The Technique of Stone Carving
Making sculpture can be done in quite a few ways and out of many different materials, but there are four
basic techniques that are used for all sculptures. Some techniques were developed to be use with specific
materials, and some techniques have been passed down through the centuries with very little change. It is
common for sculptors to specialize in using on particular technique over other techniques but if you want to be a
professional sculptor, it's a good idea to at least be somewhat familiar with all four types.
The first type will be stone sculpture.
Stone carving is the oldest form of sculpting. When the earliest humans first started creating sculptures
to use for religious devotion, as communication, or as tributes to those who had died they used stone carving to do
it. Stone sculptures have been found that date to prehistoric times, like the Venus of Berehkat Ram that is
believed to be about 800,000 years old.
Ancient sculptors used flint tools to chip away at whatever stones happened to be in the area. Later on,
sculptors would pick out particular types of stone based on the properties of that stone and use those for
sculpting. Flint tools and abrasive techniques were used to create sculptures until the development of steel. Steel
tools like hammers, chisels, picks, and other sturdy items made it possible for sculptors to do new and innovative
sculptures that could be made much more quickly and efficiently. Today these tools have not changed very much from
the original steel tools that were developed.
There are three basic kinds of sculpture tools that are used for stone
carving. They are,
1) Percussion tools
Percussion tools are any type of tool that is used to hit the stone and knock off chunks of the stone. When
a sculptor first begins working with a stone and wants to knock off large sections of it to get the basic shape
of the stone exactly right the sculptor might use a hammer, a mallet, an adze or an axe. All of those are
considered to be percussion tools
Chisels of different sizes and strengths are essential for a sculptor. There are hand held chisels that are
usually used for fine detailing work or for working with precious metal inlays and there are pneumatic or
battery powered chisels for doing basic shaping and trimming.
Abrasion was the primary method of sculpting for thousands of years and still is an effective way to work
with large pieces of stone. Old fashioned abrasives are tools like saws, carborundum blocks, and water that is
used to erode the stone. More modern abrasives in stone sculpture include jet torches and