Chisel channeller: how a master stone worker captures a human face

Centuries after the golden age of Renaissance stone carving, today’s artisans are still plying their extraordinary skills, capturing human likenesses while working with the unforgiving medium.

Here we follow contemporary stone carver Anna Rubincam on one of her projects; what unfolds is an extraordinary process that is as precise and exhausting as it is creative.

It takes a long time to train to be a stone carver and it’s not an easy job once you are trained and you’re still learning,” she says. “Once you start carving, there’s no hard and fast rules.”

Rubincam begins her process by measuring and sketching the features of a live model. From there, she creates a clay version, before moving on to carefully chisel the piece out of stone.

“You rely on the fact that you can look and measure and that you have an instinct for this, and that you can look at something and translate it into your hands, and then make the chisel do what you want it to do.”

As for the passion that drives her work, Rubincam acknowledges that she wants her creations to prompt open-ended conversations, to stimulate queries.

“I want people to see that I’ve pushed the material as far as it can possibly go; I, maybe, want people to see themselves in it; I want them, maybe, to wonder about my reasons for carving it,” she explains.

“I want people, maybe, to argue about why I made it the way that I did, and have different ideas of what the reason is, and the purpose.”

View the original video here.

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