Carving Rock Sculpture... Carving rock sculpture is a difficult and time consuming. Here I will give a brief outline of the process I use. This is meant to give a collector an idea of the methods and tools I utilize when carving rock sculpture. I canít imagine it will be of any instructional use for a beginning carver looking to learn to carve rock sculptures. My process starts with collecting stones and ideas. Whenever I find an interesting stone for a reasonable price, I buy it. The stone may be interesting simply in its composition and appearance, or it might suggest a particular rock sculpture. In either case I collect such stones and have well over 100,000 pounds of marble. That makes a lot of rock sculptures!
I also collect ideas. These come from all over the place: books, photos, catalogs, other art, the entire natural world. I observe everything. I often make a quick sketch of these ideas or if itís easier Iíll just mark or tear the page out. Good ideas can be found everywhere. Contrary to the fashionable belief in many art circles that the idea is everything in art, I believe that good ideas are relatively commonplace and it is execution that is damn difficult. So having alienated much of the contemporary art world, I continue describing my approach to carving rock sculptures.
Eventually an idea for a rock sculpture gets linked up with a particular piece of stone. Now the hard work begins. For sculpture in-the-round I typically make a clay maquette (small model) of the idea, making sure it can be carved from the selected stone. This allows me to work out the composition and actually see the idea for rock sculptures in three dimensions. Sometimes the maquette is very crude, little more than a sketch in clay. Other times, particularly in complex pieces, the model is quite detailed allowing me to sort out the entire sculpture in clay before I begin in stone. Often Iíll make many models before I settle on one. I'll then use this as a guide for creating my rock sculptures.
For reliefs I rarely make a model. I go directly to the next step.
Polar Bear Maquette
Black Snake Maquette
Stone used for the Polar Bear Rock Sculpture
With the stone selected and the concept clearly defined I next figure out the methods, that is how am I going to carve the rock sculpture. Each piece requires a different approach. Typically the bulk of the stone is removed with a diamond saw and a hammer and chisel. With the majority of the rock removed I shift over to a pneumatic hammer and chisel. One can get very close to the finished surface with these tools. I then go back to a hand hammer and chisel, and files for the fine detail. Finally, the finish work is done with diamond abrasives, sandpaper and polishing compounds. During this process I often make changes to the original as I see improvements and as the stone dictates. The finished Black Snake and Polar Bear below are not simply enlarged copies of the Maquettes.
West Rutland Marble
11 x 24 x 10 in.
Champlain Black (Marble/Limestone)
19 x 30 x 25 in.
Additional examples of rock sculpture can be seen in the gallery of marble sculptures.