When it comes to learning how to carve alabaster with a dremel, there are a number of considerations that need to be made. Carving alabaster with a dremel may seem deceptively simple but those who are looking to get the most out of their projects will definitely want to read on and learn more.
These pointers are especially helpful to those who are learning how to carve alabaster with a dremel for the first time. Every step of the process is equally important. It is important for readers to fully grasp each step. Otherwise, a wide range of mistakes can occur.
Let’s start with the most crucial tips and pointers.
Learning how to carve alabaster with a dremel does not have to be a major challenge but that does not mean that we should be taking any unnecessary chances.
Alabaster Stone Is Highly Unique
There are some who may believe that they are ready to begin carving because they have handled projects that are similar in the past. However, alabaster is a highly unique stone and must be treated differently from other carving projects. The same techniques might be used but the process is not going to be the same.
The sculpting process tends to be more slow. This is a solid stone that is not going to respond in the same way as other stones would. Take everything that you know about carving stones with a dremel and toss it out the window. While some techniques from past projects may work just fine, there are not any perfect 1:1 comparisons to speak of.
Obtaining The Proper Equipment
Of course, the project cannot begin in earnest until the carver has taken the time to obtain the proper equipment. A heavy duty dremel such as one of these shown here in this review post, is typically the best choice. While some may wish to use mallets and chisels to aid them during this project, these tools do not provide the same level of precision as the dremel.
Mallets and chisels are also more taxing than the dremel from a physical standpoint. These tools do not offer the same level of discretion. Others may want to equip their working areas with a vacuum system, so that all extraneous dust can be removed from the premises.
A felt pen can be used to create a rough outline on the alabaster stone that is being carved. A glass of water should also be kept close by. This allows the carver to clean their area and make sure that no mistakes are being made. The process is much slower than the process for carving other stones. Be prepared for this reality.
Don’t Forget The Sand Bags
This is a step of the preparation process that can be easily forgotten, especially by those who are not used to carving alabaster with a dremel. These bags are utilized as a means of holding the alabaster stone in place during the process of learning how to learning how to carve alabaster with a dremel.
These bags are also useful when it comes to propping up stones that are not perfectly shaped. The sand bags should be chosen with durability in mind as well. If the fabric does not have the correct level of durability, the project becomes that much more difficult.
Sand bags that are used by photographers and film makers do not need to be used for projects of this nature. They do not offer the necessary durability. These bags are made for fancier usage and cannot handle the dirt and grime that is created during the carving process. Some may even decide that they wish to make their own sand bags, just to be on the safe side.
Protect Your Eyes and Ears
Carving alabaster with a dremel can be a lot of fun but eye protection and ear protection is of the utmost importance. Make sure to have a pair of goggles and a dust mask at the ready. While most readers are probably rolling their eyes at the obviousness of this pointer, there are many who have probably not obtained the correct protection for their ears.
When alabaster stone is being carved, the noise that is created can be damaging to the ears. The ringing noise will only increase in pitch as the project continues. This is definitely going to wear thin fast. Don’t neglect the importance of ear protection when contemplating a project of this nature.
Making The Stone Easier To Work With
The exterior of the alabaster stone may be rough. However, learning how to carve alabaster with a dremel is all about taking the time to learn as much as possible. When carving by hand, it is important to make the stone as easy to work with as possible. The rougher parts of the exterior need to be ground down.
If the stone is not smooth yet, this is a sign that more work needs to be done before the project can begin. Those who attempt to carve rougher stones are placing themselves in a position that is less than advantageous. Do not become overly worried about the removal of material. This step is all about making sure that the stone is smooth enough for carving. Many experts recommend using an electric grinder.
Choosing The Right Stone
Of course, the stone becomes even easier to work with when the right one has been chosen. Do you already have a finished product in mind? If so, the best decision that you can make is to choose a stone whose shape aligns with this vision. The closer the stone is to the final product, the less work the carver will need to do over the course of the project.
There is also less stone to be wasted in these instances. Others may decide that they wish to take a different approach to choosing a stone. Some will elect to choose a stone at random and analyze it closely. Instead of having a specific design in mind, they will let the stone speak to them.
In some cases, there just may be something inside of that stone that is waiting to make its way out. Carvers who are willing to analyze stones to find out more about their true makeup may decide that they would rather take this approach, as opposed to going into the project with a set outcome in mind.
Drawing The Image Onto The Stone
Once the alabaster is smooth, the carver can draw their chosen image onto the stone and prepare for further carving. A felt tip pen is in your best interests. Do not use pencils and Sharpies. A pencil is going to carve into the stone unintentionally and create issues that need to be addressed during the latter stages.
There are also going to be stones that keep us from using pencil for more logical reasons. For example, there are a wide range of stones that cannot be marked with pencil because the carver is not going to be able to see the marking once it is made.
Sharpies may seem like the best choice but these cannot be used either. In many cases, even the slightest Sharpie markings will melt into the stone and render it unable to be used. Sharpies also create far more mess. It cannot be erased once it has been used, either.
Crayons, felt tip pens, crayons and even pieces of other stones can be utilized for this step. Pieces of soapstone may not seem like the most obvious choice but these pieces offer carvers the chance to make markings that are not permanent. Wax crayons are often the best bet, though.
Don’t Let The Dremel Tool Get Wet
There are some who will claim that the dremel tool is not as useful as other tools that can be utilized for carving alabaster. On the other hand, those who have used a dremel in the past are well aware of the basics of carving. For starters, the dremel is only going to work in the appropriate manner if it remains dry throughout the duration of the process.
Did you know that stones are typically carved without the usage of heavy duty equipment? While a dremel can help in a number of ways, the tool needs to be treated properly in order for a carver to get the most out of it. The piece does not need to be left underwater for an extended period and any carver who recommends it is not to be trusted.
Use a smaller, more shallow tray if necessary. If the part of the alabaster that is being worked on needs to stay underwater, these trays offer the highest level of effectiveness. A drip system is another valuable tool that lets dremel users clear dirt away from the drilling areas.
Avoid Putting Too Much Pressure On The Stone
Learning how to carve alabaster with a dremel may seem easy enough but there are many reasons why these stones are used for a project of this nature. While there are other stones available that can be used for carving, alabaster provides the requisite softness. Harder stones are not always as easy to carve and this is especially true for beginners.
Since the alabaster is soft, the carver must avoid the temptation to place too much pressure on the stone. There is only a small amount of pressure that is needed. The stone needs to be warped and shaped. Too much pressure and fissures will form that cannot be worked around.
Flaking and cracking in alabaster stone is not always readily apparent. The dust also settles into the air while we are working and this issue is only magnified even further when too much pressure is placed on the stone.
Work With The Grain of the Stone
Once it is time to start carving the stone and creating the sculpture, it is important for carvers to work with the grain of the stone. Those who carve against the grain are increasing the likelihood of splintering and cracking. The stone is more likely to split along these lines.
Be sure to design the carving properly. The grain of the stone should run along the length of what is being carved. If the grain runs crosswise, this can cause a number of issues. Breaks and chips are far more common in these instances. Take the time to sketch out the design first. This keeps obvious mistakes from taking place.
Rasps Work Well
While those who are accustomed to carving harder stones will not typically recommend the usage of rasps, these tools are best used for the softer stones out there. Learning how to carve alabaster with a dremel is all about putting yourself in the best possible position to succeed.
Carving alabaster with a dremel does not always allow carvers to remove materials as desired. This is where the rasps come into play. They provide the assistance that hammers and chisels cannot. These tools are useful on harder stones but when it comes to alabaster, they only cause more chips and cracks.
A Helpful Primer on Filing
Once the desired shape of the carving project has been obtained, it is time to consider the finer points of filing. If there are any gouges that have been left behind by the rasps (or any chisels that were used), now is the time to remove them completely. The filing process is what allows us to avoid a long and drawn out polishing process.
Sandpaper can provide the necessary assistance but filing keeps us from having to spend too much time and money on this step. This is your chance to add in all of the fine details that will set your finished product apart. Sandpaper is crucial but it should never take precedence over filing.
Use Dry Sandpaper When Polishing
The softness of alabaster can make the polishing process much more difficult than we imagine. Start with a coarser sandpaper before moving onto something different. The rough form of the carving should already be established. This is simply the carver’s chance to properly define it.
Medium grit sandpaper and maximum grit sandpaper can be used once the coarser sandpaper has taken care of the tougher parts of the job. This is the best way to bring out the natural patterns of the alabaster and will really allow your colors to pop.
Enhancing Your Final Polish
Alabaster’s softness is what allows the carver to apply final polishes that are designed to bring out the stone’s natural luster. Make sure that the stone is fully dry before applying a final polish. This is how deeper scratches are found. These scratches cannot be removed once the carving project has been completed so be sure to take a closer look.
Bee’s wax and linseed oil can be used for this step. Use a soft, dry cloth to rub the wax or oil into the structure. Depending on the quality of the stone and how well the previous steps have been followed, it may take the carver two or three applications to achieve the desired result.
The process of learning how to carve alabaster with a dremel is easier than most realize. While there are various nuances to projects of this nature, those who take the time to follow the aforementioned tips and pointers will get the most out of their project. It is also in your best interests to find the best prices for all tools and equipment, such as the dremel tools reviewed here which are available on Amazon.com