The process and the journey
Great art is offten produced under difficult circumstances. It can be powerfully human and convey emotions that resonate within each of us. For me, it has become a constant process of learning about the way a stone can be carved. Like the stone carving artists in Africa, I try to establish a true rapport with the emerging forms and, like them, I work directly onto the stone without producing paper sketches before hand. My early works were with soapstone which is a very soft stone because of its high talc content. It is very easy to carve but can also be scratched with a fingernail. It has been used in carvings for thousands of years by many civilizations from the Chinese to Native American. Soapstone is a great place to start to carve stone and can be easily shaped using rifflers and rasps. Smoothing is carried out using progressively finer sandpaper. When the desired smoothness is achieved the carving is heated, wax applied and finally buffed to bring out the colour.
Zimbabwean opal stone is harder than soapstone so consequently more difficult to carve. It also comes in pedominantly green and black but has reddish brown and creamy white varieties. The process of carving is very similar to that of soapstone, however because the stone is more resiliant hammers and chisels can be used to shape the stone. This stone can be used for garden sculptures.
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