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Basic Medium & Large Carving Instructions

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Introduction

Congratulations! You have an opportunity to produce your own work of art.
As you carve your personal soapstone animal, you must remember
to have fun.

 

Tools

Rasp
100 grit wet/dry sandpaper
320 grit wet/dry sandpaper
600 grit wet/dry sandpaper
Tung oil (food grade)

 

Prep

Think of what kind of carving you would like to do, is it going to be realistic or more of a stylized carving ? 
There are many different ways to carve the same animal. Look at pictures in books or on the internet, even if it’s one for the head and separate images for the body. Looking at a toy model of the same animal can also be helpful. It is good to find pictures with multiple angles.

 

Set up a bucket of water to carve/sand in, or dip 
the carving in as you go.

 

Water keeps the dust 
down, making clean up much easier.

Shaping

Look at your soapstone animal and decide which large areas need to be removed. Using a rasp, begin to file these areas away. Start with the areas that require the most material to be removed.

 

  • Look at the feet of the animal; begin to file in between the legs to make them less blocky

  • Look at the head; usually animal bodies are larger than the head so file them down more in scale with the body

  • Fins, tails and ears are usually small and tapered. Do these parts at the end as they are easy to snap/file off if they get too thin.

There are natural fractures in the stone and it may be easy to drop your piece while carving. In case of breakage, do not panic! Let your piece dry, then use superglue to fix the break. Allow time for the glue to cure and continue sculpting.

Work your way back and forth around the animal, not doing too much in one section at a time. Keep looking at all angles as you carve. It is easy to get carried away on one section and remove too much material. If this happens, you will just end up making the whole 
sculpture smaller.

Sanding

Once satisfied with your animal’s shape, it is time to begin sanding. Starting with the coarsest mesh of sandpaper, sand away all the unwanted tool marks, sandpaper 1 will still leave small scratches behind , this is ok. Follow 
with the next coarsest to remove any unwanted scratches from sandpaper 1, your carving should start feeling 
much smoother now !!   ALL unwanted scratches should be removed before sandpaper 3 as it just smoothes out 
the existing surface. Continue until the sculpture is nice and smooth. This is an important step!  The better your 
sanding on stage 1 the easier stage 2 will be and then stage 3 will be easier and faster as well, the more attention 
to proper sanding the better the sculpture will look when oiled. Sanding in water is a must, because frequently 
dipping it will show you where more sanding is needed. Leave your sculpture overnight to dry, or warm it on the 
stovetop on low until the stone is completely dry.

Oiling

Included in the kit is a food grade tung oil. Apply 
the oil with a thin rag, wiping excess approximately 
an hour or so after applying.  Allow 24 hours before 
applying a second coat. Tung oil leaves a more matte 
finish. With soapstone varying a little in hardness 
due to the metamorphic process, some will absorb 
more oil than others.  If you want your carving to 
be super shiny, spray with an aerosol water-based 
wood varnish available from most local hardware 
stores. Traditionally, carvings are heated up and 
beeswax is applied to the surface.

Breakage

Sometimes stones get dropped or seams in the stone let go and break while carving. When this happens, the first thing to do is stop carving.
Rinse off any dust on the carving and let dry. Do not rub the pieces together, as this may alter your contact points making the breakage point more noticeable. Once dry, apply a medium viscosity superglue on one of your contact points. Place the two pieces together, squeezing them together until excess glue weeps out the sides. Place your carving it in a spot where it will sit undisturbed until the glue sets, you may wipe off the excess glue that has been pushed out now, depending on glue this may sit 15-30 minutes or overnight if you want to be sure its dry. 
Once cured, use a rasp to remove any exposed excess glue, and continue carving. If there is a big gap missing when you break it you can make a filler by mixing with extra dust with an epoxy glue.

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