Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Polar Bear Carving - the process

It's been a while since I had the time to carve. I forgot how relaxing it was. My father, whom I never lived with, was a great stone carver. When he passed on a few years back, he wanted me to have all of his equipment. Also included was a crapload of stone. White Alabaster, Pink Alabaster, and various colors of soapstone.

The problem was dust and where the hell was I gonna carve. I first tried it on the deck outside, but the dust was so fine that it took a few days of power washing to get it off the deck afterwards. My wife went away for a weekend with the girls sometime after that, so I took the opportunity to build a seperate room in my studio, make it airtight put a dust control system in and bought a big fan to blow dust out the window (I'm sure the neighbours next door enjoy it). Surprisingly enough my wife, who is a clean freak, was OK with it... as long as there is no dust in the rest of the house, which doesn't happen with the measures I put in place.

Anyways, when I carve, I like to spend hours sitting in there and when I was working full time, it was hard to allow myself to put that much time into it, so I let it slide a bit, taking rare opportunities to get in there and carve.

When I decided to work full time from home this year, i was planning to spend a lot of time carving, but anyone who knows me or actually follows my tweets, knows the reason why I haven't been able to devote much time over the past few months.

So here it is for your perusal.. White Alabaster Polar Bear Stone Carving by @daryltheartist

Step one: Grab humungous slab of white alabaster

Step 2: Cut it down to the size I want to carve

This is the piece that I cut off, approx 4 X 2.5 inches
Step 3: Gather the tools I'll need for the carving
Step 4: Look at the stone and decide what to carve. I look at the shape that I have to work from and also look at the stone to see if anything "pops out" at me. I then draw a quick sketch of what I want.
Step 5: After transfering the drawing onto the stone I grabbed a coping saw and started cutting the areas out that are not part of the carving. This is better than just using a rasp to file out the shape. It is quicker and creates less dust. At this point I would like to say that I did not use any power tools in the making of this carving, nor were any animals harmed. I do use power tools at times but for this carving I wanted to do a total hand made jobbie. Why, well I have no reason other than I wanted to.
Step 6: Using various rasps, I start shaping the bear.

Step 7: After the shape of the bear has been finalized with the rasps I start to sand, starting with 120 grit and working up to 400 grit waterproof sandpaper.

My dad always told me that you have to spend as much time sanding as you do carving if you want to have your carving look amazing.

Step 8: After sanding, washing, sanding, washing and more sanding it was time to polish the stone with what I call buffalo wax. I call it that because there's a pic of a buffalo on the side of the can. My Dad picked it up in Germany a long time ago. I do not even know what it is, only that it works. May be extremely hazardous to me, but what the hell.

Step 9: I create a base out of green soapstone, rasp, sand and polish that also. And voila, here are a few pics of the finished product.

I'll call him Charlie.

Here is a pic of a few other carvings that I have managed to complete. To give you a sense of size, the Rhino is approx 8 inches tall. I have done more, but they always seem to leave home with someone. Thanks for having a look.

You can see more of my work at or you can also follow me on twitter @daryltheartist and I am on facebook also

Time for another beer... yahhh