Sunday, 3 February 2013

Stone carving workshop - decorative motifs

You may remember that last summer I went on a stone carving workshop, at the Mushroom Works in Newcastle.  I did lettering carving then, and was very pleased with the result, 'Wow'.  I've just been on a second workshop at the same place, this time on decorative motifs.

The course was run by the same tutor, Peter Graham, and followed much the same format.

Peter had standard images we could use if we wanted, but we were encouraged to bring designs of our own to use.  Being quite keen on all things Lindisfarne Gospels at the moment, I selected a motif from that, featuring dogs again.  Unfortunately, I'd drawn it up for a piece of stone about the same size as Wow, but the stone provided this time was bigger, which meant hurriedly redrawing it.  Plus, Peter advised me to simplify it a bit, to make it easier for a beginner like me.

Here's the original design and the redrawn version:

I traced this onto the stone using carbon paper:

The first thing I needed to do was to carve out the outline of the design:

And the outline of the fiddly bits in the centre, though not the mouths and eyes, which were too fiddly to attempt just yet:

I took out the rest of the fiddly bits:

And then, using a claw chisel, started removing all the stone around the main design:

This was hard work and took ages, though at least I could sit down - it was done with the stone fastened to the table with a clamp, to stop it moving about, at least as much.

But I got there in the end!

I rather like the textured effect of the claw chisel, though as I didn't have time to work on a smooth finish, that's just as well.

I then, and almost finally, I needed to add the detail - the places where the dogs' tongues overlap, ears and teeth and so forth:

After that, it was a case of improving what I already had: deepening the cut around the design to make it stand out better, and neatening stuff up.

It would have been nice to round it off a bit so there wasn't quite such a severe edge, but I ran out of time.

I'm slightly ambivalent about it; I don't think it's come out as well as Wow, but there was a lot more to do in not much time, and I am a complete novice after all.  It improved a lot after a good clean-up once I got it home - a scrub with very fine wet and dry sandpaper and water:

Freshly spruced up, in the winter sunshine:

What do you think?


  1. Don't be so hard on yourself I think you have done a wonderful job. Especially considering you are a newbie. I don't think I could have got this far in 2 sessions.

  2. I think given the complexity of the design and the fact that it's only your second go at this technique, you've done an amazing job! It's a lovely finished item.