My First Sculpting Workshop

My First Sculpting Workshop

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a stone sculpting workshop. The workshop was held by Elizabeth, a friend of mine. She specializes in stone sculpting. I learnt quite a great deal from her on sculpting. Stone sculpture is the art of creating three dimensional and visually interesting objects out of stone.

The sculpting is a process where natural stone in rough form is shaped by controlled removal of stone. Due to the stonework being permanent, its presence can be dated back to some of the earliest civilizations. You can see stone sculptures in Egypt, India, and Greece and in Europe too. Rock engravings or Petroglyphs were the earliest types of stone works created by humans.  The engravings were done by pecking, incising, abrading, and carving the stone.

Stone sculpture includes monumental sculpture, which consists of larger works and the architectural sculpture, which is related to buildings. Carving done on semi-precious stones including agate, jade, rock crystal and carnelian, and onyx is another form of stonework. Sometimes mineral gypsum or alabaster, which is of softer consistency, is also carved to produce smaller art works.

While sculpting stone, you need to use proper safety equipment such as respirator or dust masks. Elizabeth recommended using a respirator for working indoors and while using rotary tools. She mentioned that sometimes she has to work for long periods continuously to get a particular work done. She doesn’t get tired however because she uses proper protein supplements purchased at, which improves her stamina a great deal.

My First Sculpting WorkshopA face shield or good safety glasses are must too. Other protective tools to have include, steel toe boots and work gloves. You also require hearing protection, when you use power tools. Since the workshop I attended was for beginners, we did not use much of the power tools, but rather learnt the basic sculpting methods. If you intend to buy the tools, ensure that they are of industrial grade. Some basic tools to have include, masonry rod saw, rasps of straight type, and rifler rasps. Diamond and carbide rasps are better than steel rasps, while working on harder stones.

Other tools include files of straight type and some rifler files too. Chisels, which everyone associates with stone sculpting is used for working with granite or marble only. For the softer stones, they are however not needed. Elizabeth advised me to carve first on soapstone, before using the chisel. And sanding paper is another necessary thing to have. You need to buy both wet and dry. All the above tools are readily available in hardware stores.

I was however interested in the power tools. The power tools are for working fast and needed when you scale up your work and when you work on harder stone types. The rotary tools with foot pedal for controlling speed and flexible shaft last for longer periods, if they are of good quality. And there are the air tools, which are durable and versatile. You can use different sizes of angle grinders, polishers, sanders, engravers etc. But to operate the air tools, you need a powerful compressor.