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The main tools used for sculpting with stone

The main tools used for sculpting with stone

The tools used in the world of sculpture have continued to evolve ever since they first appeared in prehistoric times. They have been perfected over time in order to provide more precision to allow artists to create finer detail and a better end result in their works. If you have just begun dabbling in this exciting form of artistic expression and need to learn about the best tools for sculpting in stone, keep reading!

What tools are used by sculptors?

As you would imagine, sculptors will choose particular tools depending on the specific tasks involved in each project and the level of detail that is required. Knowledge is always power, no matter what area we work in, and it is precisely for this reason that it is so important for an artist to be fully aware of all the different possibilities available to them to fulfil new objectives, set new goals for themselves and continue to achieve more and more professional results. We will now show you the essential tools for sculpting in stone.

Chisels

Chisels are currently the most commonly used tool for carving stone. They have been used since prehistoric times, although they have obviously improved significantly over time. Chisels are a manual tool that are used to chip away at stone to remove small pieces at a time, so that the artist can produce the form that they want one bit at a time. There are also other supporting tools used alongside the chisel, such as hammers or mallets, which we will talk about next. The chisel can be used for a variety of different tasks, and as such there are carving chisels, lettering chisels and rounded chisels.

Chisels are made up of four parts: the head, the handle, the wedge and the cutting edge. The wide variety of models available can create confusion regarding which type to choose for each case. High-quality chisels have a long enough handle to allow you to hold it correctly in your hand, but not so long that it prevents you from moving freely, making it more difficult to handle.

Mallets and hammers

As we mentioned previously, mallets and hammers are essential tools for working with stone, as they provide the necessary force to strike it with a strong impact. As many of you will already know, hammers are made up of a metal head and a handle for directing the impact (generally made of wood). Sculptors will have a good understanding of all the different hammers available to them: round hand hammers, hand bush hammers, lump hammers, splitting hammers, toothed stone axes, trimming hammers, carving picks or crandall hammers. But we will of course always provide all the necessary information to those who are still unsure about all the tools that are available to them.

Pointed chisels

You can use pointed chisels to work with stone in a much more precise manner, and thus achieve a better finish. Carbide pointed chisels, for example, provide maximum resistance during the carving process, a low level of deformation and increased durability. This helps to produce work that is high-impact but also with fine detail and/or a great finish. We have a variety of different pointed chisels at Rock & Tools, so that you can always find the one that best suits the work you would like to carry out.

Diamond cutting and saw blades

Diamond cutting and saw blades are specially designed for cutting various types of stone. They are specifically made using diamond particles, a material that is well-known for its durability and abrasive qualities. These properties allow them to cut very quickly and precisely. The edge of these blades may be segmented (for stone, brick or granite), continuous (for tile or marble) or turbo (for tile, marble or stone, among other materials).

What should you take into account before working with stone?

In addition to the materials that we've just mentioned, there is a whole world of tools that you may find useful and necessary for producing your own pieces of art. You can discover all of them on our website. That being said, before sculpting whatever you have in mind from stone, remember that one of the most important steps you should take first of all is to measure and mark the stone that you are going to work with properly, to avoid any mistakes later. For this task, calipers, pencils and spirit levels are some of the tools that you should also have available. And protection is also obviously very important, so ear plugs, gloves and safety glasses should also be an essential part of any safety set, for both professionals and amateurs.

We hope that you have found this article useful and that if you decide to create your own sculptures, you will have all the tools you need to form your own pieces of art. Let us know if you have any queries. We are always happy to help, provide assistance and share our knowledge with you.

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What are the most commonly used sculpture techniques?

What are the most commonly used sculpture techniques?

Both professional artists and amateur enthusiasts who dedicate a part of their free time to one of their great passions, sculpture, do so because of the satisfaction they get from expressing themselves through the creation of shapes and forms, or because they feel compelled to. In previous posts we have told you about the most common materials used for making sculptures, as well as the different kinds of sculptures that exist. Today we would like to go into more detail about the most well-known and commonly used sculpture techniques.

Sculpture is a three-dimensional art form that utilises the space surrounding it, by incorporating itself or interacting with it. When beginning a new sculpture, artists have to make a variety of different decisions regarding its height, width and length, and then, based on these decisions and the result they are hoping to achieve, decide which technique or techniques they are going to use.

Techniques for producing a sculpture

Sculpting

This is one of the sculpture techniques that is most familiar to everyone, including those who are fairly unfamiliar with this art form. This technique involves working from a solid block, chipping away pieces until the sculptor achieves the shape that they had in mind. Throughout history the most commonly used materials were marble in Italy, alabaster stone in Germany, England and Spain, and limestone throughout Europe.

For this technique, artists use roughing tools to create deep and uneven grooves, or flat chisels as finishing tools, on surfaces such as limestone, sandstone or marble.

Carving

Carving is a technique that is used primarily for working with marble and wood. It is a process that involves removing material by wearing it away and smoothing it, working from the outside in.

When carving with wood, the artist will need to consider the type of wood they are using, as this is very important. Cedar or pine wood are softer and easier to carve than oak or walnut, for example. However, these harder woods are more durable and allow the artist to create more intricate detail. Precisely for this reason, in-depth knowledge regarding materials and techniques is always highly important for a sculptor.

As for carving in ivory, it is important to bear in mind that it is a highly expensive material and difficult to get hold of, as it is obtained from the tusks of an elephant or the horns of a rhinoceros, for example. It is for this reason that it has been traditionally used for carving religious objects.

Modelling

Modelling, as the name suggests, is a technique that involves giving shape to a soft and pliable material, using a mould. One of the materials that is most commonly used for this kind of technique is clay, although there are others. Clay is a very cheap material, easy to get hold of and is also very easy to mould. One of the benefits of this technique is that you can make several copies of a sculpture.

Surely most of you, if not all of you, will be familiar with the famous waxwork museums. Well, the celebrities portrayed in these museums are produced with this same technique, using wax. If they are done well, they can even look real from a certain distance. Incredible, right?

Casting

Similar to modelling, this technique also requires the use of a mould. The main difference with casting is that the resulting sculptures are generally made from combinations of metals. Bronze, for example, is an alloy of tin and copper, and is commonly used in sculptures as it is strong and durable. In fact, in the Middle Ages it was commonly used for producing weapons, tools and other sculptures.

Polishing

Polishing is a technique used by artists who want to improve the final finish of a sculpture that they've created, by improving its visual appearance and texture. It involves performing a mechanical operation on the surface of the material. The polishing technique for wood is also known as sanding and may be done using a sander, or by hand. For other materials, such as copper, silver or gold, polishing is usually done purely for decorative reasons, in order to make them more shiny or clean, or to improve their texture as previously mentioned.

Other sculpture techniques

Of course, there are other sculpture techniques in use, such as chiseling, embossing, engraving, stamping and die-casting, but we wanted to focus on the most well-known and commonly used techniques. Are you aware of any techniques that we haven't mentioned? If so, let us know! We hope that you've learned a lot today and if you decide to create your own sculptures and need help, you have come to the right place. Just let us know what you need and we would be delighted to help you.  

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The art of sculpture: definition and origins

The art of sculpture: definition and origins

What were the origins of the first sculptures? Where did they come from?

What is the real story behind this artistic discipline? A very curious fact about this art is that up until the Renaissance, this activity was not referred to as sculpture. Did you know that? If you want to know more about the origins and the exciting history of the art of sculpture, don’t go away! We will tell you everything you need to know.

The Definition of Sculpture

According to the Royal Spanish Academy, sculpture is the “art of modelling, carving or sculpting three-dimensional figures in certain materials” or a “work made by a sculptor”. In other words, sculpture, considered one of the seven fine arts, is the discipline that consists of creating three-dimensional figures by sculpting or carving different types of materials (stone, ceramics, bronze, etc.).

Origins of the Art of Sculpture

Sculpture in Prehistory

Today, no one really knows for sure when the world's first sculptures were made. However, historians suggest that it all began in the so-called Stone Age. In fact, The Venus of Berekhat (230,000 BC) and The Venus of Tan-Tan (200,000 BC), two objects with pre-sculptural forms, are the oldest known stone effigies.

 

The first documented sculptures date from approximately 35,000 BC and are carvings in the form of animals, as well as birds, discovered in two German caves: the Vogelherd and the Hohlensten-Stadel.

Sculpture in the Neolithic Age

The Egyptian pyramids are, undoubtedly, the most striking form of art from the Neolithic period. Their funeral chambers included all kinds of statues and moveable statuettes, indicating new sculptures were being created. It was also during this period when, due to the emergence of cities and public buildings, the demand for all types of art, including sculpture, increased. Thus, art began to be used to represent the governors and the Gods, as well as their aspirations.

Sculpture in Ancient Greece

Greek sculpture emerged in the Daedalic Period and developed in three different stages. In the first one, the Archaic Period, it slowly but continuously evolved and the most highly valued form of Greek sculpture was the kouros. During the second stage, the Classical Period, the culmination of Greek creativity was reached, with sculptors like Myron or Phidias achieving very high levels of realism with their sculptures. Finally, in the Hellenistic Period, the classical realism that was dominant in the previous stage was replaced by a greater expressionism in the works.

Sculpture in the Dark Ages

European sculptors lived a very "quiet" moment in which cities became impoverished and were very uncultured. Although there was some activity here and there, the period between 500 and 800 AD saw no great artistic movements in terms of sculpture.

Romanesque Sculpture

The revival of sculpture as an artistic discipline resurfaced again with Charlemagne. Despite his brief empire, his patronage of the arts was crucial in reviving European culture. In fact, many Romanesque and Gothic churches were built years later on the foundations of Carolingian architecture.

Already in the 11th century, the success of the Christian Crusades triggered the construction of new churches and cathedrals and inspired a wave of commissioned Romanesque sculptures. Finally, sculpture had acquired the importance it deserved. Thus, new sculpture and modelling workshops emerged thanks to the demand and knowledge of new master craftsmen.

Gothic Sculpture

The new techniques that were developed from the 12th century onwards in the construction of new churches, used in Gothic architecture, completely transformed the interiors and exteriors of these buildings. Thus, the new façades and portals were decorated with sculptural reliefs depicting biblical scenes and,

 

in addition, the columns of the interiors included numerous statues that can still be seen today in European churches and cathedrals.

The Exciting Art of Sculpture

Did you know about the fascinating history of all these years of sculpture? In fact, it is an exciting art that, century after century, has witnessed new techniques, different ways of living, changing beauty ideals and, thanks to its durability, has provided us with a wealth of knowledge. The passion that sculptors feel when carving each sculpture is reflected in the final result, don't you agree? Tell us which sculpture you have seen, from whatever period of history, that has most caught your attention, one that you just couldn’t take your eyes off. That way, we can all increase our bucket lists of trips to take just so we can discover them. And, of course, if you have any information that you would like to share with us, do not hold back! We would love to read your feedback in the comments below.

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Discover the most famous sculptures in the world

Discover the most famous sculptures in the world

Travelling, discovering new places and immersing yourself in the culture and wisdom of other cultures are some of the greatest pleasures life has to offer. If we could, we would spend all of our time discovering more and more about the customs and history of our ancestors. Sculptures, for example, have the capacity to provide us with a mountain of knowledge, thanks to the fact that they have been preserved for so many years. Discover with us the most famous stone sculptures, those that marked a turning point in the history of art.

Various different cultures and civilisations have left behind an array of sculptures, monuments and other structures that still amaze us to this day. Here is a selection of the most well-known.

David, the most famous Roman sculpture in the world

There is no doubt that when we think about all of the stone sculptures that exist throughout the world, the first one that will always come to mind when someone simply says the word “sculpture” is David by Michelangelo. It was sculpted at the beginning of the 16th century and is exactly 5.17 metres tall.

Impressive! From when it was first sculpted in the 16th century until today, it has been considered the best representation of the model of ideal western beauty.

The work represents King David when he confronted Goliath, and it marked a watershed for its time due to the influence of the counterweight adopted by the figure's posture. Where can you visit it? At the Accademia Gallery in Florence.


The Statue of Liberty, the queen of contemporary sculptures

Located on Liberty Island, to the south of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty welcomes everyone who approaches the Big Apple by sea. It was actually placed there because the sculptor wanted as many people as possible to be able to see it, so he chose the location himself. This iconic monument was a gift from France to the USA to commemorate the first centenary of the United States Declaration of Independence, and as a symbol of friendship and respect between the two nations. It is 46 metres tall and weighs 156 tons, hardly anything then!

The Venus de Milo, the quintessential Greek sculpture

The Venus de Milo, or the Aphrodite of Milos, was named after the Greek island where it was discovered, and is quite possibly the most famous Greek sculpture ever. It was a farmer who found it, unearthed it and sold it to a French ambassador in 1820. However, it is believed to have been created at some point between 130 and 100 B.C. to represent the god Aphrodite, or Venus from Roman mythology, the god of love and beauty. The statue is 2.11 metres tall and is currently one of the most popular sculptures for visitors to the Louvre in Paris.

Christ the Redeemer, the biggest tourist attraction in Brazil

Christ the Redeemer is one of the most well-known images of Rio de Janeiro. It is located at the peak of the Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca National Park, 700 metres above sea level. It is 38 metres tall and weighs around 1,200 tons, and is actually the largest Art Deco piece that has ever been made. Although the idea of raising a statue of Christ had already been proposed a century earlier, it was not until 1921 that this idea was picked up again. The construction then began in 1926. Wow!

Would you like to know an interesting fact about it? The heart is a perfect piece and inside of it is the family tree of Héctor Levi, the man responsible for building the statue. With this small gesture the designer wanted to symbolise the surrender of both himself and his family to Christ the Redeemer.

The gigantic moai stone sculptures on Easter Island This is more than just one statue, it is a collection of more than 600 monolithic stone sculptures that have led to a host of questions that have still not been answered with certainty to this day. Although nobody knows for sure when they were carved, it is most commonly believed that they were made by the Polynesian inhabitants of Easter Island (Chile), where they are found, as a representation of their ancestors between the 9th and 16th centuries.

Out of all the moai statues, the one that stands out the most is Te Tokanga, in Raraku. Although it was never finished, it is more than 21 metres tall and would have weighed more than 270 tons had it been completed.


Stonehenge, the stones that have caused controversy among experts

Stonehenge is one of the most well-known stone monuments. It is a collection of large blocks of metamorphic rock from the end of the Neolithic period. Construction began 5000 years ago and continued intermittently for over 1500 years. Although nobody knows exactly why it was built, what we do know is that the stone blocks are aligned to mark the sunrise and sunset during the winter and summer solstices. However, some historians and geologists claim that they are actually an astronomical calendar, while others argue that they had a religious use and were for holding ceremonies, or that they were used for medical purposes. The truth is that we will never be able to fully unravel the mysteries behind these stones, but that is what makes them so fascinating.

Famous sculptures that have marked a turning point

We wish we could visit and see every single one of the fine art monuments in the world with our own eyes. Our goal for now is to see all of those that we have just mentioned. Have you visited any of them? You must have! Tell us about the sculpture that you found most impressive and which ones are on your wish list to visit in the future.

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