31 October, 2009

I had to dig deeper into soapstone carving

Talc Block -wikimedia

My curiosity about soapstone Carving was stirred after meeting artist Ron Ervin Disbrowe. In general, Sculpturing is by no means a modern art form. In fact, the Ancient Egyptians carved images and bowls to put in the tombs of their Pharaohs. Most of these sculptors were made of soapstone. Soapstone is a rock composed mainly of talc. Other minerals and salts are also present in its structure. The rock was such called as it is very slippery (like a soap). Its softness and malleability allows it to be easily carved. Because many minerals leech into such rock, soapstone occurs naturally in many different colors. These properties make soapstone the ideal rock for the art of sculpturing. Read More.

Soapstone Cutter - Flickr User Wwarby

Through reading up on Soapstone carving in Canada, I observed that Soapstone is one of the most popular medium of the Inuit carvers. The sculptures represent the rich cultural heritage of these people, their traditions, beliefs and myths. their striking symbolism, are related directly to both the Inuit’s physical and spiritual world and represent a way of life that has been passed down from one generation to the next. I also found a small video from the BBC documentary, A Boy Among Polar Bears, which shares Inuit ancient traditions including soapstone carving, handed down from generation to generation as a "way of keeping Inuit stories and survival techniques alive." See here!

Here is a simple process I found for carving soapstone:
  • Place some old paper on your work area to contain the excess soapstone dust and shavings.
  • Don't forget safety first. Put on safety goggles and a respiratory mask before you begin to carve to prevent inhaling or ingesting dust.
  • sketch out your design on your stone, using a pencil.
  • Use a small saw to cut unwanted sections from the stone. A hacksaw blade is ideal for this job.
  • Shape your sculpture using rasps and files of different sizes.
  • Apply a wet/dry sand paper to your soapstone. Start with a low grit paper and work up to a higher grit. Remember to Change the water occasionally.
  • Heat your kitchen oven to about 200 degrees F and warm your sculpture for about Ten to 15 minutes.
  • Rub furniture wax into the warmed soapstone. Use a soft cloth, applying more wax to the areas you desire to be the darker than others.
  • Buff to your preferred level of shine.
I also wandered about obtaining a chunk of soapstone. I found this page of Soapstone Sources which could help in that area.

I think I am gonna find myself a chunk of soapstone. Put my carving skills to the test. Well I'm off for now. Bye!! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


  1. How cool is this!! I also want to find a piece of soapstone! Thanks for sharing!!

    Dude! I saw your paintings! You have serious skills! I love it! Especially the snow landscape, white seems such a difficult color to work with, because you can't really see texture. At least that is what I think!

    Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog!! I really appreciate it! take care!

  2. This is very informative. I wonder what chemical properties allows the stone to be so malleable and soft. I think I'll do some research (I'm quite a chemistry freak.) As for the Ancient Egyptians, it seems to me that they had quite a modern society. It's amazing how they used soapstone over 2000 years ago and we still use it today.

    I love your art by the way. Hoping to see a new art piece of yours soon.

  3. Sounds interesting. Unfortunately I have at least 2 dozen other types of projects in line in front of it. *L* Can you carve me out s'more time?

  4. Thanks a lot TJ. Ur art is also awesome! Thanks L & T I will add another painting soon! No problem Lana. There is always time hehe!