of my sculpture is carved from Soapstone
or Alabaster. I also love to carve Carrara
contains talc, which creates the slippery feel that gives it its
name. It varies greatly in hardness and density.
is my favorite to use for teaching. It comes in many wonderful
colors. It is soft enough so my students can finish a piece in
a few weeks. This makes it "success oriented", since
it is easy to work. It will take a good polish, so there is a
lot of satisfaction in the feel of the finished piece.
drawback to the soapstones is that metals can scratch them. The
softest Brazilian that I use can be scratched by jewelry or a
button, so you must be careful when handling it. I seal the surface
of all my work with Johnson's Paste Wax. If there is a minor scratch
you may be able to simply rub it out with a soft cloth. Deeper
scratches may require wet sanding and polishing.
Italian Green Soapstone
usually translucent green. My supply came from Gian Carlo
Stoneworks in Canada. It has an interesting history. Originally
the US Government purchased it from Italy during the Great
Depression for use in WPA art projects. It was never used,
and later was sold to my supplier. It comes to me in the
original wooden boxes, packed with wood shavings.
is the hardest of the soapstones that I use. It comes from
a quarry in Albemarle County, Virginia, near Charlottesville.
Native Americans used it for bowls and ornaments, which
can be seen in museums today.
is acid and alkali-proof, so it is often used for sinks
and countertops, even in chemistry and biology labs. It
is soft enough to shape with basic tools, but dense and
fine-grained so that it resists staining.
is the only soapstone that can be left outdoors for an extended
time. It is much harder than the Brazilian stone, but can
still be scratched by hardened steel.
Stone is the newest soapstone that I use. This beautiful
stone is found near the village of Kisii in the Tabaka Hills of
Western Kenya. It ranges in color from deep gold to rich burgundy,
pale pink to mauve and black to creamy white. Each piece has it's
own unique combination of color and patterns. The various colorations
and patterns running through it are formed as different minerals
(particularly iron) leach through the stone as it sits underground.
You will often see dancers and family groups made by native carvers
from the Kisii tribe of Kenya for sale in African gift shops.
is a highly compacted form of gypsum. It is available in a wide
range of colors. I have three favorites:
has a fine texture and is usually white or pink in color, sometimes
translucent and sometimes beautifully veined.
Crystal Alabaster is a beautiful translucent white.
It has fine delicate inclusions that can be mistaken for cracks,
but these do not affect the integrity of the stone. It is found
in caves in Northern Italy, often underwater. It comes from the
same region as Carrara Marble.
is also a new stone for me this year. It comes from Utah in four-inch
wide strips. Designs are limited, but the beautiful color inspires
Marble is the stone that Michelangelo used for
his greatest creations, like David and the Pieta. I bought my
supply while staying in Pietrasante, from the same quarry in Carrara
where he got his stone. It is only a few kilometers from Artspace
where my daughter Criis and I studied marble carving in 1997.
Lamb , Carrara Marble
is the hardest of the stones I use. It takes about five times
as long to work as soapstone or alabaster, but is much more impervious
to the elements. The beautiful white gives my sculptures a classic