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  • Steve Hubbard

Work in Progress


This is a new, currently untitled sculpture. It’s carved from the same purple soapstone (or ‘coca-cola soapstone’ as the stone merchant characterised it) as Jagganath.

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I actually started on the block of stone a couple of years ago - with no strong plan, just seeing where it took me - and it took me … nowhere. I stripped off and homogenised the surface with a toothed stone chisel, but I couldn’t really find any inspiring forms within it - so I set it aside for a while.

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I’ve often set blocks of stone aside in the past when they’re not really clicking with me - and eventually inspiration will strike. With this one though; two years on and still not a flicker of an idea for a sculpture. Bold action was required … so I sawed it in half.

Immediately ideas presented themselves - I’ve been working on the first half for a week or so (some pics soon), and this is the second half, started today.


I decided to experiment with my technique on this one. A few years ago, an old stonemason forcefully voiced the opinion that I should be using wood chisels for carving soapstone. I wasn’t very receptive at the time; partly because he was being really patronising, but mainly because I was still in the middle of the learning curve for stone carving chisels. Now very comfortable with using those, I thought it was time to try the wood chisels. On the positive side - it seemed to be quicker, and slightly more precise than stone chisels. On the negative side - it completely mangled the edge of the chisel within forty minutes.


It could be because; this is an unusually hard soapstone; or, my wood carving tools are very cheap and cheerful; or, the wood chisels simply need a more delicate technique to the extremely robust stone chisels.

I have the machine to regrind the chisels, but it’s going to be really annoying if I have to do it every forty minutes.

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