How I carve A Low Relief Marble Sculpture

“How I carve a low relief stone sculpture.”
Low Relief Stone Carving Demonstration 2014
with Artist Rick Clement

The video gives a quick overview of the steps I take when carving a low relief sculpture in marble.

I will be using a hammer, pointed and flat chisel, riffler file and wet or dry sandpaper. For this demonstration I will be carving the figure of an eye on a small marble tile(3” x 6” x .375”). I will also be using a small wooden jig to hold the tile in place while I carve. A charcoal pencil with a straight edge will be used to make some light markings on the stone. Sketches will also be used for reference. The only other equipment will be a dust mask, safety goggles and rubber gloves.

Preparing for Carving
Before carving I like to make sketches and study my subject which will be the figure of an eye in this work. I already have a number of sketches that I can use as a references but I will also spend some time studying the eyes of the people that I see throughout the day. The better you know the subject the more information you will have to make decisions while carving. Although I will make a light sketch of the subject on the stone before I begin carving, I know that the sketch will be quickly carved away as I work. For that reason I like to have drawings around for references. I would like to point out that there are other methods for preparing to carve such as making a clay or plaster model. You may even feel comfortable enough with your subject to begin carving without any drawings or models for reference. My preference is to sketch as a way of learning while also studying the subject.
Once I have lightly drawn my subject on the stone, I am ready to begin carving with the pointed chisel. I like to carve the pattern from my sketch lightly on the stone as the first step. You do not need to do this however it helps me get comfortable with the stone. I do this very lightly since I do not want this line to interfere with the actual forms of the stone that will later be developed. Its just a wy of getting warmed up.
At this time or just before I begin to carve it is a good idea to start thinking about where the high points and low points are going to be in the carving. Since I am carving the figure of an eye I will be thinking about where the top of the sphere is as the high point and inside the corner sockets of the eye as the low points. I will also measure out a quarter inch frame around the edge of the marble tile and the corners inside the frame will also be low points.

There are many techniques from drawing that can be utilized while working on a low relief stone carving both in the process of carving and the presentation of the subject. Most of the tricks that an artist will use while drawing can also be applied to a low relief sculpture. I will be using a technique very similar to cross hatching in drawing to slowly carve the stone down and shape the forms. Using the pointed chisel I will slowly build depth in the stone while following the contours of the subject and cross hatching the stone down. Although there are many ways of carving the stone down this is the method I prefer because it works very well for creating an illusion of deeper forms on a thin slab of stone.
Once I have the forms roughly carved out with the pointed chisel I will then start working with the flat chisel to smooth out and refine the forms. The next step is sanding the stone with wet or dry sandpaper