View Full Version : New to Stone Carving
08-27-2005, 10:58 PM
I've recently started stone carving, having taken a 6 week course this summer. I carved a rough horse head in limestone, which came out much better then I expected. I'm really enjoying it, and have built a heavy duty workbench in my garage, and gotten a set of carbide tipped hand tools. And the all important block of stone to carve, which I purchased from the school where I took the course.
One question I have for folks who have been stone carving for a while, how do you get you stone? I can get limestone from the school, but they aren't really set up to sell much. Marbles, though, I'm going to need to get from somewhere else. I've found some online dealers. Does anyone have one they would recommend? Is there some easier/better way?
Welcome to the group, Jeff.
You will get some helpful posts from stone sculptors, I think, but meanwhile you've already started the process. I work mostly in steel and have found my resources partly by asking other sculptors, as you have by posting here. Also root out sculptors local to you and find out where they get theirs. Look in the phone book under "stone". Even if a dealer in your area specializes in masonry supplies, or whatever, tell them what you're looking for. They probably know every stone supplier of every type for miles around. Or try asking your local monument (headstones, that is) dealer for a reference. You'll probably find yourself talking shop with those guys about other things, too, like what are the best ways to move stone and so on. Most people are flattered when others are interested in their area of expertise.
Best of luck with your new love.
08-28-2005, 10:17 AM
There is a thread from about 2 weeks ago with numerous mail order sources. I am wondering on that note why I can't get a shipment of Indiana Limestone from the quarry. Anybody in Indiana? Also Texas limestone has beautiful carving stone but you have to buy quantity. The biggest cost is shipping. Where do you live? Remeber there are local sources of stone in almost every state.
08-28-2005, 11:31 AM
Welcome to the group.
Starting out, you will want to sourse your material as local as possible. As Blue mentioned, shipping stone is what breaks the bank. There have already been a few good suggestions. Sometimes monument companies have some cubic marble stock lying around, but most work with granite now a days. Landscape companies often have stone on hand. In fact I once picked up some nice carving Georgia marble chunks in a bin of landscape boulders at home depot.. Sometimes one can find pieces of Indiana limestone and the occassional marble piece where older buildings are being torn down, or in the store yards of demolition companies.. Around here, most of the mills and quarries will sell "boneyard" material (Texas limestone) for around $150.00/ ton. Problem is that shipping that ton of stone to Maryland could cost a thousand bucks. So if you really get into the carving, or are looking for a specific sized block, It would be best to get you a good truck and take the occassional road trip.
Marble from Vermont, Tennesse, Georgia, Colorado.
Soapstone from Virginia and Vermont
Good carving limestone from Indiana, Kansas, Texas (and a lot of other places too, limestone being the most abundant type of stone on the planet)
And, somewhere in Maryland there is a marble source that was used in the national capitol, but the quarry may be long gone, and I don't know about it's carving characteristics.
08-28-2005, 01:04 PM
Great suggestion. Got pink Georgia marble from a building/landscape supply place! I'm kind of wierd but I used to go camping and pick up blocks near quarries in Rutland, Vt., Barre, Vt., Tate, Ga. Georga Marble Co., and some forgotten quarry in East Tn. that the guy was trying to quarry a black marble that was nearly impossible to carve. Tn. Pink is nice though. Regarding the capitol: The marble is from Vermont, Georgia, and Colorado. Georgia white is predominate because it hasc huge crystals and very hard. Vt marble the least because its relatively soft. I'm not sure about the colorado "yule?" because I think its hardness is inbetween. I thought about writting a book about quarries, I absolutely love them, especially Carrara, staid at the Michelagelo Hotel my veranda overlooked a stream that was always the color of milk. Ah, memories from a deteriated mind!
08-28-2005, 03:12 PM
If you are into quarries , do you know this web site?
08-28-2005, 09:14 PM
Hey Joe, if you are up for a road trip the Jasper Marble Fest is coming during the first full weekend in October. During the festival they lay out pieces of marble just for the taking. Have picked up a few good pieces myself. Just make sure you have some strong backs to help heave it into your truck.
Here's a link:http://www.georgiamarble-mountain.org/marblefest.html It's not a really big event but it has plenty of marble to pick up!
09-01-2005, 12:03 AM
Thanks for the info. In my online shopping I'd been getting the impression that shipping would be the killer, easily doubling the cost of any stone. More so if delivered to my house, since a special truck will be needed (no loading dock or fork lift.) Of course, less the 150 pounds can be shipped by UPS, but that is a really expensive way to get it.
Quite a nice find at Home Depot. Around here I'm lucky to find any natural stone at all at Home Depot or Lowe's. The pre-formed cinderblock-like stuff is all the rage.
I expect a truck is in my future, although I'd like to put that off until I have a few sculptures completed.
I met someone who has a farm in Virginia. He claims that he has limestone boulders from pebble to car sized all over his property, which I can have for the taking. I gather he would be glad to see some of them go. I don't know if they will be suitable for carving, but I think I'll give them a look. Has anyone aquired stone this way? Would weathering make the stone less suitable for carving?
09-01-2005, 05:08 PM
When (if) you go out to your friends place, carry a cabinet rasp and maybe a chisel& hammer. If the rasp cuts the stone fairly easily, you probably can carve it. A lot of my very first attempts came from out in the pasture behind the house.
Good luck, and keep carving
09-01-2005, 05:48 PM
Thanks for the site I LOVE QUARRIES! Jef I am up for a road trip for sure! Although I have to check with the boss :rolleyes: I would really like to get out of Florida and have been putting off Indiana for years but they told me I could load my truck for free. Indiana limestone is a dream to carve! Georgia marble on the othe hand borders on a nightmare (no offence please) but the crystal are big! I agree about the hammer and chisel or point to check the stone. Also get online and study the different types too. Also there was a book written 15 years ago called Marble. Nothing cooler than pounding stone, I weathered a long fruitless marriage that way!!!
09-11-2005, 10:26 PM
You may want to check with the local monument companies. I've gotten many pieces of marble from these places through the years. The monument companies (tombstone companies) usually have pieces that the family have had replaced and the old markers are "traded in" on newer ones. Likewise, these companies order many tons of stone each year and you may ask that they add on additional stone that you can buy. As stated, the cost of the stone is cheap compaired to the shipping costs. Alabaster may be another thought, - Colorado Alabaster Supply - look at their websight. Good luck, - Kinder
04-08-2006, 02:06 PM
my friend a road trip for ind. limestone is your best bet see here they give the spawls away "scrap"and the carving stock is cheap if you know where to get it but dont forget stone mills open at 6 am and close at 230 pm and dont work on weekends i know i work at one then again if it paid fairly good id bring it too you take er easy
04-09-2006, 08:09 PM
"Would weathering make the stone less suitable for carving?"
Hi - As an inveterate scrounger I gotta say all the suggestions you have gotten as far as getting stone are good ones, just keep on the lookout. More than once I've gotten stone from buildings that were being renovated and when the construction company was trashing part of the old facade I'd stop and ask, and usually they'd tell me I could have whatever I could haul off.
As far as marble or stone beiong outdoors and made unsuitable for carving, I have read a lot of people saying that IS the case.
However, I have of carved all types/colors of Georgia marble, several Tennessee marbles, Vermont (Champlain) black marble, Alabama marble, Colorado Yule, several types of Italian marble (Carrara white, perlato sicilia, travertine, portoro) and Indiana limestone that has been out and exposed to the weather since the mid-1930s. In its 'wild' state it all looked to be the same undifferentiated gray, but knocking a corner off the block with hammer told you what it was.
Underneath the thin surface coating of gray pollution and algae the stone is usually clean, except for the part in contact with the soil. Some of these types stain worse (Yule, Carrara white, Alabama white) than others lying on that soil for 50 years or so (during the 1980s I obtained several tons from a cutting yard that had closed during the Depression and reverted to woods), but though some blocks had to have an inch removed off the surface to get past the stain I have not found any types that were not carvable.
Unfortunately the site where I (and numerous other carvers) got all this free bounty is now paved-over into a parking lot. There are still blocks of marble up to the size of small cars under the blacktop. Oh well.
You are up in the Virginia area? The black soapstone quarried near Charlottesville is good to learn on with hand tools -- easy to carve and durable outdoors (though because of its relative softness a polished surface will scratch easily). It is fine-grained and homogenous so is very good for firgurative/naturalistic work as well as abstract. For a harder stone the Alberene serpentine is quarried not far from the soapstone. I think there are some slate quarries up that way too (grayblack), and though not the bset thing for massive in-the-round works if you're interested in learning lettercutting you couldn't ask for a much better carving vehicle.
Good Carving to You,
04-09-2006, 09:21 PM
It is correct that stone is tought to ship. I got 10 tons of Indiana Limestone last year. It cost as much to ship as to buy it. Indiana Limestone is great to carve. Also if you are interested go to West Rutland, VT. they have many marble quarries and some shops that only cut marble. I bought 3 pieces of Danbury Marble one 150 lbs and 2 ea 90 lbs for approx. $180. They had a very easy procedure. Take some yellow tape with you go out into the stone yard. Any boulder that you like tie the yellow ribbon around it. Then their guy with forklift comes by picks it up and loads it for you. Very civilized way of living.
You might want to consider getting an engine hoist to move your stone with. Saves your back and your friends backs. They run about $200. My engine hoise moved all of my stone around my studio - no problem. Some of the limestone moved weighs 3,200 lbs.
07-09-2006, 12:23 PM
I am new to this site and was referred here from another. I am in the process of purchasing an abandoned marble quarry. There are about 40 squared blocks anywhere from 1X4X6 to 4X4X12 alog with about 500 yrds of chips or dressing along with a 1/2 acre quarry. Marble is pink , the quarry was worked in the 1800's.
I was curious as to the value of blocks. Also how much of a market. The quarry is still workable. Color of marble is rose.
Thanks for above info
07-09-2006, 12:59 PM
Where is the quarry you are purchasing? Welcome to the site.
07-09-2006, 01:04 PM
3 1/2 hrs. from Atlanta. When I have deed in hand I will post pics and give exact location.
PS this is a description of the marble.
" to send an expert to *****************to examine the amount and the character of its marble deposits. The agent reported the quantity inexhaustible and the quality the finest variegated marble in the world.
of course that was from along time ago and just one mans opinion ;)
07-09-2006, 05:45 PM
A couple of minor points: you won't need carbide tipped tools for working limestone, or marble for that matter. The less expensive tempered steel will be fine for most work. Regarding the quarry: the value of the marble you find there will depend on a lot of things. If the marble has been sitting out since the 19th century it will almost certainly be cotto (cooked) by the weather conditions, and may be regarded by sculptors as inferior stone. (Mind you, Michelangelo produced his David from just such a piece of stone!). Left over stone from quarries also contain a lot of internally fractured pieces. These fractures result from the tumbling, so you may find that much of the smaller pieces you refer to are useless. Finally, have a good sculptor, or stone expert, check the stone for you and ask him/her to assess the crystalline structure of the marble. Good marble has a fine structure, which allows for fine carving (say, Carrara statuario). Marble with a coarse crystalline structure chips, and is often not recommended for, say, busts, where fine work on lips, noses and eyes are needed. When I buy marble I am always concerned, also, to assess the mineral content of the marble. Mineral deposits cannot be carved, and will chip out as you cut, leaving pock marks and small holes. Few sculptors will work with such material, even though this marble can be put to other uses, such as cemetery monumental work.
You refer to the marble as variegated. Be careful about this. Some very beautiful variegated marble is also very unstable, and can only be cut by diamond discs (Not hand tools). Keep in mind that variegation results from impurities, and the impurities introduce varieties of hardness and structure. (The best marble, from Carrara and Paros, are almost completely pure calcium carbonate). Try to have a professional assessment of what you have here, the workability of the material and what uses the marble can be put to.
07-09-2006, 07:08 PM
The marble in question is part of the same seam or fold as this .
The stones were left sitting where they were dressed. Color was pinkish, grain was tight. I believe the quarry just went broke and was abandoned.
Personaly I am not looking to really do anything but build a small get away cabin with some marble incorperated in it. Perhaps swap some blocks for other items or maybe even take up carving.
07-09-2006, 09:28 PM
Hi Matik--Can I call you Otto???
Glad you found your way over here. That Tennessee stone is really nice.
I visited the quarry and mill in Friendsville a few years back, and hauled some stone home with me. That quarry has a family connection with one of the vermont quarries so I was able to get some blocks of Danby also. The Tennessee pink came in a real fine grained stone, and also a coarser grained (bigger crystal) variety. As I recall, many of the quarry blocks shower color variation pink to gray, and I had a conversation with the quarry master about the possibility of getting long pieces within the one color. Possible, but expensive.
Keep us posted as to your progress on the purchase.
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