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My Initiation into Stone Carving, Almost

Sooner or later I will sculpt a realist stone figure. When I do, I’ll rightly claim to have never before sculpted one, not that I’ve never tried to shape stone.

There was that time when I was ten or so when I took an old rock and used a hammer and nail to incise the shapes of thunderbird representations and such into it’s surface. Then I rubbed dirt in the grooves, ‘found it’ and presented the discovery to my parents who pondered how to get it into a museum owing to it’s obvious antiquity.

Revealing this could set me up to be accused of fraud from a very early age. In that case, I deny everything.

Then there was the slate I got possession of which could be shaped with pocket knife and rasp to make a spear head. That was fun.

And I was given a hand sized chunk of soap stone which I carved into the shape (sort-of more-or-less kinda) of a bison when I was in high school. Did that one with a pocket knife also.

Moving forward, I carved an oaken feelie for an art class in college. In that same class I formed a little leopard of brown victory casting wax and have the lost wax casting still in my possession. In welding school I added a copper base and palm tree.

That’s it. Did a little bit of relief carving and jewelry baubles along the way. But that’s it. Oh, and there was that chunk of soap stone that I thought kind of looked like a cat head so I shaved a bit off to enhance the look.

Now I’m ready to actually carve stone. I’ve been reading about marble and alabaster and have begun to be familiar with the stuff as far as is possible without actually having any.

The all too sensible counsel I get is to maybe try learning on some cheaper material. You know – work up to it.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered a white stone in my flower bed that looked like granite.

I ordered stone carving chisels and waited, still reading what ever I could to know the lay of the land where sculpting stone is involved.

When the chisels came, I went out where the stone was waiting and promptly dulled one of the chisels on it.

Consulting with my geologist son in law, I learned how to obtain a hardness test. It’s a nail.

Nails are a five or six on the hardness scale. Carving stones should be softer than a nail. So if I take a nail to the rock and the rock gains a metal streak, the rock is too hard. If the nail makes a gouge mark, the stone might have a future with me. We could do a make over.

Right now that fancy pants boulder is on the patio serving as a weight with another rock I happened to have to hold some wood in place while I glue it together to make screen doors.

Carving stone weighs somewhere between 160-180 pounds per cubic foot. I need some. A 500-1800 pound chunk would suit me fine, so I’m biding my time. Could I actually carve a respectable statuary object in stone? Of course. I simply never have and can’t justify my confidence until I actually do the deed and prove it.

If you have a sound marble or alabaster boulder to donate, maybe I can fetch it off of your hands. Or get me an artist grade marble boulder of  around three by four  by three or four feet and take bets. If I do a professional quality sculpture, you discovered me and I keep the stone. If I fail I pay for the rock and will subsequently discover my own self.

In the meanwhile, with the exceptions named above, I have never carved a statue or figure or serious art object in stone.

My expectation is that the first attempt will be convincing and pleasant.


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