sculpture is the art of creating three-dimensional forms from marble.
Sculpture is among the oldest of the arts. Even before painting cave
walls, early humans fashioned shapes from stone. From these beginnings,
artifacts have evolved to their current complexity. The point at
which they became art is for the beholder to decide. In any case,
sculptures rank among the greatest of human achievements.
Tools for Creating Marble Sculptures
The Italian terms for the basic carving tools of stone sculpture
are given here, and where possible the English terms have been
Mazza - The mallet used to strike the chisel
Scalpelli - The chisels. These come in various types:
Subbia - (the Point) a pointed chisel or punch
- (Round or Rondel Chisel) Literally, "little
Gradina - (Toothed Chisel or Claw) a chisel with
Scalpello - a flat chisel
Scapezzatore - (Pitcher or Pitching Tool) a hefty
chisel with a broad blunt
edge, for splitting.
Martello Pneumatico - Air hammer
Flessibile - an angle grinder, fitted with an electrolysis-applied
diamond studded blade
In addition to those hand tools listed above, the marble
sculptor would use a variety of hammers
- both for the striking of edge tools (chisels and hand drills) and for striking
the stone directly
(Bocciarda a Martello in Italian,
in French, Bush Hammer
in English). Following the work
of the hammer and chisel, the sculptor will sometimes refine the form further
use of Rasps,
Files and Abrasive Rubbing Stones
to smooth the surface contours of the form. To achieve a high-lustre
marble a very fine abrasive,
tin oxide, is used following the
use of pumice or finer grits of sandpaper.
Techniques for Creating Marble Sculptures
Hammer and point work is the technique used in working stone, in
use since Pygmalion. It consists of holding the pointed chisel
against the stone and swinging the hammer at it as hard as possible.
When the hammer connects with the striking end of the chisel,
its energy is transferred down the length and concentrates on
a single point on the surface of the block, breaking the stone.
This is continued in a line following the desired contour. It
may sound simple but many months are required to attain competency.
A good stone worker can maintain a rhythm of relatively longer
blows (about one per second), swinging the hammer in a wider
arc, lifting the chisel between blows to flick out any chips
that remain in the way, and repositioning it for the next blow.
This way, one can drive the point deeper into the stone and remove
more material at a time. Some stoneworkers also spin the subbia
in their fingers between hammer blows, thus applying with each
blow a different part of the point to the stone. This helps prevent
the point from breaking.
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