View Full Version : Sculpting Sandstone
The attached shows a simple piece I did in soft limestone. Mostly I work in clay, so I have minimal experience in carving.
Mum liked this one, and has asked me to do something similar in sandstone.
So, to the experts. Can you give me some pointers please. I want to keep it simple, given my low skill level and equipment. Am I dreaming?
Rod (Canberra, Australia)
PS This is an excellent site, well done.
04-23-2005, 10:16 AM
I'm hardly an expert, but I'd love to see some more angles of it if you have more pictures.
I've attached some more pics. (I've uploaded them, but I'm not sure how they'll appear with this posting since I haven't quite sussed out the technique).
Thanks for the tips Lostnyc. As you'll see from the pics, my limestone is extremely porous, and so soft, you can gouge it with your fingernail.
It may surprise you, but it gets quite cold here in Canberra, with heavy frosts in winter. Okay, snow is unusual, but the damage you describe is quite possible, so I'll have to keep an eye on it.
Another factor is likely to be air pollution. NY, being a biggish city, its air produces lots of strong mixtures capable of etching stone surfaces. Luckily, this is not a problem in Canberra.
Any advice re use of tools, etc?
04-30-2005, 02:23 PM
Rod: It looks like you're doing quite well with the tools so far. I don't have any tips because I haven't sculpted sandstone, but I like how you've integrated the chissel marks into the sculpture.
Randall: Thanks for the tips on outdoor stone. I've been thinking of moving to outdoor stones (I'm currently sculpting in soapstone and alabaster)... any other suggestions for materials?
04-30-2005, 02:57 PM
I have to agree with the commnets about sandstone and weathering. Here in Texas, many of the 1880 - 1900 era courthouses were built of local limestones for the field with a red sandstone from the pecos river valley as the material for trim detail and ornamentation. The limestone is usually in real good shape, but the sandstone carvings are highly eroded. However, I do believe that there are some sandstones that have good histories as exterior building material.
Now, if you do want to carve sandstone, please take all the proper precautions to keep the dust out of your lungs. Unlike limestone, which is calcium carbonate and water soluble, sandstone by definition is composed of quartz grains -silicate- and often the grains are cemented together with silicate material also. The end result of breathing that sort of dust is a condition known as silicosis.
Also be aware that the quartz minerals are harder than tool steel, so your chisels will take a beating, and wear faster. On those occassions when I'm working with sandstone (restoration pieces on those above mentioned courthouses), or granite, I use cabide tipped tools, wear a cartridge type breather (which I hate)and work the stone outside my shop so the dust does not contaminate everything inside the shop.
Julianna Alabaster is not very good for outdoor work. Soapstone, on the otherhand, aside from being soft and easily scratched, is essentially impervious and resists weathering extremely well. A good quality limestone is a pleasure to carve if you haven't tried that stone.
05-05-2005, 11:39 PM
iagree about the weathering of sandstone,but... with a good penetrating sealer you can slowdown the weathering effect, . i think with some old tools you'll be fine carving sandstone only you gotta sharpen very often and it eats up the tools cause it's like carving a grinding stone.
heres a picture of a sandstone sculpture i made. give it a try.
05-07-2005, 09:25 AM
Thanks for all the comments on stone!
My sculptures are all currently "indoor sculptures" for the exact reasons John noted. It sounds like limestone should be my next material to try; if I remember correctly, Kingston ON (a few hours drive from where I am) is a good place for getting limestone.
And granite is a much harder stone than alabaster, isn't it? I do not yet have the facilities or budget for power tools (although I figure if they could carve marble by hand in ancient Greece, I could bulk myself up to do the same ;)).
05-07-2005, 09:34 AM
If you want a soft stone,but a little more durable how about trying alabaster.It is much"softer" than marble ,but it polishes and textures nice.It can also be translusant.Are there any stone yard over there?Go snooping around for new stones and you might really find something you conect with.If you buy any tools,get good ones,they will last and perform better.
05-07-2005, 09:56 AM
I've actually been working in alabaster for the past year or so, and quite like it. I have a few pieces of stone which I'm eagar to start because I can already see what they'll look like when I'm done.
There aren't many stone yards out here. Kitchener-Waterloo is the clay and glass city, and I've been tempted to move out to somewhere between Toronto and Kingston (which, aside from Vancouver, is where the stone is in Canada). Employment in that area is difficult to find though.
Thanks for the tips on tools. I've been saving for some of those fancy diamond-coated rasps, because I run mine down too quickly.
(Rod: Sorry for hijacking your post! :o )
05-07-2005, 10:04 AM
Hey thet make diamond coated spounges for sanding that come in different grits,they work really nice.I think Montoya seel them....
05-07-2005, 10:11 AM
Seriously? Or are you pulling my leg? :)
05-07-2005, 10:48 AM
Nope, He's not. Many of the granite and marble fabrication industry suppliers have them. Called diamond hand pads, they come in grits from 50 to 1800. They come on a sponge type back, or a velcro backed sheet that can be used as is or attached to a block. Size is roughly 2-1/2 x 4 inches. I find that they are very effective on flat or convex surfaces, less so on concave surfaces or deep intersections. Oh Many of the good diamond products on the marked are Canadian made thanks to the new huge diamond fields you all have up there, so look locally first.
05-07-2005, 11:44 AM
alabastar....well it works for carving but it scratches so easily, then some of them have grains that add to your art or take away from it.. Paul at artcity has some nice brownish- khaki colored alabastar that polishes and finishes really good "quiyama alabastar" is what he calls it, it's quarried somewhere close to Ojai CA.alabastar does not have a long shelf life (1) the stone holds moisture in it naturally so it too has a tendency of eventually comming apart in layers because each of the grains is a different deposit (sedimentary layers). during the wet sanding of any alabastar it is recomended to let the stone sit and dry b4 sealing or you will trap the moisture which will speedup the weathering even faster from in going out.a good way to prove this is to take a heat gun and just slightly put some heat to the polished stone and you see instantly that cracks with form and spider all over the stone, this also happens to an alabastar that has'nt been wet sanded.
i did a sculpture called "Sally Hemmings" and she cracked the same way with heat.marble sealer is the best sealer for alabastar though.
heres a picture of one sculpture i did in "quiyama alabastar" sealed with mop and glo
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