There's a reason we don't prototype things out of stone. We use wood, metal or plastic because when you inevitably screw something up, there's a chance you can fix it. Stone isn't exactly forgiving. Which is why I have the ultimate respect for the craftsmanship of stone sculptors, with their patience and the high level of skill required to render form from rock.
I always pictured them tapping away in some atelier with a hammer and chisel, but of course the modern-day stone sculptor has access to power tools. San-Francisco-based Chuck Clanton, whose material of choice is marble and whose work you see pictured here, uses chisels driven by air-powered hammers.
"I have been using the Cuturi air hammer line for 20 years," Clanton writes. "I learned about it from the 70-year-old artisani in Italy who have been sculpting for major studios all their lives. They use Cuturi because they stand up to 40-hour weeks, for decades."
Clanton uses different hammers for roughing and finishing, and fits them with chisels like these:
Generally, I use carbide tipped chisels which can be purchased commercially. However, for finish work, the last two finishing stages are done with chisels made by a blacksmith out of steel. (The retired Italian blacksmith who made my set of steels complained that he has a hard time finding quality steel for chisels anymore.) The carbides are sharpened on a grinder. The steels are sharpened on a stone. (Nothing fancy, a nearby flat rock will do.)
Clanton didn't start off working with marble, nor even as an artist—after medical school he worked for a time as a doctor and he also holds a PhD in psychology. But years ago he was bitten by the sculpture bug and began pursuing it in earnest. He then sculpted clay for ten long years before he worked up the...stones to move into the harder stuff.
Via Cool Tools and Nordic 5 Arts