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Stone carving: the tools

Sculpture is an art form that has existed since ancient times, whether on wood or stone. Already in the Paleolithic, Man had the idea of using flint, a stone that can produce fire but is very sharp, on more fragile stone to make his own survival tools. He also used it for more aesthetic and decorative purposes. Today, sculpture is constantly evolving and one of the determining factors for its success is to equip yourself with good quality tools. The use of the latter will also largely depend on the type of sculpture that will be made. There are two kinds of feasible sculptures: direct-cut or "panorama" sculpture and abrasion sculpture. The work tools corresponding to these modes of sculpture are different in shape, size and function. Especially for direct-cut sculpture, the necessary tools are the pick, the masses and the massettes, the gradine, the boucharde, the disc machine, the tip, the chisel as well as the blade. For abrasion, abrasive powders, files and graters as well as polishing and glossing are required. We must also not forget the protective tools, such as special glasses to protect the eyes from small stone projectiles, or a special mask to preserve the respiratory tract from minute dusty particles of stone. The hair will also not be neglected, as will the ears that will suffer from excess sound during the operation. All the necessary tools must be present in order to obtain a result of optimal quality. If we enter into the definition of tools, the pick is for example a kind of hammer, pointed on both sides. It is designed to perform structural works as a fairly consistent ablation of stone. The masses and massettes are identical to hammers and are inseparable from the spikes, scissors and steps. The latter resemble very rigid stems, the tip of which is provided with a flat crenellated section. The gradine can have the shape of a "flat-toothed gradine", similar to a chisel or a "pointed-toothed gradine". It is ideal for fairly precise extractions. The boucharde is a tool similar to a mass, except that it has small spikes at the level of the two surfaces in contact with the stone. It is used in the flattening and leveling of the stone surface. Regarding the disc machine, it is a machine designed for cutting. It must be used with skill, as this equipment is particularly dangerous and very noisy. It is rarely used in sculpture but is essential for a perfect result. As for the tip, as its name suggests, it is a pointed stem of octagonal section of about twenty centimeters, designed to hammer and prick the stone. The chisel we are talking about here is not the same everyday chisel, it is a flat-tipped rod that has a straight and uniform edge. It serves to perfect the action made by the gradine. The blade forms a special knife that is used to work with softer stones. For abrasive carving, which is more delicate than that of direct cutting, the tools are less bulky but just as important, such as files and graters. These materials contribute to the realization of the "effects of materials" on fairly soft stones, ideal for this kind of sculpture. As their name already mentions, abrasive powders are powders to rub on the stone to achieve a "polished" effect. They play a very important role in the proper presentation of sculptures. For polishing and glossing, today there are multiple chemical compositions to have the desired result. Oxalic acid and its derivatives, tin pot pot deemed dangerous or encaustic, are among others unanimously used to have a bright shine. Also, for the sculpture to be of impeccable quality, it would be preferable to have at its disposal the necessary and adequate tools. All this to imitate the concept of a talented sculptor of the seventeenth century, Michelangelo, who said: "In sculpture, the image is already present in the initial block of rough stone, it is enough only to remove well what exceeds".