SCULPTURE TECHNIQUES

The job of a sculpture is very complex and it requires a lot of preparation and decision not only physical.

The first step concerns the choice of the block that cannot be left to others, you go to the quarry and once identified what best fits our expectations, first is to make it wet, to clean it from dust and hardened mud, this is vital for the emergence of the so-called “hair of the stone” which is thin fractures (such as to look like hairs) that may be on the surface of the block.

Once identified, the interested parties should be removed with the Scapezzatore (particular chisel with a thick and large cut). If the block free of the already removed parties, it`s still good for us, we must “make it sound”, striking it with a big hammer. If the sound will not be dull , the block is ready to be carved. Once you draw the first guidelines on the stone, we proceed with the roughing, that is the removal of the more or less coarse parties we`re sure not necessary.

Today this phase is quite fast regardless of the hardness of the stone thanks to the invention of the diamond disks. One time, however, we were close to the volumes of the work, with the aid of pointed chisel and with a strong physical effort. Basically, from antiquity to the present, the chisels used in carving have not changed much; rather what has changed is the metal. The first were made of bronze and copper, very ineffective on hard stones, so often used at right angles to the block producing ”orange peel” areas with deep or shallow holes. Subsequently with the discover of iron, the possibilities of production increased.

Today we produce many kinds of tools with excellent metal alloys, with the final part in Vidia: very hard alloy able to attack even very hard stones. The three main models are mentioned in order of use according to the traditional procedure.

  • TIP: (today often confused with the beam) it can be used at right angles to produce a rough surface eroding the little stone. Producing instead an angle of 45 degrees we can be more effective. With this tool Michelangelo was deeply reviewed; he didn`t consider it only a tool outline you, in fact he practiced often more or less deep furrows that run parallel to each other and that characterize especially the period of “unfinished”.
  • GRADINE: chisel more or less wide with a number of sharp or flat teeth. This tool is used to better define the volumes still very raw. It cleans signs of subbia leaving behind a trail of more or less parallel lines for as many as the teeth. With the gradine you can begin to define in a clearer way the edges of the volumes. It was the tool par excellence of Michelangelo who used it as a pencil, producing a game of light and shadow given by the use of cross chisel. The result was a series of “clarifying lines” that favoured the maximum understanding of the volumes, but above all it ensured the infusion of the breath of life to his “unfinished” figures.
  • SMOOTH CHISEL: in antiquity it was also used during roughing, favouring the removal of more material with less effort. In a more academic use it could be used to erase the lines of the gradine whenever we need to get a smooth surface. It can also be used to achieve even greater sharpness of the edges.
  • BOCCIARDA: in ancient times it was a hammer flat on both sides where triangular prisms were lined up. Today in modern variant, it is a chisel with the end cap that houses the same prisms.
    The use allows to have a “orange peel” surface, much more uniform than the one obtained with the tip used at right angles. Today, thanks to technology, there are many variations of these tools; you can have flat chisels, with round corners, sharp edges, a single or double cut and so on. Proceeding in the creation of our sculptures, we have reached the point where they must “pull the land”; with the help of rasps and files it will be used to make the surface of the stone smooth and homogeneous.

Doing so, we will prepare the sculpture, now in an advance state , to the eventual polishing and shining( in the case of marble or hard stone). Such procedures in the past required a great mechanical job because practiced with the use of sand frigates along surfaces of the stone.

But today there are abrasive papers of various grains to be divided into two categories: dry, used as a first step, water (if a number of harmless chemical powders that, through friction, ”crystallize” the marble surface.

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