Stone carving is an art by itself, and creating sculptures from marble even more so. If you love working with this material, then you must be specific and accurate in your decisions. You can easily assume it is easy to carve and sculpt until you take a closer look at a chunk of marble, or better yet, a completed sculpture made of marble.
The cuts and shapes of a finished marble sculpture are precise and carefully chipped to give a specific shape desired by a sculptor.
Marble sculpting differs in various parts of the world because of the techniques used in shaping the stones; however, sculptors share techniques that attribute to similarities in the end result of marble creations.
Traditionally, stone carving is associated with axes and chisels. Irrespective of a sculptor´s location, these are primary tools in a carving environment.
However, sculpting marble requires enhanced tools and special skill to bring out the desired beauty of the stone.
Here are the necessary tools you need for sculpting marble :
This is a primary tool in stone carving. It is 80 cm long with a double metal head that is sharpened on both ends to increase efficiency when digging. The initial process of carving require force and energy, which is only made easy by sharp tools.
This is the primary essence of the hardened head of the quarry pick, which breaks hard particles of the stones covering a chunk of marble. This precious stone is usually hidden between tough rocks where the only way is to break them before uncovering the marble.
This is a small version of the quarry pick. It measures 60 cm long with two sharp ends. The sculptor’s pick is meant for precision and fine-tuning of the edges cracked by the quarry pick. It is held by two hands on its wooden handle; the tool is related to an advanced level of expertise because only experienced sculptors use it in finalizing the marble sculpting stages.
Wedges are indispensable tools in marble sculpting. As mentioned, marble is a fine stone that is covered by tough rocks that can only be broken by pressure and extreme force.
Sculptors take advantage of holes on a rock to establish a line of weakness and fault lines. Wedges are installed in these spaces on a rock to capitalize on the bedding lines that lead to expansion hence splitting of the rock.
Wedges can either be wooden or metal; while wooden wedges are weaker, they are equally effective in mounting pressure. Sculptors soak wooden wedges in water and wait for it to saturate hence expanding the holes on a rock.
No stone carving can be successful without a point. This sculpting tool measures 20-30cm long depending on the type of stone and material of the rock. In the case of marble, it is longer than in any other stone carving tool. The long length of the point ensures it penetrates the stone as deep as possible to hit the precious marble within rocks.
On one end, the point has a pyramid shape while on the other side it is flat. A point is used with a hammer; it hits directly on a rock to break and shape a rock. It is a basic tool in carving, and personally, I like working with this tool because I can use it to take out my frustrations by breaking hard rocks with ease. A feeling of empowerment to be sure !
It is also called a claw chisel because of its shape on one end. The functional part of the chisel usually consists of teeth between 3 to 5 that hit on a rock to weaken its structure. Typically, tooth chisels consist of a long shaft and small diameter.
As one end is clawed, the other is flat where a mallet or hammer hits to break a rock. How a tooth chisel is held by a sculptor determine show deep it goes through the rock. For a marble, sculptors proceed with caution by holding the chisel at 40 degree angle instead of vertically.
This particular instrument also consists of a relatively long shaft and short diameter. Sculptors vary the type of chisels as tools in sculpting marble because they lead to different results. Unlike a tooth chisel, a flat chisel leaves no line traces on the final marble piece.
The lines drawn by other tools can easily be polished with this sculpting tool. Flat chisels are either round or square in shape, which enhances the cutting process. The width of flat chisels vary between 0.5 to 10 cm to give different shapes and sizes.
This tool is similar to a flat chisel only that it is rounded on the sharp end. Differentiating a flat chisel with a roundel can be difficult considering they are all sharp on this end. A fat chisel can also be easily turned to a roundel because of the pressure imposed by a hammer or wooden mallet often used in sculpting.
This tool is commonly used for softer stones, but even for use on marble as well, because its bending structure compromises on its sharp effectiveness. Just like the flat chisel, most sculptors prefer holding it at 35-60 degrees angle to gently break into the rock.
The roundel is really good for making hollows in the marble. This tool will most likely be one of your favorites. It certainly is one of mine, and I even gave mine a name : “Smeagol”
I hope this post provided you with the info you were looking for. Have a wonderful day with your craft making !