RAF Boy Entrants Monolith at National Memorial Arboretum, Ancaster limestone. Sycamore Key, Hoptonwood on a slate base. Detail from Fruits of the Forest, Ancaster limestone.

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About Viv

About Stone Carving

There are numerous types of stone in the UK. Relatively few are suitable for carving as opposed to stone which is used for other purposes such as in buildings or public amenity areas. Viv generally carves larger work using limestone from the Portland quarries or from the Ancaster quarry in Lincolnshire as well as from Hoptonwood in Derbyshire. Occasionally he carves in Red Sandstone from the Hollington quarry, Polyphant from Cornwall or Alabaster. Much softer than limestone, Alabaster is carved with wood carving tools and has an unusual translucent quality.

Alabaster disc.

Alabaster disc.

Two tonne block of Ancaster before carving Leaves of the Forest.

Two tonne block of Ancaster before carving Leaves of the Forest.

He obtains his stone either direct from the quarry as specific sized blocks or as off-cuts which might otherwise go to landfill.

 His sculpture group, the Shapeshifters Sculpture Company, has also sourced good quality limestone from buildings about to be refurbished e.g. the Leicester City Police Station where some of the stone was not required in the new building and was surplus and can be re-carved.

The other source of stone is to buy from a stone dealer and Viv uses Nigel Owen  (www.nigelowenstone.co.uk) of Yelvertoft, Northamptonshire.

 

One of the clay maquettes for Leaves of the Forest

One of the clay maquettes for Leaves of the Forest.

The process for carving appears straightforward using a maquette made in plasticene or clay or a found object such as a seed or leaf. Alternatively, or perhaps in addition, a template is made of the object and used to guide the carving.

A suitable stone is selected to meet the requirements of the carving in both texture and delicacy of form. Sometimes Viv does not use a maquette and carves direct trying to follow the flow of the stone in finding a form.

Paper template for a carving of a small Portland limestone block.

Paper template for a carving of a small Portland limestone block.

Alabaster disc held by non-slip rubber on a sandbag.

Alabaster disc held by non-slip rubber on a sandbag.

Small pieces bring their own problems including finding ways to keep the stone steady whilst carving.

Roughing-out a red sandstone block.

Roughing-out a red sandstone block.

Blocking out is the first task to reduce the stone broadly to the shape desired.

After that the form is refined further and the detail starts to emerge.

Further work on the red sandstone block.

Further work on the red sandstone block.

Polyphant stone before polishing.

Polyphant stone before polishing.

Finally, there are decisions to be made on the texturing of the surface and selecting areas to be polished which the viewer will then want to touch.

Wet and dry produces smooth surfaces followed by an application of beeswax or oxalic acid.

 
Copyright 2009 Viv Astling. All rights reserved.