Sculpture Commission, Countryside Museum, Hawes

Dales Countryside Museum Commission – Carving Progress


This page shows the stages of carving my sculpture  –  follow links below for other details about the commission

Sculpture Commission Process      Commission Brief      Design Statement      Grand Opening


Block of stone for carving

Stages of Carving Aurochs

A block is selected at the quarry.

Once I got the block back to the workshop, the first job is to check the stone over – get to know it a little, and take off any loose or fractious material (so good clean, sound stone remains to carve).

Block of stone

Here I have chiselled off loose stone from the front of the block, to prepare a reasonably flat surface to begin carving.

Drawing the image on the stone

A rough sketch of the Aurochs is drawn onto the stone so that I know where to cut the stone away, where I need to adapt the design and how the shape will fit the stone block with the right proportions.  I’m thinking too of rythm and pleasing shapes.

work begins on the block of stone        carving progress

And work begins on carving out the rough shape, beginning with taking material away to define the shape.

drawing on the stone        carving aurochs

As soon as a blocky shape begins to appear, I then redefine by drawing on the stone again.  Very soon, in the flurry of carving, with the dust and taking stone away, the drawn lines disappear  – so I am constantly putting lines back, re-drawing shapes and refining the outline.

And then I just keep chiseling!

carving aurochs stage 2        Carving Aurochs progress 3

Carving Aurochs stage 4        Carving details into Aurochs face

These are exciting times, as the Aurochs is really beginning to ’emerge’ from the stone and take on its own life and personality.  I can feel the power and strength of the animal, imagine many in herds, and early man hunting them.  I want my carving to contain some of all of the history and everything I’ve learned about Aurochs.

It feels time that I worked on the face, more detail in the ears, nostrils, and eyes.

Aurochs head

As the placing of details and refining of them is underway, I begin to want to smooth off and begin the process of creating the finished surface.  This involves a flat chisel, which works over the ridge marks left by the ‘claw’ or ‘scutch’ chisel.  When this is completed I rub the surface smooth with carborundum blocks and carbide paper until a fine finish is achieved.  This stone is a fine-grained sandstone, which enables a tight, even surface.

Aurochs sculpture carving detail

Aurochs carving head detail

The rubbing down, and sanding smooth is a time-consuming and lengthy process.   My finger ends take some punishment and become sore and worn from the abrading.

Aurochs sculpture finishing details

I wanted the Aurochs to be smooth, and in contrast to this, wanted the background to have a texture – so I did a bit of smoothing and when my arms ached too much, switched jobs and put some texture in the background and kept alternating between the two until it was all done.

Aurochs sculpture finishing the surface        Aurochs scupture background texture

Then it was time to take it out of the workshop, hose it down to get rid of all the dust, and give it a sanding down whilst wet and refine all the lines.  The dry dust can hang around in corners and lines, making them look really sharp – until the stone is cleaned off with water, and then all the wiggles and errors show clear and stark.  This is also a long process, and sometimes lines have to be re-carved and shapes re-defined.  The colours, textures, and the grains and tones are all revealed too – the real stone’s own brightness shows clear and bold.  Having the sculpture outside also gives the opportunity of seeing it from a distance and I can walk round it freely, checking it works well from all angles and that the rythm and character are as intended.

Aurochs Sculpture

And the last little job, of loading it onto the trailer and making the journey to Aurochs’ new home at the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes for the Hidden Secrets Sculpture Trail.