Our first Stone Carving classes have started in our new Outdoor Classroom. There’s something about working with stone that evokes an emotional response. It’s not just the tactile qualities of the stone itself, but how it touches a primordial memory within us. Humans have split, carved and dressed stone from earliest times. The process is a dialogue – students must work with the intrinsic shape of the stone whilst bringing their own imaginative vision to the finished form. Find our more below…
There’s something about working with stone that evokes emotions in everyone who observes it. It’s not just the tactile urge to touch the surface – rough and sharp to begin with, cool, smooth and polished afterwards. More than that, it touches a primordial memory within us.
The act of shaping the very materials of the earth we stand on is elemental to all human societies. Humans have split, carved and dressed stone from earliest times, forming not just tools and utensils, but ritual objects. Rock is the firm foundation on which we live – it grounds us, gives us security and is the very stuff of life. From the formation of our planet and the first sparks of life, minerals have evolved to give us the technology and conveniences of modern life. Even our bodies have minerals at their core in our bones and teeth.
By Class 12, our students have reached a solidity in their physical development that aligns with this quality of stone. Stone carving offers students the opportunity to come to grips with the hardest material. It can be hard work, but cannot be mastered with strength alone.
Students must work with the inherent shape of the stone, whilst bringing their own vision to the sculpted form. It’s a delicate balance, and one that requires both precision and flexible thinking, focus and playfulness, along with the ability to think spatially. Students need to observe and engage with the material, “how can it be carved most easily?”, “how can I enhance the features I like?”. The process is a dialogue between stone and student – revealing the colours, textures, density and luminosity of each individual stone. Capturing the whole form and shaping it rhythmically and expressively is a great challenge appropriate for this age group.
At Cardiff Steiner School our students learn to work with stone, using flat chisels, point chisels, tooth chisels and hammers, to produce beautiful and unique pieces made with their own hands. Each student chooses their stone from a selection sourced by our Hard Crafts Teacher. The stones in the current project are from the Cotswolds. Finishing with filing and wet sanding requires patience and tenacity, but once finished the sense of accomplishment of wholeness is strong. The finished pieces, kept for years, give the students an opportunity to look back on their work and see an embodiment of their own development as young people.
Stone Carving is part of our Hard Crafts curriculum alongside copperworking, woodwork and Blacksmithing. These practical subjects are seen as powerful vehicles for teaching across the curriculum, opening head, hands and hearts to cross-curricular concepts- from the expressive and practical arts to mineralogy chemistry, physics and social sciences.
Arts and Crafts help our students develop a ‘can-do’ attitude. They know how things are made because they make them themselves. They can picture the steps needed to reach their goals. Their motivation is strong and their confidence is high to try new things based on the positive experiences of the past.
“Children who learn while they are young to make practical things by hand in an artistic way, and for the benefit of others as well as for themselves, will not be strangers to life or to other people when they are older. They will be able to form their lives and relationships in a social and artistic way. Out of their hands can come technicians and artists who will know how to solve the problems and tasks set us.”