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The Stone Corner

Finishing Soft Stone

FINISHING SOFT STONEWINGS OF CHNGE in Utah calcite by JoAnn Duby at her Art City studio
By JoAnn Duby

Here we share the experience and knowledge of those who have found their own answers to some of the inevitable and sometimes nagging questions forever popping up in our sculpture projects. Newcomers will find it useful and even those who have been carving for some time can never deny the benefit of a tune-up.

Soapstone, Chlorite, alabaster, limestone, Pyrophyllite

I break the carving down into four stages:
• Clean-up, if it is a rough boulder stone.
• Rough-out of design.
• Completion of the design, sanding to 220 grit.
• With silicone carbide paper, sanding to 320 grit, and then polishing to 3000 grit. Wax it if desired or if it's going outdoors.
DREAM OF WINGS in British Columbia Chlorite by Penelope Crittenden
I find you can really move lines around till you get to 320 grit. To get a great finish on soft stone I very rarely use diamonds they are just too aggressive for soft stone. It's like taking a machine gun to a knife fight......way over-kill.

You need to clean up the carving area where you're going to do your finishing work. I use inter tube tires filled with sand as my sand bags (Learned from Camp B.) Then I put plastic bags around those. You want a clean environment and you want to rinse the area between sanding grits. Hose the table down, rinse and wash the sculpture with clean water after every grit; pretend it's an operating table. It's easy to pick up a rougher grit and put scratches back in your sculpture if you don't do this.

SPIRIT OF THE HORSE in Indus river limestone by Lane TompkinsRemember to put your biggest effort in your lower grits. When you get to 320, we consider that to be polishing and in some instances you can stop sanding there when dealing with limestone; the soft limestone anyway.

I don't start with the wet sanding till I am at 220 grit paper. (Buy a good quality paper. Not Harbor Freight.) Auto body shops or car repair shops have wet and dry papers in the high ranges, 1000 to 3000. You can get great paper on-line from Norton, Pearl and many more.

Chlorite and Alabaster

I sand up to 600 grit or 800 grit, let dry for a day outside if it's warm or inside if cold, and then apply sealers.

To enhance or not to enhance - that is the question. Enhance if you like the look of your stone wet, use a natural sealer if you like the dry look to your stone.

For the dry stone look, 511’s Porous Plus Sealer is the best, but it’s expensive, so I use 511 or 611 Miracle sealers or their impregnator.
REFLECTIONS in Italian cloud alabaster by Penelope Crittenden
For the wet look, my favorite is Tenax Ager. There are many sealers to choose from, very expensive to cheap. Talk to other stone carvers for their input.

Apply the sealer with clean brush or cloth, let stand on the stone for around 10 minutes. Do not do this in direct sunshine it can dry too fast and become like sticky glue. (If that happens just apply more sealer and wipe off.) Sometimes you need to apply the sealer twice. Read the back of the can; they really do know what they are talking about.

I finish with a rag wheel on a drill or a slow die grinder (key word SLOW) that I got from Randy Zieber at Neolithic Stone. I use a Chrome polishing bar with the Rag wheel to get the very polished look.

Soapstone, Chlorite, PyrophylliteWIND DANCER in Green Soapstone by Penelope Crittenden

I start with 220 grit and then go right to 400 grit then 800 and 1000 I skip grits with these because it so soft and 220 grit will become 320 grit when well used. For instance, I use a lot of pressure when I start the grit, then when I have sanded the whole piece; I do a lighter sanding with the used paper. Then finish the same as with the sealers on alabaster. I sometimes just use wax finishes, I'll warm the piece with a heat gun or hair dryer and apply the wax (for soap stones and chlorite only) I always wax if the piece goes out doors. You can get good waxes from your hardware store; even shoe polish is a great wax. The best is bowling alley wax. Many sources for that on the internet.
INFINITY in pyrophyllite by Randy Zieber

A Conversation About Marble

Student: Where does marble come from?

Teacher:  Marble comes from limestone. You could say it's a "newer" limestone.

S: What? Marble is really just a 'newer' limestone?

T: Yes. According to the Vermont Marble Company, "the original sedimentary limestones were formed in an ancient seaway, mainly from the remains of marine organisms and lime muds resulting from chemical precipitation. These original sediments consolidated, forming coherent rocks termed "limestones."

S: Oh, that's why often there are a little bit of shells, fossils and mud in some limestones.

T: That's right. 

S: Well, how did limestone become marble? 

T: "Subsequent heat, pressure and hydrothermal solutions brought on by a period of earth movements, resulted in the extensive deformation of the limestone beds and a re-crystallization that produced the highly crystalline character of commercial marble."

S: Ah ha. That's why marble is tighter grained (harder) and shinier.

T: Yes. Basically, marble is a metamorphic rock resulting from recrystallization of limestone.

S: You mean marble is a newer limestone.

T: (Sigh.) Yes.

Geology: Limestone to Marble

The Geology of Sculpting Stone Series

Click to Download:

Pacific Northwest Granite  

Columbia River Basalt 

Indiana Limestone

BC Nephrite 

The above series is designed to explore one key aspect of stone sculpture that is unique to the art form, its geology.

Why should you care about the geology of stone?

In a rapidly changing and competitive art world, stone sculpture is one of the few arts that can tie back to the beginning of art and is of a of medium unlike any other.  Knowing more about the geology of the stone will allow stone sculptors to:

  • Select stone that has a compelling history for the sculptor and audience alike
  • Marvel at its various elements of grain, color and texture as it is worked
  • Consider how the chosen artistic form relates to the science of the stone
  • Weave into the final art work story a geologic component that enhances the interest in the work by the potential buyers

Each of the presentations covered a commonly worked stone by NWSSA members and follows a structured outline:

  • The Stone Defined
    • General Description, Physical/Chemical Properties and Historic Use
    • Specimens (macro and thin section)
    • Specific Occurrences
  • Geology
    • Age and Geologic Description
    • Formation Environment and Processes
    • Global Paleogeographic Setting
    • Modern Analogs
  • Select Creations
    • Art
    • Architecture

I hope you enjoy these presentations and please use them to enliven your art.

Michael E. Yeaman

YeamanSignature

The Stone Column Jade

The Stone Column
Jade
by Bill Laprad
by Bill Laprade


Ed. Note: The Stone of Heaven is one of the most revered natural substances in the world, such has been the case for centuries, particularly in Asia. What other mineral would make a Chinese emperor offer fifteen cities for a jade carving that he could hold in the palm of his hand or make Montezuma smile when he heard that the Spaniard Cortez was interested only in gold, since Montezuma's most precious possession was jade. 

Since Neolithic times, no other mineral has been so venerated, nor so often intertwined with the dead to accompany them into the afterlife. In this life, to the Chinese, jade embodies the five cardinal virtues of life: charity, modesty, courage, justice, and wisdom. But China and Asia have not had a monopoly on jade; jade art and tools have been found in the Maori, Olmec, Aztec, and Mayan cultures, and among the NW American Coast Indians and Eskimos.

The English word jade has a circuitous derivation. It started with the Spanish expression "piedra de hijada", meaning the "stone of the loins", because it was claimed that this stone could cure diseases of the kidneys. This gave rise to the word nephrite, from the Greek word for kidneys: nephros. The French equivalent l'ejade eventually evolved into le jade, and its English translation, jade. 

Physical Traits
Jade is actually two minerals: nephrite and jadeite.

Read more ...

How To: Finishing Soft Stone

 JoAnne Duby

Here we share the experience and knowledge of those who have found their own answers to some of the inevitable and sometimes nagging questions forever popping up in our sculpture projects. Newcomers will find it useful and even those who have been carving for some time can never deny the benefit of a tune-up.

FINISHING SOFT STONE  
By JoAnne Duby

Soapstone, Chlorite, alabaster, limestone, Pyrophyllite
I break the carving down into four stages:

• Clean-up, if it is a rough boulder stone.
• Rough out of design.
• Completion of the design, sanding up to 220 grit.
• With silicone carbide paper, sanding up to 320 grit, and then polishing up to 3000 grit. Wax it if desired or if it's going outdoors.

I find you can really move lines around till you get to 320 grit. To get a great finish on soft stone I very rarely use diamonds they are just too aggressive for soft stone. It's like taking a machine gun to a knife fight......way over-kill.

Read more ...