HOW A STONE SCULPTURE IS MADE

CHOOSING THE STONE

Choosing the right stone is the most important thing to have a perfect sculpture. You can either have an idea about what to make before having the stone or the idea gets inspired by the shape and colours of the stone. When choosing a stone, the first thing is it has to fit your plans. You have to check the cracks on the stone, also the texture if it is good for you to work.

SERPENTINE STONES

The stones which can be used for making the sculptures are called Serpentine. Serpentine is an umbrella term for all the stones existing in Zimbabwe. They have different names, colours and different softness or hardness. Zimbabwe by the way means “house of stone” when translated literally. There are many different sorts of Serpentine stones, for example Springstone is hard and black when finished, Opal is soft and green or white, Cobalt is full of mixture of bright colours. Then many more other kinds like Green, Brown, Fruit Serpentine, Leopardstone named after the different beautiful colours they bring out after waxing.

MAKING THE BASE

You have to find the best part for stability which becomes the base. When done you can mark your base (sketching a thin line on the stone) and work on the area with a brick hammer to make it flat and straight. The base is important for stability while working and for the stability of the finished sculpture.

SHAPING THE SCULPTURE USING DIFFERENT TOOLS

We have a variety of tools we use to make a sculpture. All the tools are important and have to be used properly. For shaping the basic forms you use a hammer and sharp point punch. Then start taking off all unwanted parts shaping your sculpture until the right form is out. The way we sculpt is always reducing, never adding. The next tool is the chasing hammer which levels the texture and takes out the roughness. You continue with the chasing hammer until you have reached the desired level. Later you use flat chisels and rasps with different grains to lower the level and make it more even and smooth.

SANDPAPERING, WAXING, SHINING

When completely smooth and in proportion we come to sandpapers. We start from granulation 40 or 60 without water and later from 80-2000 with water.
When perfectly done we come to waxing process. We first heat the stone with fire and apply white wax until the stone has enough wax. We wait until the stone has completely cooled down and take a cloth to shine it. Then a unique sculpture is done. The different tools complement each other to create perfect contrast and shape.

Benjamin Musendami

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