At the weekend I was surrounded by a lovely group attending one of my stone carving courses. I do enjoy having lots of chipping, chiselling and sculpting around me. Lots of other people's hammers and chisels tapping away, creating. It makes for a very special atmosphere.
I try and get everyone to select their piece of stone, put it on their 'banker' (the name for a stone-carver's workbench), and start work on it as soon as possible on day one. So often, if someone hasn't carved before, there can be a nervousness and hesitation initially, a concern about doing damage or taking off too much stone, and the best thing is just to get underway, make a mark, and get the feel of chisel cutting through the stone.
Very quickly everyone is engrossed, and making sculptural decisions and feeling much more confident.
It is so exciting to see all the work developing, the ideas and intentions for the stone. Everyone has their own way of approaching a sculpture, some working freely allowing a piece to evolve, others are meticulous to every detail and sharply accurate, some abstract and some figurative, it's so intriguing to see the progress.
We start by drawing the design on the stone, then begin to rough out, taking away all the surplus stone. So the group firstly drew the front view of their image, and all the stone outside that line was removed. They then progressed to the side view, and did the same, ditto with the top view. This was the roughing out complete, leaving a rather square, blockish sculpture.
Then to the really fun part, the detailing, fine-tuning, adjusting, perfecting and finishing - and truly seeing the results of all the labour.
I'm amazed how hard everyone works, we have a few aching muscles and some wear and tear, but a lot of smiling proud faces and some beautiful stone carving.