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Carving marble with traditional tools

Marble carving involves tactile tools like point chisels and tooth chisels to shape and texture the stone. The force and angle of the tool can create different effects. The rasp refines the surface. The artist's connection with the stone can lead to endless creative possibilities. Created by Getty Museum.

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Video transcript

The basic tools are the same as the ancients. It's hard in just getting a list of tools-- how does that translate into a beautiful work of art? Working by hand, everything slows down, and you can think about what you're doing while you're doing it. You start roughing out, taking the bulk of the weight off with a point chisel, which concentrates all the force of your blow at one point and bursts the stone away. Your next step after that, having removed the bulk of the material, is to model your form with the tooth chisel. A tooth chisel is basically a comb, and you use it to chisel to model form, while at the same time remove stone fairly quickly. Something to remember about marble carving, it's very tactile, the way the stone bursts from a point chisel, or the way your tooth chisel just kind of swims through the stone. It's a hard material, but you can jump into a piece of space with these tools. If you cut at a very oblique angle to the stone you can get a finer surface. If you are forcing the tool straight into the stone, you can get quite a different texture. The rasp is just a whole row of fine little teeth, cut into a piece of metal, and you can then just rub or grind this tool into the stone, removing material and really refine a plane. Depending on how you use the tool you can really emphasize certain forms. If you kind of lose your ego, and just flow into the stone through your tools, there's no end of possibilities of what you can do inside that space.