Hi everyone, todays post is just some information that I read way too late in the game. It will hopefully help you avoid a mistake that I learned all too late. This post deals with starting out sculpting stone, and the right stone to try first. This is about avoiding soapstone as a medium. I have links to products that I use with stone, just to help pay for my carving and blog posts. Thanks if you decide to help out, and click on an image to make your next Amazon purchase!
I decided to try out sculpting in stone. I had a little knowledge with sculpting soapstone, but not a lot. I had seen it worked in the past, and all that I knew for sure that it was easily formed. So, I assembled some files and rasps, got a chunk of soapstone, and got to work.
It was only when the piece was mostly formed that I came across an interesting article. This article related that the dust formed as you file and sand away soapstone is rather hazardous to even be near. This dust is like talc powder, and is very bad to breathe in. Even with a dust mask, it should be avoided. But that was not the end of the bad news.
Soapstone is not all bad news. Working with soapstone can be rewarding, due to the speed at which it can be filed away. Why in no time at all I had the basic "rough form" done. This fast carve, however, is the problem too. This stone will crack, crumble, and chip off rather easily! Soapstone is not a good stone to start with, what-so-ever! What is even worse, soapstone does not hold detail very well, as it is so "crumbly".
Well, what types of stone are supposed to start our stone sculpting journey with? Soapstone is not very good at all, and marble is so darn hard.
I recommend starting out with Alabaster. Alabaster is a harder stone than soapstone, but not too hard to work with. It is just above soapstone in terms of "speed of working", and alabaster holds detail way better than soapstone does. Alabaster comes in many colors too, and even a semi-clear, or transparant color can be found. I knew that alabaster was a much better choice from the moment that I picked up the first piece of it. It just felt like a better quality of stone.
am not too sure that I will ever finish the soapstone whale that is now just half way finished. I sigh each time that I see it, as I do with each unfinished piece that I have. The fact that brand new cracks often appear in the soapstone does not make me want to finish it. Who knows?
I wish I had known enough to stay away from soapstone when I started out, but I learn the hard way sometimes. I hope that you get to read this before you decide to jump into stone carving, and you get a chunk of alabaster, instead of soapstone.