As every year during the Easter Holidays I traveled to Germany to take part in another two-week proficiency stone sculpting workshop at the European Academy for Fine Arts in Trier, Germany. www.eka-trier.de.
My objective for this year’s project:
To create a sculpture using an ash-colored marble quarried on the Greek island of Crete. This type of marble called „Agios Kyrillos“ is known for its rather unusual mineral structure, i.e. sharply pronounced parallel layers in different shades of dark gray.
Another characteristic is a strong sulfurous smell that appears during the sculpting process.
As it is required in the classic way of stone sculpting I had created a small plaster model of the future sculpture in my studio in Portugal.
Then I had ordered the marble block in the desired size of 55x38x30 cm, with a weight of 135 kg. It had been shipped to the Art Academy some days before the beginning of the course.
So, here we go on our first day..
Master sculptor Peter Ruebsam and the author in full action
Marble sculpting is very hard physical work and nowadays mainly realized with the help of power-assisted tools.
Note: When sculpting marble it is essential to use special types of chisels, manufactured out of a steel alloy of an extreme hardness.
The first step, though, is done entirely by hand:
Using a specially shaped flat-edged heavy chisel and a short-handled heavy hammer, large chunks of the material are chipped off. This process has to be executed in a carefully controlled way and gives the stone its first rough shape.
The next step:
With the help of a machine-driven diamond-covered disk parallel arranged cuts are applied into the stone. The material between the cuts is then chipped off by hand with a large pointed chisel.
Then the very long process of the actual sculpting begins:
Using a compressed air-assisted tooth-edged chisel the rough surface of the marble is flattened and at the same time slowly brought into the desired shape.
This is a very dusty and work-intensive job since you have to use your whole body to apply force, always in harmony with the shape of the sculpture…
This years’ Easter sculpting workshop at the EKA did not only feature courses in stone and wood sculpting as it had been the case in the past years, but also offered the possibility to achieve further knowledge in the following classic sculpting fields:
- Modeling of a life-size head in clay (with presence of the model)
- Construction of the mould for the casting process
- Plaster casting and fine-shaping of the head
- Realization of a life-size human body, using steel rods, plaster + wood-shavings
Our creative group of 11 students kept Master Peter Ruebsam from Duesseldorf/Germany www.peter.ruebsam.de quite busy.
But, as always, with his life-long experience as sculptor and professor and his great calm ways of dealing with so many different manual and artistic activities, Peter again made this workshop a special event for all of us.
Stone sculpting is normally done in open air studios due to the large amount of dust and dirt that occurs during the working process.
For those students who do not bring their own stone, the Art Academy provides a choice of large sandstone blocks of various sizes from the Mosel region.
In some cases the chosen sandstone block has to be split in half to achieve the desired dimension for the future sculpture.
This splitting process requires plenty of knowledge about both the mineral characteristic of the stone as well as the technical procedure.
At the same time, plenty of action is going on in the studio for wood sculpting:
And even more action is going on in the studio for clay modeling and plaster casting:
Our sculpting workshop had come to its end.
During these great two weeks of very hard work, both physically and mentally, we all gave everything to create one more “Fruit of our Passion”.
And as always after class, but especially on our very last evening, we all enjoyed a good bit of “La Vie Bohème”…
The morning of departure:
My “Drop of Stone” is ready to be packed and shipped to my studio in Portugal.
There, plenty of work still has to be done, i.e all the fine-sanding and polishing by hand to bring this beautiful piece of “Agios Kyrillos” marble to its real shine.
I will keep you posted, so, have a look again soon…