However much I like to find my way through the stone while carving, it's not always the most convenient way of working, especially when working a large piece. The advantage of the direct carving method is that your thoughts about the shape are growing along with the shape itself, and that you might work a little more directly. And, such as Bob Ross said: ‘We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents’. Every now and then through a little 'mistake’ you'll be forced to change your mind a bit, and apart from teaching you to be flexible and inventive, it can actually sometimes produce something unexpectedly positive. The disadvantage is that it can be a very time-consuming way of working, especially in complex work. You're constantly trying to find solutions, and in stone that is not easy. Another disadvantage is that any real mistake in stone will be irreparable. When carving a sculpture of 2 metres 30 tall you don't want to end up there.
Hence, already in antiquity, sculptors would make a model out of clay, and took their measurements from that in order to carve out the larger work. But having a a clay model right next to a sculpture that you're carving is just not practical. One shard splitting off wrongly and your clay model is unsusable. So they used to make a casting in plaster, which they used as a model for carving. This led to the point where other sculptors were able to perform the precarving work. This way Auguste Rodin for example had a whole studio full of assistants, who precarved his statues based on his models, after which the master himself put the finishing touches to it (sometimes just his initials).
They used a full-size model and took the measurements with a pointing machine.
Combining the two methods
In this sculpture, I tried to combine the best of both methods by carving a model out of Pir foam in the direct method, which I now use as a model for the large sculpture. And because I work with relatively few points, there always remains a very large part of the shaping process on the final stone sculpture.
The dolomite in which I carve this is a nice stone to work with. I'm carving in it for the first time ever, and noticed that it is not too hard (slightly less hard than Belgian bluestone), but somewhat layered though. It still looks a bit greyish now, but once you have fine sanded it, or wet it, or put it in oil, the greenish colour comes out clearly. When it's finished, it's time to decide for the best treatment to get it soft green, with a few test pieces. If the sculpture would stand outside, it would become greener all by itself, but it's intended for indoors.