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History of Stone Carving

History of Stone Carving

Stone carvings are the earliest known works of representational art carved into rock such as tuff or limestone. Rock engravings or Stone Age Art can be found in all parts of the prehistoric world such as Saharan Africa, South Africa, Scandinavia , Siberia and Australia.

These stone carvings are known in general as ‘rock art’ which include (1) Petroglyphs from the Greek words (petra = stone) and glypheia = carve, (2) Pictographs which include cave paintings and (3) Megalitic art which includes an arrangement of stones such as Stonehenge.

The first stone carvings or prehistoric sculptures were petroglyphs such as the Venus figurines which began to appear across Europe. The Venus figurine was a Upper Palaeolithic statue portrying a woman and was portable rather than fixed. One of the first such figurines was The Venus Impudique. The figurines were made from soft stone such as steatite, calcite, limestone or bone, ivory or clay. The statue would depict a woman’s form and was thought to have a ritual or symbolic or religious function.

Stone relief sculptures are also found in caves such as Cap Blanc, Roc de Sers and Roc aux Sorciers dating back to this time. These sculptures were made from limestone, sandstone, gypsum, alabaster, jade or clay. It was only from the Greek Archaic era from 650 – 480 BCE onwards that sculptures were made from marble.

The most common type of petroglyphs are capules which are cup shaped depressions found on rock surfaces made by human hammers. The paleolithic societies created stone carving tools using antlers for soft stone. Abrasives were also used to rub on stone and hammers were used for rough hewing of the stone.

With the development of iron, chisels, drills and saws were made for stone carving tools but they still relied on the ancient skill of abrasion to cut and remove stone. Carving begins with chiseling away large chuncks of redundant stone known as ‘roughing out’, ‘pitching’, or ‘knocking off’ using a point chisel, a wedge-shaped pitching chisel, and a hammer. Once the rough image beings to appear, the sculptor uses a basic hammer and point work to create more definition. Other tools such as the toothed chisel, claw chisel, rasp and riffler are also used to create the final piece of work. There are two classifications for stone carving tools: (1) Percussion tools: hammers, chisels and mallets (2) Abrasive tools: rasps, scrapers, stone abrasives and drills

Today, tools are very similar but with technology, water erosion and diamond saw cutting are used. Stone is also heated to high temperatures onto the surface with Oxy-acetylene torches for small jobs or lasers or jet heat torches for bigger projects.

Stone and Marble Carving Tools For Sale

Basic Stone Carving Tool Set: This set has nine items which includes a hammer (middle 700 gm), one pointer, one claw, three hardened steel chisels (6, 13 and 19 cm), one rasp, one diamond sharpener and a tool roll at £150

Stone Letter Carving Set: This set has four items which includes a hammer (light 400 gms), one euro carbide chisel (6mm), one diamond sharpener and one tool roll at £85

Basic Stone and Marble Carving Tool Set: This set includes a hammer (middle 700 gm), one pointer, one claw, three hardened steel chisels (6, 13 and 19 cm), one rasp, one diamond sharpener and a tool roll plus marble tools which include two carbide chisels (6 and 10mm) and one carbide pointer at £200

Basic Stone and Letter Carving Tool Set: This set includes a hammer (middle 700 gm), one pointer, one claw, three hardend steel chisels (6, 13 and 19 cm), one rasp, one diamond sharpener and a tool roll plus Letter Carving tools which includes a hammer (light 400 gms), one carbide euro chisel (6mm), one diamond sharpener and one tool roll at £220

Basic Marble Set of Three Tools: Perfect for working with marble with two carbide chisels of 6 and 10 mm and one carbide pointer at £60

Simon Burns-Cox is a professional Sculptor and Letter Carver based at The Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop in Scotland. He supplies Stone, Marble and Stone and Marble Carving Tools and equipment from Italy and the UK at competitive prices. If you would like to discuss your requirements, please contact Simon at www.simonburnscox.co.uk or email him at info@simonburnscox.co.uk and he will be happy to help.