Tips for Sculpting with Stone

While I’m thinking about it.

1.  Pay attention to any seams when whacking away with the mallet.  Put your chisel in the wrong place and that whole thing is going to fall apart and bitter salty tears will be shed.  Use a rasp instead if things are starting to look a bit suss.  Or, you know, don’t buy that hunk of rock.  Back in the past.  When you could have done something about that.  It’s inevitable that the seam will break open at some point.  Fine if you’re practicing, a total bitch if you’re pouring your soul into your life’s work.

2.  Don’t refine the bit you’re holding until the last moment.  Holding a sculpture of a person by it’s head?  That sucker’s neck is going to snap off faster than Barbie’s on Christmas morning.  Do everything else first.  You’re still going to be holding it by it’s head while you’re giving it some sweet as elbows.

3.  Try and save the easily snap-off-able bits like fingers and toes until late in the game.  You WILL snap them off.

4.  Try and keep the refinement evenly paced throughout the whole sculpture, or you’ll do your head in trying to make it all work and then discover later on you’ve accidentally cut it’s foot off.

5.  Keep small details like hands and feet larger than you actually want them to be once the sculpture is done.  You’re going to use easily five different grades of sandpaper on that thing to try and get a decent shine and you don’t want to go around sanding those pinkies away.

6.  Try to smooth as many scratch marks as possible before you start paper sanding with the finer blades (is that even what they’re called?) on your rasp.  It will save you time and the rasp will give you straighter edges rather than getting through with the paper sanding only to discover that your sculpture now has a little bow in it from where you used to have a scratch.

7.  Wet and dry sand paper.  The sandpaper of the gods.  This is not the kind of white powder you want going up your nose.

8.  Make sure before moving onto a finer grain of sandpaper that your sculpture is PERFECTLY smooth from the rougher one.  You’ll end up wasting your time and breaking your heart trying to buff out scratches that could have easily been sorted two rougher grains of sandpaper ago.

9.  Edges?  Emery boards.  The books say use a dowel and blah blah blah, but the books were clearly written by dudes.  Seriously.  Emery boards.


Here’s where I’m up to today.  The Foot Dilemma has finally been solved.  Then I realised I need to do the hands next and ran away.  As would the best of us, I’m sure.  (Note the lack of toes at this point)



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