high-quality veins of stone were covered by a considerable overburden, stone was also extracted via underground galleries.

As a result, stone, once quarried, usually has to be transported some distance to the site at which it is to be put to use. Transporting a material as heavy as stone is far from easy. Quarries are often located in areas of steep terrain and ox-drawn carts suitable for the transport of stone blocks overland struggle on gradients of over 5%. Once material had been brought to an area flat enough to allow access to vehicles it then had to be loaded. Long distance transport of stone is much cheaper by sea than by land and it is infinitely preferable to be able to load blocks directly from quarry to ship than to have to transport it overland first. When the finished product has to closely resemble a specific subject or match another product (as in the case of architectural elements), this planning process might also require close measuring. In the case of major architectural elements, like monolithic columns, their precise proportions had to be carefully planned out before they were roughed-out and in some cases even before they were quarried. For this reason, such guidelines are most common on architectural projects, where very specific dimensions and proportions were required to ensure that different elements fitted together into a unified structure. Guidelines for fluting are a case in point. Fluting is a delicate operation which has to be done once the column shaft or drums are upright and it is vital that the flutes are carved parallel to each other. On each flute one of these lines was drawn using a plumb line suspended from a nail, the hole for which can still be seen in places.

While the circles could have been inscribed on the ground before the columns were erected, these vertical lines had to have been done after erection. To finish this guide framework horizontal lines were then added around the top and bottom of the flutes to mark out the maximum height of each flute and the point at which their upper curvature begins.

What Tools Will I Need To “Carve” Stone? Granite Marble Etc…Etc… [Archive

These lines are invisible from the ground and so were often left in place but performed a vital role in directing the carver, who must have been operating high on scaffolding. Using just their callipers they could take basic measurements from this strip, itself probably planned out using accurate dimensions.

There was no need for them to keep precise measurements in their head or have access to rulers or tape measures.

The extent to which models or drawings were used in this planning process remains much debated. Sculptors often use the pointing system to transfer measurements from a model in clay or plaster to stone, even when dealing with completely original works.

Rather than marks left by the pointing system, then, these raised knobs were probably reference points that the carver used to check the proportions of their work and its overall arrangement against some form of drawing or perhaps smaller model. Skilled carvers, who are used to working in this way, can produce three-dimensional statues from two-dimensional drawings.

The arrangement of the figure is essentially planned in two dimensions on the front and then side of the block with certain set reference points used throughout the carving process to ensure that the proportions are correct. Carving as a process can be divided into a whole series of lesser processes, each with their own specific goals and for each of which different tools are best suited. As with so much else in stone carving, these processes are not easily defined and many carvers see no obvious separation between them. Ashlar blocks for rough walls were often never carved beyond this stage and sometimes the rear sides of relief panels are left simply squared. This work would usually have been carried out with the point chisel, sometimes the quarry pick. This was usually the first stage of work that these objects went through. This is almost always undertaken with the point and results in the removal of the largest volume of stone of any stage of carving. Once these objects were removed from the bedrock they were often then roughed-out further in the quarry before being transported elsewhere. This work was intended to reduce the weight of each object as much as possible before transport but it also helped to identify faults within the stone which could jeopardise any future project. Roughed-out statues are rarer than either architectural elements or sarcophagi, perhaps because they could not be put to be put to use until they were finished. It was probably roughed-out at the quarry to be finished at its destination. This process was usually done with the point chisel, though for large spaces the quarry pick might have been used. Often this stage of work is skipped altogether as the carver goes straight from roughing-out to a finer level of shaping. This kind of rough shaping was done with the point chisel, tooth chisel, flat chisel or roundel. On architectural elements and some reliefs that were intended to be finely worked with the flat chisel or smoothed with the rasp or abrasives this first stage of shaping was often done fairly quickly with the point chisel. This could be a final level of finish if no further smoothing was required. These outlines are usually carved with the corner of a flat chisel, a roundel or sometimes a channelling tool. On reliefs it was important that the figures or other subject matter stand out from the background and to do this outlines were often carved around them, or at least part of them. Flattening here is defined as the rough working of a surface to provide a flat finish rather than a smooth one.Ashlar blocks in rough walls might be flattened on all sides without being smoothed, and often the bottom of relief panels which would have been hidden from view are simply flattened off. This kind of rough flattening was usually achieved with either a tooth chisel or flat chisel. This resulted in a surprisingly rough texture against which the smooth surfaces of the figures stood out and was evidently a deliberate stylistic choice. Sometimes careful flat chiselling was all that was required but in most cases a rasp, or sometimes a scraper, was used. A rasped finish also seems to have been the preferred surface for the application of paint. In most cases, the rasp was used to smooth drapery or skin surfaces.

There are different gradations of polish, ranging from a basic matt one to an extremely high gloss finish, which require progressively finer abrasives to achieve. Gloss polishing is typically limited to high-end portraits, of either emperors or members of the elite. The addition of inscriptions is usually a stage of work undertaken once all other carving on a monument has been completed. Letter-carvers are sometimes specialist craftsmen but this work could also be done by an ordinary carver if they were trained in it. The style of the letters varied considerably by region but also by period. This is true of free-standing statues, reliefs and architectural carvings.

8 Incredible Techniques and Processes For Working In Stone&Nbsp

Very little of this paint has survived and even where it can still be seen with the naked eye it is clear that ancient pigments deteriorated rapidly. A wide colour palette was achieved using a range of minerals, ground down and mixed together to create a spectrum of pigments which were then combined with various binders to help them adhere to the stone. Several shades of red were used, one made of ochre, umber, lead and copper and another also including cinnabar. The statue’s lips were painted red and carefully shaded while the skin of the face seems to have been given a light flesh colouring using a complex mix of pigments.

The hair, eyebrows, lips and eyes were also painted. Particular effects were sometimes achieved through the combination of different materials.

Why so few of the planned metal attachments were actually inserted is unclear but it might have been felt that too many weapons would have been distracting or even obscured too much of the relief. Quarrying, therefore, takes place before carving, and rough carving before surface finishing. Where these different processes are carried out is much more flexible. At least the final stages of carving on these monuments and their constituent elements –reliefs as well as architectural elements– would have been done on the building site and would, therefore, have had to fit into the wider construction project. There are several different ways in which material arriving on the building sites might have been handled. Blocks could arrive unworked, be shaped just enough to allow them to be put in place on the structure and then fully-finished, in most cases with the carver working on scaffolding. Alternatively they could be completely carved on the ground before being put in place. Since it would have been difficult to ensure that decoration passed uninterrupted between blocks a compromise between these two systems can be imagined, whereby carvers finished most of their work on the ground but left a strip of rough stone along the edge of any blocks with continuous decoration which could then be carved in place. When the object is a self-contained element, like a capital, then working it on the ground is generally easier for a carver. If it had to be erected so that the building could progress, however, then it would have to have been finished in place, and there is little a carver could do about this.

More complex carvings, however, that passed across multiple blocks were perhaps always easier done in place, so that the carver did not have to worry about lining up details across blocks or worry about causing damage to the edge of blocks.

Close examination of the carving across the juncture of blocks can provide an insight into which of these approaches was most common. In fact, since the whole monument is composed of blocks in a range of sizes, and sometimes even forms, it seems most likely that the structure was essentially built before any of the decorative carving began. However, in this case the place where these reliefs were carved depended on the speed with which the rest of the project was progressing.Other objects were re-used for different purposes.

Sarcophagi were useful containers and were often re-used as tombs.

Several forms of restoration can be identified, some beginning surprisingly early. Recognising these differences, and extrapolating data from them, is crucial to understanding stoneworking on a macro and micro level. In the final essay, the individuals involved in this process are then considered in more detail, so as to strike the balance between the production of large monuments and the role of the artist-craftsman within them. La construction romaine: matériaux et techniques . Roman building: materials and techniques .Parian quarries, marble and workshops of sculpture. The art of stoneworking: a reference guide. Meaning that a 1 m3 block of marble weights roughly the same as large family car. Stone is different from other mediums in that it’s difficult to shape perfectly because of its density and unpredictability. Carving stone requires patience and planning. Use these steps as a stone-carving guide.

How To Carve Rock Or Stone

Soapstone’s texture resembles a dry bar of soap and is extremely malleable. Use soapstone if you are making a small sculpture that won’t be easily damaged if you accidentally scratch or nudge it. You can find soapstone and other soft rocks at a local stone carving supplies stores.

Buy alabaster for the best combination of durability and malleability. Although alabaster is generally harder than soapstone, it still carves easily. An alternative to alabaster is limestone, which carves easily and regularly but is not available in a wide range of colors (typical limestone comes in different shades of grey). Limestone is slightly harder and doesn’t polish as well as alabaster. Avoid very hard stones like granite and marble. Carving these stones requires specialized tools like electric grinders and hammers.

Granite and marble are usually sculpted in large quantities since they are most optimal for statues and other large items that require durability. Working with large slabs of hard stones requires very strenuous effort. Carving is a subtractive process, not an additive one. Unlike adding more paint to a portrait, carving involves taking away stone to create the piece’s shape. Limit your stone size to something you will finish in a relatively short time.

3. Stoneworking Techniques and Processes

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The suggested size of stone blocks for sculpting is 15-25 lbs.

Blocks that are smaller than 15 lbs will break if carved with a hammer and chisel. Any larger, and completing your sculpture will take much longer than you desire. If you intend on using soapstone to sculpt a heart-shaped pendant, then you can most likely work with a block well under 15 lbs.

Just remember that you will most likely have to use other, less accurate tools like harder rocks or a file to shape it. You will also have fewer chances to correct any mistakes you accidentally make during the carving process.

Inspect your stone for cracks and fissures.

Since you’re working with natural materials, it won’t be unusual to experience structural flaws.

Finding a stone with few flaws will reduce the likelihood that your stone will break when carving. Cracks and fissures are sometimes easiest to see when the stone is wet. Use a spray bottle or sprinkle water over your stone. If the block makes a “ringing” sound, there is a higher chance that your stone is solid in the area you are hitting it.genaStone
Owing to the permanence of the material, stone work has survived which was created during our prehistory . Work carried out by paleolithic societies to create flint tools is more often referred to as knapping . The process of removing stone from the earth is called mining or quarrying ....