Monday, 5 May 2014

Have you ever tried soapstone carving?

Well, who'd have thought it... one week later and here I am blogging again. (I think I might have to lie down from the shock! lol)

I hope everyone has enjoyed the Bank Holiday weekend (at least here in the UK)...we've certainly had some extraordinarily lovely weather for it (blue skies and sunshine with no rain, hail, storms or hurricanes - makes a nice change don't you think).

I suppose with all this sun most folks have been busy outside in their gardens but I bet none of you have been soapstone carving! This is a new craft to me and I've been pleasantly surprised by how much fun it is...and how therapeutic, almost meditative, it is too. And what's even better is that you can do it anywhere, even outside in the garden on a sunny day - what could be better! (I definitely can't do my Efcolor enamelling outside if there's even a hint of a draft because otherwise I end up getting powder everywhere other than on the blank!) 

So I thought I'd share with you my 'experiments in soapstone'...

This was my first attempt which was supposed to be one pendant but unfortunately it broke so it has now become two pendants - two for the price of one as it were. So, first lesson learned... don't try and carve soapstone too thin as, being a soft stone, it will easily break.

My second project was this simple butterfly using one of Efco's pre-drilled pieces of soapstone as a starting point. (It started life as a bee but ended up a butterfly...isn't nature amazing!)

Then I planned to make a shaped soapstone piece which I could combine with some of Efco's coloured wires for a pendant but I ended up loving the super smooth texture of it so much that I've decided that it's a gratitude stone instead. I just can't stop picking it up and handling it so it makes the perfect reminder to be grateful for all the crafting opportunities my job offers me. :)

Next I decided to see if I could do a relief carving on an Efco Soapstone Tea Light Holder... I think my elephant's trunk is a little too long and again I tried to go for a little too much detail and ended up chopping off the poor little thing's tusk (at least the poachers won't get him) but other than that I'm quite pleased with how he turned out.

Being a keen rubber stamper I thought I'd have a go at creating a Chinese seal which I hope I can use as a kind of stamp...I haven't tested it out yet, but here's hoping it works. (By the way the Chinese calligraphy is supposed to say Peace...not being fluent in Chinese I can only hope Google's got it right!)

Next I decided to have a go at some of Efco's pre-cut roughly shaped soapstone hearts as, having got a bit of a feel for the carving aspect, I thought I should tackle a 'How-to' project sheet for anyone else who fancies having a go. The first one I decided to leave just as it was because the stone has flecks in it making it rather beautiful in it's own right. The second one I thought I'd make as a memento for friends that are expecting their first baby. (Violet was due yesterday but, as with many first babes, appears to be somewhat reluctant to make her debut... hence why there's no date on it as yet.)

Having gained a lot of confidence I then decided to tackle something a little more intricate...again it evolved as I worked. To be honest I wasn't exactly sure what it was going to be initially but as I did the rough carving the flower and leaves announced themselves and with some more detailed filing they blossomed. I think this is probably as fine as you can get with soapstone as any finer and bits will start to crack and break off.

This is my next owl. I so loved creating my needle-felted owls that I thought it would be rather nice to add to them with a soapstone owl. Fortunately Efco do a roughly carved owl soapstone piece to get you started so I feel I'm half way there without even taking a rasp, chisel or diamond file to it! With this great start I'm sure I can't go's hoping anyway.

If these have got you at all curious about soapstone carving then check out Ideal World's Create and Craft channel next Saturday (10th May 2014) at 3pm as I will be demonstrating all the simple techniques to create unique soapstone carvings and jewellery elements. You never know, I may even have a date carved into Violet's soapstone heart by then. ;)

Hope to 'see' you there!

I've just heard that the show has had to be postponed until Monday 26th May 2014 at 2pm due to a technical hitch... sorry! (Frustrating as I was looking forward to it, but then again, more time to play with soapstone :) so not all bad!)

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