Stone carving

Stone carving is an activity where pieces of rough natural stone are shaped by the controlled removal of stone. Owing to the permanence of the material, stone work has survived which was created during our prehistory.

Work carried out by paleolithic societies to create flint tools is more often referred to as knapping. Stone carving that is done to produce lettering is more often referred to as lettering. The process of removing stone from the earth is called mining or quarrying.

Stone carving is one of the processes which may be used by an artist when creating a sculpture. The term also refers to the activity of masons in dressing stone blocks for use in architecture, building or civil engineering. It is also a phrase used by archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists to describe the activity involved in making some types of petroglyphs.

Scotlandkilmartinstones
The Kilmartin Stones in Scotland - a collection of ancient stone carved graveslabs
Al Khazneh Petra edit 2 (cropped)
Khazneh structure carved into a cliff in Petra southern Jordan

History

The earliest known works of representational art are stone carvings. Often marks carved into rock or petroglyphs will survive where painted work will not. Prehistoric Venus figurines such as the Venus of Berekhat Ram may be as old as 800,000 years, and are carved in stones such as tuff and limestone.

These earliest examples of the stone carving are the result of hitting or scratching a softer stone with a harder one, although sometimes more resilient materials such as antlers are known to have been used for relatively soft stone. Another early technique was to use an abrasive that was rubbed on the stone to remove the unwanted area. Prior to the discovery of steel by any culture, all stone carving was carried out by using an abrasion technique, following rough hewing of the stone block using hammers. The reason for this is that bronze, the hardest available metal until steel, is not hard enough to work any but the softest stone. The Ancient Greeks used the ductility of bronze to trap small granules of carborundum, that are naturally occurring on the island of Milos, thus making a very efficient file for abrading the stone.

The development of iron made possible stone carving tools, such as chisels, drills and saws made from steel, that were capable of being hardened and tempered to a state hard enough to cut stone without deforming, while not being so brittle as to shatter. Carving tools have changed little since then.

Modern, industrial, large quantity techniques still rely heavily on abrasion to cut and remove stone, although at a significantly faster rate with processes such as water erosion and diamond saw cutting.

One modern stone carving technique uses a new process: The technique of applying sudden high temperature to the surface. The expansion of the top surface due to the sudden increase in temperature causes it to break away. On a small scale, Oxy-acetylene torches are used. On an industrial scale, lasers are used. On a massive scale, carvings such as the Crazy Horse Memorial carved from the Harney Peak granite of Mount Rushmore and the Confederate Memorial Park in Albany, Georgia are produced using jet heat torches.

Stone sculpture

Leshan Buddha Statue View
The Tang Dynasty Leshan Giant Buddha, near Leshan in Sichuan province, China. Construction began in 713, and was completed in 803. It is the largest stone-carved Buddha in the world.
Relief, late 19th century Limestone
Bas-Relief, late 19th century CE. Limestone. Brooklyn Museum

Carving stone into sculpture is an activity older than civilization itself. Prehistoric sculptures were usually human forms, such as the Venus of Willendorf and the faceless statues of the Cycladic cultures. Later cultures devised animal, human-animal and abstract forms in stone. The earliest cultures used abrasive techniques, and modern technology employs pneumatic hammers and other devices. But for most of human history, sculptors used hammer and chisel as the basic tools for carving stone.

The process begins with the selection of a stone for carving. Some artists use the stone itself as inspiration; the Renaissance artist Michelangelo claimed that his job was to free the human form trapped inside the block. Other artists begin with a form already in mind and find a stone to complement their vision. The sculptor may begin by forming a model in clay or wax, sketching the form of the statue on paper or drawing a general outline of the statue on the stone itself.

When ready to carve, the artist usually begins by knocking off large portions of unwanted stone. This is the "roughing out" stage of the sculpting process. For this task they may select a point chisel, which is a long, hefty piece of steel with a point at one end and a broad striking surface at the other. A pitching tool may also be used at this early stage; which is a wedge-shaped chisel with a broad, flat edge. The pitching tool is useful for splitting the stone and removing large, unwanted chunks. Those two chisels are used in combination with a masons driving hammer.

Once the general shape of the statue has been determined, the sculptor uses other tools to refine the figure. A toothed chisel or claw chisel has multiple gouging surfaces which create parallel lines in the stone. These tools are generally used to add texture to the figure. An artist might mark out specific lines by using calipers to measure an area of stone to be addressed, and marking the removal area with pencil, charcoal or chalk. The stone carver generally uses a shallower stroke at this point in the process, usually in combination with a wooden mallet.

Eventually the sculptor has changed the stone from a rough block into the general shape of the finished statue. Tools called rasps and rifflers are then used to enhance the shape into its final form. A rasp is a flat, steel tool with a coarse surface. The sculptor uses broad, sweeping strokes to remove excess stone as small chips or dust. A riffler is a smaller variation of the rasp, which can be used to create details such as folds of clothing or locks of hair.

The final stage of the carving process is polishing. Sandpaper can be used as a first step in the polishing process, or sand cloth. Emery, a stone that is harder and rougher than the sculpture media, is also used in the finishing process. This abrading, or wearing away, brings out the color of the stone, reveals patterns in the surface and adds a sheen. Tin and iron oxides are often used to give the stone a highly reflective exterior.

Sculptures can be carved via either the direct or the indirect carving method. Indirect carving is a way of carving by using an accurate clay, wax or plaster model, which is then copied with the use of a compass or proportional dividers[1] or a pointing machine. The direct carving method is a way of carving in a more intuitive way, without first making an elaborate model. Sometimes a sketch on paper or a rough clay draft is made.

Stone carving considerations

Arabic style ashlar
'Arabic' style carving on ashlar building blocks, Beith, Scotland

Stone has been used for carving since ancient times for many reasons. Most types of stone are easier to find than metal ores, which have to be mined and smelted. Stone can be dug from the surface and carved with hand tools. Stone is more durable than wood, and carvings in stone last much longer than wooden artifacts. Stone comes in many varieties and artists have abundant choices in color, quality and relative hardness.

Soft stone such as chalk, soapstone, pumice and Tufa can be easily carved with found items such as harder stone or in the case of chalk even the fingernail. Limestones and marbles can be worked using abrasives and simple iron tools. Granite, basalt and some metamorphic stone is difficult to carve even with iron or steel tools; usually tungsten carbide tipped tools are used, although abrasives still work well. Modern techniques often use abrasives attached to machine tools to cut the stone.

Precious and semi-precious gemstones are also carved into delicate shapes for jewellery or larger items, and polished; this is sometimes referred to as lapidary, although strictly speaking lapidary refers to cutting and polishing alone.

When worked, some stones release dust that can damage lungs (silica crystals are usually to blame), so a respirator is sometimes needed.

Stone shaping and tools

Basic stone carving tools fall into five categories:

  • Percussion tools for hitting - such as mallets, axes, adzes, bouchards and toothed hammers.
  • Tools for rough shaping of stone, to form a block the size needed for the carving. These include feathers and wedges and pitching tools.
  • Chisels for cutting - such as lettering chisels, points, pitching tools, and claw chisels. Chisels in turn may be hand held and hammered or pneumatic powered.
  • Diamond tools which include burrs, cup wheels, and blades mounted on a host of power tools.These are used sometimes through the entire carving process from rough work to final finish.
  • Abrasives for material removal - such as carborundum blocks, drills, saws, grinding and cutting wheels, water-abrasive machinery and dressing tools such as French and English drags.

More advanced processes, such as laser cutting and jet torches, use sudden high temperature with a combination of cooling water to spall flakes of stone. Other modern processes may involve diamond-wire machines or other large scale production equipment to remove large sections of undesired stone.

The use of chisels for stone carving is possible in several ways. Two are:

  • The masons stroke, in which a flat chisel is used at approximately 90 degrees to the surface in an organized sweep. It shatters the stone beneath it and each successive pass lowers the surface.
  • The lettering stroke, in which the chisel is used along the surface at approximately 30 degrees to cut beneath the existing surface.

There are many types and styles of stone carving tools, each carver will decide for themselves which tools to use. Traditionalists might use hand tools only.

  • Lettering chisels for incising small strokes create the details of letters in larger applications.
  • Fishtail carving chisels are used to create pockets, valleys and for intricate carving, whilst providing good visibility around the stone.
  • Masonry chisels are used for the general shaping of stones.
  • Stone point tools are used to rough out the surface of the stone.
  • Stone claw tools are used to remove the peaks and troughs left from the previously used tools.
  • Stone pitching tools are used to remove large quantities of stone.
  • Stone nickers are used to split stones by tracing a line along the stone with progressive strikes until the stone breaks along the line.

Powered pneumatic hammers make the hard work easier. Progress on shaping stone is faster with pneumatic carving tools. Air hammers (such as Cuturi) place many thousands of impacts per minute upon the end of the tool, which would usually be manufactured or modified to suit the purpose. This type of tool creates the ability to 'shave' the stone, providing a smooth and consistent stroke, allowing for larger surfaces to be worked.

Among modern tool types, there are two main stone carving chisels:

  • Heat treated high carbon steel tools - Generally forged
  • Tungsten carbide tipped tools - Generally forged, slotted, and carbide inserts brazed in to provide a harder and longer-wearing cutting edge.

Gallery

Direct carving method: 'The Unknown Righteous Among the Nations', red granite sculpture by Shelomo Selinger (b. 1928), 1987, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel

Marmor-spalten

Using plug and feathers to split a block of marble from the quarry

Carrara Marble quarry

Carrara marble quarry

Une chasse

Pitching tool used in preliminary rough shaping blocks of stone

Carved Floral Design

Carved flower on stone, ancient work, Archaeological museum of Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Utgrävningar i Teotihuacan (1932) - SMVK - 0307.f.0075

Carved sculpture, ancient work, from Chichen Itza, Mexico

Raffi kojian-goshavank-IMG 0454

A famous khachkar at Goshavank Armenia

See also

References

  1. ^ Hoffman, Malvina (1939). Sculpture Inside and Out. New York: Bonanza Books. p. 235.

External links

Architecture of Jiangxi

Architecture of Jiangxi refers to the traditional masonry houses, residential compounds, monuments, and academies built in Jiangxi of East China.

Arts of Odisha

The Indian state of Odisha has a rich cultural and artistic heritage. Due to the reign of many different rulers in the past, arts and crafts in Odisha underwent many changes giving an artistic diversity today in the forms of traditional handicrafts, painting and carving, dance and music.

Baleshwar Temple

Baleshwar Temple is ancient temple dedicated to Shiva, situated within city of Champawat in Uttarakhand.

Built by the rulers of the Chand dynasty, Baleshwar Temple is a marvelous symbol of stone carving. There are not any historical manuscripts that date the Baleshwar temple; however, it is believed to have been built between the 10th and 12th century AD.

Budhanilkantha Temple

Budhanilkantha Temple, located in Budhanilkantha, Nepal, (Nepali: बुढानिलकण्ठ मन्दिर; translation: Old Blue Throat) is a Hindu open air temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Budhanilkantha Temple is situated below the Shivapuri Hill at the northern end of the Kathmandu valley. and can be identified by a large reclining statue of Lord Vishnu. The temple's main statue of Budhanilkantha is considered the largest stone carving in Nepal.

Cambodian art

The history of Cambodian art stretches back centuries to ancient times, but the most famous period is undoubtedly the Khmer art of the Khmer Empire (802–1431), especially in the area around Angkor and the mainly 12th-century temple-complex of Angkor Wat, initially Hindu and subsequently Buddhist. After the collapse of the empire these and other sites were abandoned and overgrown, allowing much of the era's stone carving and architecture to survive to the present day. Traditional Cambodian arts and crafts include textiles, non-textile weaving, silversmithing, stone carving, lacquerware, ceramics, wat murals, and kite-making.

Beginning in the mid-20th century, a tradition of modern art began in Cambodia, though in the later 20th century both traditional and modern arts declined for several reasons, including the killing of artists by the Khmer Rouge. The country has experienced a recent artistic revival due to increased support from governments, NGOs, and foreign tourists.

In pre-colonial Cambodia, art and crafts were generally produced either by rural non-specialists for practical use or by skilled artists producing works for the Royal Palace. In modern Cambodia, many artistic traditions entered a period of decline or even ceased to be practiced, but the country has experienced a recent artistic revival as the tourist market has increased and governments and NGOs have contributed to the preservation of Cambodian culture.

Carving

Carving is the act of using tools to shape something from a material by scraping away portions of that material. The technique can be applied to any material that is solid enough to hold a form even when pieces have been removed from it, and yet soft enough for portions to be scraped away with available tools. Carving, as a means for making sculpture, is distinct from methods using soft and malleable materials like clay, fruit, and melted glass, which may be shaped into the desired forms while soft and then harden into that form. Carving tends to require much more work than methods using malleable materials.Kinds of carving include:

Bone carving

Chip carving

Fruit carving

Gourd carving or gourd art

Ice carving or ice sculpture

Ivory carving

Stone carving

Petroglyph

Vegetable carving

Thaeng yuak (Banana stalk carving)

Wood carving

Hobo nickel

Tree carving

Arborglyph

Dausa

Dausa is a city and administrative headquarters of Dausa district in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is 55 km from Jaipur, 240 km from Delhi and located on Jaipur-Agra National Highway (NH-21). It is also known as "Dev Nagari."

Dea Matrona

In Celtic mythology, Dea Matrona ("divine mother goddess") was the goddess who gives her name to the river Marne (ancient Matrŏna) in Gaul.

The Gaulish theonym Mātr-on-ā signifies "great mother", and the goddess of the Marne has been interpreted to be a mother goddess.Many Gaulish religious images—including inexpensive terracotta statues mass-produced for use in household shrines—depict mother goddesses nursing babies or holding fruits, other foods, or small dogs in their laps. In many areas, such Matronae were depicted in groups of three (or sometimes two) (see Matres and Matronae for the triads of mother-goddesses well attested throughout northern Europe).

The name of Welsh mythological figure Modron, mother of Mabon is derived from the same etymon. By analogy, Dea Matrona may conceivably have been considered the mother of the Gaulish Maponos.

Duddingston Kirk

Duddingston Kirk is a Parish Church in the Church of Scotland, located adjacent to Holyrood Park in Duddingston Village, on the east side of the City of Edinburgh. Regular services are held at the kirk, conducted by the minister, Rev Dr James A. P. Jack (from 2001).

The church was built in or around 1124 by Dodin, a Norman knight, on land granted to Kelso Abbey by King David I of Scotland. As originally built, the kirk consisted of the chancel, nave and square tower. The traditional pattern of an east–west axis was adopted. The original entrance on the south wall includes a particularly fine example of Scoto-Norman stone carving, with a round-topped doorway. Following the enlargement of the parish boundaries, the Prestonfield Aisle was added in 1631. This consists of a gallery, downstairs area and burial vaults were on the north side. In 1968 the kirk’s interior was reconditioned, with the former pipe organ removed.

The entrance to the kirkyard from Duddingston village is notable for its gatehouse, built as a lookout point to deter "bodysnatchers" in the early 19th century. The Edinburgh bodysnatchers, known as "resurrectionists," stole recently buried corpses to sell to anatomists, and, as in the notorious case of Burke and Hare, sometimes also resorted to murder.

Given its proximity to central Edinburgh, Duddingston has long been a favourite location for many of the city’s artists and professionals. The novelist Walter Scott was ordained an elder at Duddingston in 1806.The kirk has also been used as a venue during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Humay District

Humay District is one of eight districts of the province Pisco in Peru.The Lily Mine, about 40 km (25 mi) east of Pisco, Peru, is a well-known producer of mineral specimens for collectors, and rough material for decorative stone-carving.

Letter cutting

Letter cutting is a form of inscriptional architectural lettering closely related to monumental masonry and stone carving, often practiced by artists, sculptors, and typeface designers. Rather than traditional stone carving, where images and symbols are the dominant features, in letter cutting it is the beauty of the stone carver's calligraphy that is the focus. Notable practitioners include:

Eric Gill,

Ralph Beyer

David Kindersley

Richard Kindersley

John Shaw

Mosan art

Mosan art is a regional style of art from the valley of the Meuse in present-day Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Although in a broader sense the term applies to art from this region from all periods, it generally refers to Romanesque art, with Mosan Romanesque architecture, stone carving, metalwork, enamelling and manuscript illumination reaching a high level of development during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.

Shoushan stone carvings

Shoushan (Chinese: 寿山石; Pinyin: shòu shān shí) stone carving is an art originating in Fujian Province(福建省 Fújiàn shěng)in Eastern China. AKA Soapstone.

The stones used in carving are also known as agalmatolite and are mined in the Shoushan village in northern Fujian. Use of the stone for carving can be traced back as far as the Southern Dynasties and have long been used to produce handicrafts and later on in the Ming Dynasty, seals.

AKA: Soapstone, Talc/ i.e. Powdered soapstone.

St John's Church, Silverdale

St John's Church is in Emesgate Lane, Silverdale, Lancashire, England. It is an active Anglican parish church in the deanery of Tunstall, the archdeaconry of Lancaster, and the diocese of Blackburn. The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building. It is notable for the high quality of the stone carving in the interior.

Statue of William Shakespeare, Leicester Square

A statue of William Shakespeare, sculpted by Giovanni Fontana after an original by Peter Scheemakers, has formed the centrepiece of Leicester Square Gardens in London since 1874. The marble figure, copied from Scheemakers' 18th-century monument to Shakespeare in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, stands on a pedestal flanked by dolphins at the centre of a fountain. It is the result of improvements to the gardens made by the financier Albert Grant, who bought the Square in 1874 and had it refurbished to a design by James Knowles.The scroll held by Shakespeare is inscribed with a quotation from Twelfth Night (Act IV, Scene II), THERE IS NO DARKNESS BUT IGNORANCE, where the original in Poets' Corner has a misquoted passage from The Tempest. The Leicester Square statue also differs from its model in omitting portrait reliefs of Henry V, Richard III and Elizabeth I from the plinth on which Shakespeare rests. The inscription on the pedestal in Leicester Square reads:

THIS ENCLOSURE/ WAS PURCHASED, LAID OUT/ AND DECORATED AS A GARDEN/ BY ALBERT GRANT ESQ[UI]RE M.P./ AND/ CONVEYED BY HIM ON THE 2ND JULY 1874/ TO THE/ METROPOLITAN BOARD OF WORKS/ TO BE PRESERVED FOR EVER/ FOR THE FREE USE AND ENJOYMENT/ OF THE PUBLIC

The statue is listed at Grade II. In 2012 it underwent restoration, and the cleaning was completed, by Tom Brown of London Stone Carving Limited, and new water features added in 2014.

Stone Carving in Odisha

Stone carving in Odisha is the ancient practice of sculpting stone into art and utilitarian objects. It is an ancient practice in the Indian state of Odisha. Stone carving is practiced by artisans mainly in Puri, Bhubaneswar and Lalitgiri in the Cuttack district, though some carvings can be found in Khiching in the Mayurbhanj District. Stone carving is one of the major handcrafts of Odisha. The art form primarily consists of custom carved works, with the Sun Temple of Konark and its intricate sculpture and delicate carvings on the red vivid sandstone exemplifying the practice. Other noteworthy monuments include the Stupas of Udayagiri and Ratnagiri and the temples at Jagannath, Lingaraj, Mukteshwar and as well as other temples in the region.

Stone sculpture

A stone sculpture is an object made of stone which has been carved or assembled to form a visually interesting three-dimensional shape.

Stone carving is an activity where pieces of rough natural stone are shaped by the controlled removal of stone. Owing to the permanence of the material, evidence can be found that even the earliest societies indulged in some form of stonework, though not all areas of the world have such abundance of good stone for carving as Egypt, Greece, India and most of Europe. Petroglyphs (also called rock engravings) are perhaps the earliest form: images created by removing part of a rock surface which remains in situ, by incising, pecking, carving, and abrading. Monumental sculpture covers large works, and architectural sculpture, which is attached to buildings. Hardstone carving is the carving for artistic purposes of semi-precious stones such as jade, agate, onyx, rock crystal, sard or carnelian, and a general term for an object made in this way. Alabaster or mineral gypsum is a soft mineral that is easy to carve for smaller works and still relatively durable. Engraved gems are small carved gems, including cameos, originally used as seal rings.

Tiki

In Māori mythology, Tiki is the first man created by either Tūmatauenga or Tāne. He found the first woman, Marikoriko, in a pond; she seduced him and he became the father of Hine-kau-ataata. By extension, a tiki is a large or small wooden or stone carving in humanoid form, although this is a somewhat archaic usage in the Māori language. Carvings similar to tikis and coming to represent deified ancestors are found in most Polynesian cultures. They often serve to mark the boundaries of sacred or significant sites.

Yameshwar Temple

Yameshwar or Jameshwar Temple is a very old temple dedicated to Shiva being worshiped by Yama. It is situated in Bhubaneswar near Bharati Matha, in Jameshwar Patna.

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