It is great to start with soapstone if you want to study sculpture. Soapstone is a mineral that comprises unrefined talc, which is brittle and soft so you can manipulate it to the shape you visualized. You must master the art of carving soapstone before you try to carve harder rocks like limestone or marble. Soapstone colors are dull and dark, which is usually green or gray. Soapstone has a soapy texture within. Steatite is another name for soapstone. Below are instructions and tips on how to carve using soapstone.
- Gather your sculpting materials. The things that you need in carving a soapstone sculpture are files, water, wood saw, furniture wax, dust mask, sandpaper, pencil, rasps, safety glasses, soft cloth, newspaper, and oven. Buy soapstone blocks from mineral stores or sculpting shops.
- There is no need to utilize powerful tools like sharp metal chisels and heavy hammers because they will mess-up the soapstone. Woodworking tools like mallet, sandpaper, and chisel are sufficient for you to manipulate the soapstone into a wonderful masterpiece.
- Lay down old newspapers on the surface of your working area. It will contain the dust and shavings from the soapstone.
- Wear dust mask and safety glasses before carving. It may not be hazardous compared to granite’s silica, but soapstone’s dust is still dangerous to ingest or inhale.
- Use a pencil and create a simple pattern on your soapstone. You must have basic drawing skills. Try simple designs you if are just a beginner. Conceptualize and draw your ideas on paper before translating it into the soapstone. Browse websites and magazines to give you design ideas that you can carve. You can begin with simple grooves and regular shapes, then create formal patterns once you have mastered the basic. You can buy or download patterns from the Internet, or buy it from art stores.
- Use a medium sized wood saw to cut the unneeded parts from your soapstone. A hacksaw blade or a keyhole is a great tool for cutting the soapstone.
- Apply dry or wet sandpaper to the soapstone. Begin with a 200-grit paper, then work it up to a 600 range grit paper. Change water with each sand paper grade.
- Warm your soapstone sculpture by 10 to 15 minutes using the heat in your kitchen oven. The heat must be 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful to not burn yourself when heating your soapstone for polishing because the heat in the soapstone lingers for a long time even though the oven is just set to warming temperatures.
- Use a soft cloth to wipe furniture wax to your heated soapstone. Put more wax to the soapstone sections that you want to look darker. Any type of household wax can be used to polish your stone art. You can also use vegetable oil as well. Experiment first with small stone artworks to determine what type of wax works best.
- Polish your soapstone sculpture. Buff it until you achieve the shine that you want.
Soapstone is a wonderful rock choice if you are planning to carve a detailed stone artwork. Discipline yourself in this field of art, and eventually you will see yourself carving harder rocks.