I have recently started a new project working as a stone carver in collaboration with Fathom Stone Art Gallery and Studio.
So here I am going to walk you through the carving process giving some insight into all that is involved in such a process.
Lets Get Started!
So the fist Phase is you start with a Stone, For this particular stone I had already before hand had a few ideas of what I would like to try out in terms of the position/posture of the bear I was going to carve. When I saw the shape of this stone, it was immediate where I could see ‘oh this would work for a standing bear’.
So during phase one I find I really look at the rock, turning it and flipping it and looking at the natural shape of the rock to see how/if this already start to inform the shape the bear. This particular rock had one point that was kind of ‘sticking out’ form the rest of the rock that was already shaped like an elbow, and so I found I followed this ‘line’ and that eventually became the shoulder and arm of the standing bear.
Here I start to actually carve away the stone using an electric grinder. Basically here I was aiming at establishing the ‘size’ of the head so that when I worked down from there that I would be able to proportionality fit in the rest of the bear. I had a few sketches that I had done, and also photo references that I was using as a basic guideline.
Here you can see the bear start to emerge. I found I more focused on establishing the basics of the head and then working down from there . I also found here that the natural cuts that the grinder makes creates a ‘fur like’ texture so at this stage i decided that I would see if I could keep some of those natural grinder cuts in the final piece to represent a tuft of hair around the neck of the bear.
So continuing with cutting away the stone with a grinder. This phase is also quite cool because you can not also start to see the natural colors and patterns of the rock start to emerge and get an idea of how these are going to look like on the final piece. Its kind of like unwrapping a present. This one has an awesome dark purple streak running along the back of the bear which creates quite a cool look.
Ok so now I am just about ready to take the bear into the Gallery and start the final cutting and then moving into sanding and polishing and doing the more finer details like the nose, eyes, ears etc. During this process I found each night I would often go and gather more references so that I could see exactly how for instance a bears ear looks like, or the way the arm muscles move in certain positions.
In the beginning I envisioned this bear standing on a rock, but as I walked the carving process I had to reassess things because as you can see this base was getting smaller and smaller and so around about this time I decided to take out the base completely and just have the bear standing on its own. This presented a new challenge which was to make sure the bear was Balanced! I had a few nervous moments where the thought entered my mind of ‘oh my god this bear is going to tip over’ but slowly but surely I adjusted and tweaked the bear and the position of the legs and arms so that everything was positioned and ‘sat’ in a balanced way. In the end the bear actually ended up being quite stable in this standing which is cool. I mean Sure-footedness is something that Id like for myself and my bear. To be Sure Footed, STABLE, Solid. So yes in the end I was quite satisfied with the overall Standing of the bear.
Ok so Now I am have brought the bear into the Studio Gallery to do the final cuts and bring the the form to a finished point to then begin the sanding and polishing process. You can see in the image below that I have now cut off the base and the bear is standing on its own with a few adjustments required.
So the sanding and polishing phase is actually quite an extensive process. I probably spent probably over 20 hours on the sanding and polishing of this bear. Its can be tricky to get into all the groves and crevasses. This one was particularly tricky because of the ‘tuft of hair’ around the neck of the bear which had allot of intricate parts to sand and polish.
If you take a close look at the picture on the right you can see I started with the polishing process and started with the top and am here half way down. The polishing process is quite cool and really brings out the natural patterns and colors of the stone.
The final phase is where you say “there I am done” and then take it out and set it up and realize “oh shoot I missed a spot” I mean one can really go on forever in this stage, finding all the little scratches and things like that that you could keep adjusting and going over forever. And so in this phase you bring your piece back into the studio and do some real fine tuning.
Real Final Phase
Finished and in the Gallery!
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