The Craft of Sculpting |
Many people think sculpting is a skill exclusive to very talented artists. In reality, sculpting is a fun and challenging hobby that anyone can enjoy. All that you need is the patience to learn the basics of the art, and the right background knowledge, so you will know exactly how to start.
History of Sculpting
Sculptures have existed way back in prehistoric times. The first people have produced small figurines using stone tools and other carving materials. Archeologists found sophisticated carvings like the Guennol Elam which dates back as early as 3000 BC, and portrait statues of pharaohs in ancient Egypt from before 2,700 BC.
The Classical era produced numerous stone reliefs by well-respected artists like Phidias, who created the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Other famous sculptors include Nicola Pisano, who developed the Proto-Renaissance style in sculpture and produced the beautifully crafted sculptures in the Siena Cathedral in Italy, and Donatello, who sculpted the famous Davids statue in marble in 1408.
Today, sculpting is considered an intricate and well-respected art form. Famous works include beautiful pieces all over the world, including the Mount Rushmore sculpture by Gutzon Borglum and Lincoln Borglum, the colorful K’alyaan Totem Pole at the Sitka National Historical Park, and the modernist Gaston Lachaise exhibited at the National Gallery of Australia.
Kinds of Sculptures
Before taking sculpting as a hobby, it is best to first understand the different kinds of carvings, so you will know which ones best fit your style.
Stone carvings - Stone carving is the earliest known form of sculpting. The process involves removing huge chunks of stones from a single rock then polishing the surface with the use of precise sculpting tools. Hardstone carving is a sub-classification of stone carving, which involves sculpting precious stones like agate, onyx, jade and other rock crystals. Famous stone carvings include Michelangelo’s Pieta and the jade carvings during the Shang Dynasty in China. Bronze casting sculptures - Bronze is a strong but malleable metal, which is ideal for sculpting, especially if the design is a figure in motion. Sculptors usually pour the melted metal into a mold and leave it there to solidify. Plaster and other mixing materials are then used to help set the mold. Casting is often used for designs that are too complex or challenging to do using simple carving tools.
Clay sculptures - Sculptures made of clay are popular because they are cheap and easy to handle, compared to other raw materials used for sculpting. Pottery is the most common form of clay sculpture for both casual hobbyists and serious entrepreneurs.
Wood carvings - Wood is often used to sculpt religious icons displayed in churches and monasteries. Most wood sculptors use whittling to create simple sculptures, and they are experts in choosing the right type of wood based on their intended sculpture. Wood sculpting is also useful in making wood instruments, such as flutes, violins and other bamboo instruments.
Other materials - Less common materials used for sculpting include silver, coral, lapis lazuli and other gems. While they produce beautiful statues, they are less used because the raw materials are often more expensive and harder to come by. Reasons for Sculpting
Many people engage in sculpting for different reasons. Here are the most popular ones:
Religious practice - Many sculptors have produced beautiful works of arts that were used in churches and other religious events. Ancient Greeks have created huge statues of their gods, like Zeus, while Buddhists have made large Buddha statues for their temples. Artistic expression - Many artists use sculptures as a form of expression. While many artists since the Classical era remain unknown, their statues and other work have been recognized and made their mark in the world until now.
Therapy - Some psychologists recommend sculpting as a form of therapy for people suffering from depression and other psychological disorders. They find that sculpting helps relieve stress. It also helps artists become more focused and creative. Tips on Sculpting as a Hobby
In case you decide to start sculpting as a serious hobby, remember these tips:
Prepare a large workspace - Sculpting needs a wide area where you can place your cast and tools. Make sure you have a wide enough space in your backyard, basement or art studio for bigger projects.
Select the right tools and materials - Take your time to find the best tools and materials. Nothing kills the mood worse than your chisel or stone hammer breaking in the middle of a sculpting session.
Use a blueprint - Prepare a reference drawing before starting with the actual sculpting. This map will help you stay on track of your design and avoid unnecessary mistakes during the project.
Look up references - Research on the proper structure of your model. For example, if you are sculpting a dolphin, look at pictures and see the correct curve of the body and the angle of the snout. While you can technically do anything you want with your work, it is always a good thing to have a basis for what you are doing. Finalize the overall form of your piece - Before working on the details, make sure you have the general form of your sculpture in place. Know the right proportions and the correct silhouette. Only then should you start working on the minute details.
Focus on one area at a time – Avoid jumping from one section to another when working on the finer details. Finish an arm first then a foot before moving to another part of the work. This helps your concentration, and you can better appreciate your work once it’s done. Check for symmetry - Try to look for symmetry points in your sculpture, especially when working on portraits. This will help you finish the work faster. Remember that this doesn’t work all the time though, and that sometimes asymmetry is what your sculpture needs. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Sculpting may sound like a tedious process, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes a fun and fulfilling hobby that you can invest your time in.
Submitted byTony's Books. For more information on hobbies see John's Books and Hobbies.
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