Honing and Kibbling


Kibbled and honed stone

Once I’ve carved my sculpture the surface can be ‘dressed’ to give textures and finishes, and there are many different surfaces I can create.  Any finish given will alter the percieved colour of a stone, so I think about this when deciding.  You can see the difference in the little samples above, they’re both the same stone, the one on the right is ‘Honed’ and the other is ‘Kibbled’.

A lot of the harder stones, marbles and serpentines take a high polish which is achieved by grinding the carved face with successively finer grades of abrasive and then buffing with waxes if necessary.  A simple, smooth surface is sometimes known as ‘honed’,  and this works well with finely grained stones, the honed finish is a buffed or fine-rubbed surface, and stops short of a full polish.  Depending on the stone a slight sheen, or satin finish results which enhances the stone colour and figuration.

In contrast stone can be worked in a number of ways to create a more textured appearance – as in the Kibbled stone above.  This is done with a kibble (a kind of pick) and the stone is repeatedly hammered, creating a roughness which is slightly pocked.  If you work hard and savage with your kibbling, a deeply marked and irregular skin covers your sculpture!

I’ve drawn one or two finishes that can also be chiseled, and these are methods of dressing stonework that a stone mason might be familiar with, but all can be used for finishing, giving an interestingly textured appearance to a carving.

tooled stone surfaces


a.  Herringbone

b.  Slew Axing

c.  Straight Axing

d.  Scutching

e.  Tooling (or Batting)

f.  Ashlar (smooth, straight cut stone)

g.  Scrabbling or Picking

h.  Natural rock face (this can also be a riven or natural cleft finish)


My tendency is to finish my sculpture with a smooth, or polished surface and it is easy to continue doing something that you know works, and that you like the look of – so I’ve decided to try out and experiment with some of these tooling styles, or part texture pieces for an exciting rough/smooth, course/fine contrast.

There is an animal sculpture I carved, and part kibbled at the base, to give the idea of soft, crumbly soil, from which Mole was emerging.




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