About Carving Stones

Interested Readers:

I was extremely fortunate to be introduced to stone carving by the late, Ethelia Patmagrian at The Ringling School of Art and Design. “Miss Pat” taught us to let the stone “Speak to us”. Stone carving with a chisel and hammer is a lengthy process. One chips and chips AND chips, then rasps, finally sands then polishes. A simple stone can easily take 30 hours of work. Sometimes the stone will surprise us, altering our design. Alabaster is sedimentary gypsm. The stone can have pockets of impurities which can be quite beautiful, sometimes muddy, but which are not apparent until you uncover them. The impurities supply the colors and veins adding interesting patterns which sometimes take focus. Alabaster, softer than marble, can be polished with beautiful results. I taught alabaster carving to novices, many of whom became quite frustrated at first when the going is slow, but then would be thrilled with the results because every stone has hidden beauty and charm which will be revealed by polishing even a simple design is always beatiful.

My carved stones have all 'spoken' and surprised me. I use a hand chisel and mallet, hand rasps then sandpaper, so far. The first time I carved a stone I studied the 'natural shape' then planned a compacted female figure to conform inside that shape. The stone itself was African Wonderstone which is mined in South Africa. My 'female' began to take the form of an African woman who was protecting herself, who developed a facial countenance of profound patience, eyes closed as if she completely lacked power outside of herself but within herself she incubated great strength. I could relate to her and I named the piece "St. Pauls Daughter". I will let you mull over the name.

For a time African wonders tone was unavailable because of the boycott of South Africa during apartheid. It is a glorious stone to carve with very few surprises and even consistent stone. I have used 3 pieces of Wonderstone in the base of Jinniyeh.

As my stones are whittled away, forms begin to emerge to my eye. Once that happens I enhance the shapes as I see them. The result is similar to what happens with the Faces. I work intimately which the form which eventually illustrates my experience. The names I choose are all clues to what these forms represent to me. I consider my stone carving to be expressionistic and abstract with the beauty of the form being more important than the realism of the form. I do not impose form onto the rocks. I let the rocks impose forms onto themselves through me. The result is then personal and universal.

Karle 2/18/19. To respond - Email