Sculpting stone joins the material and the spiritual. The materials we will use to shape soapstone and alabaster are files, rasps, saws, and sandpaper. The spiritual arises from the imagination, elbow grease, and wonder that comes from transforming stone into figures, pendants, bowls- whatever the stone holds. While emphasis will be on hand carving, we will touch on mallet/chisel, embellishment, and the traditions from which sculpture arises. All levels more than welcome!
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Robin Keck learned stone carving at Ghost Ranch almost 20 years ago, and has been teaching here since 2005. She is delving into the southwest traditions of stone carving (the meanings of animals, colors, directions
Download and Print Welcome Letter: Keck – Stone Sculpture
Stone Sculpture: Intro to Hand Carving
Instructor: Robin Keck
Start Date: 7/14/19, End Date: 7/20/19
Check-In Begins at 3:00pm at the Welcome Center on 7/14/19. Dinner 5:30 – 6:30; Orientation 6:45 pm
Invitation: Have you ever picked up a rock and wondered what was inside? Or found a stone that looked like…something, and could be more? Have you wandered a sculpture gallery and wished you could carve something? Come learn the art of hand carving with us at Ghost Ranch. Together will choose stone (alabaster, soapstone, wonderstone, limestone), decide which tools to use, and create a work of art from your own vision. Along the process you will meet cool people, learn about stone and its history, and discover a lifelong hobby. It’s not as hard as it looks!
Learning Outcomes: The primary goal of this class is to get hand rasps and rifflers and stone into everyone’s hand and create amazingly beautiful and personal small works of sculpture. A secondary goal is to learn something about different kind of stone, carving tool, the history of the ranch, and each other. A final goal is to instill in the members of this class a love for stone carving, and a desire to take this new art form home and create all year long!
Mornings from 9-noon will be spent in class. Afternoons from approx. 2-4:30 the instructor will be in the studio. Evenings from 7-whenever we cannot see anymore, the studio space will be open.
There very well could be an on-ranch field trip/hike to look at stone, and possibly build an inuksuk. Attendance at all is optional, but addictive.
Instructor Background: If it were not for Ghost Ranch, I would not be a stone carver. If I did not practice the zen of stone caving, I would be a far lesser person. In 1993 I had the great good fortune to be introduced to Ghost Ranch, and stone carving. In 2005 I was blessed to be asked to teach. These days, I get to work with the High School Initiative, the Instructor Reunion, the amazing office and marketing staff, and teach. Come to the ranch and take my class; who knows where it will lead!
Provided Materials: This class will have: A lot of stone; Many tools; Sandpaper; Finishing polish; Photos; Accessories; Water; Chairs; Pencils; Rags; Laughter; Dremel (for finishing only); Cotton gloves; A closing night Art Show.
What to Bring: I try very hard to supply everything, especially for first-time students. There are a few things, over and above what I consider the basics, that you might want to bring. A higher quality pair of gloves (thin leather, or nicer cotton); Photos and pictures – especially if you are coming in hot with a vision; Water bottle (you will hear this a lot); Your own tools, if you are advanced or precocious.
FAQs: Q: Is it hard to learn? A: Well, it’s stone. And, it’s a new skill. But no, carving softer stone is surprisingly easy, and immensely gratifying.
Q: Will I get dirty? A: It’s stone dust. It brushes off. In fact, do that before meals.
Q: When I fall in love with carving, can I buy tools and stone? A: Absolutely. I can sell you the basics (although new students get to keep their tool set) plus extra stone. Then I will give you websites to feed your craving for more.
Q: Can I fit my sculptures in my suitcase? A: Yep. Roll them up in your socks. Or put one in your pocket to fondle on the way home. Do not put your tools in your carry on. The TSA does not understand,
Download PDF of this letter – Keck – Hand Carving
Hey all –
Robin Keck here – I am your stone carving instructor the second week of the Festival of the Arts this summer. I hope you are still planning to join us!
This class concentrates on stone carving by hand – rasps and rifflers will carve relatively small chunks of softer stone (soapstone, wonderstone, alabaster) into whatever you envision. We will then use sandpaper, water and sealer to smooth and finish the carving. And repeat as time allows!
This class is open to all levels, but I will be paying special attention to first time carvers. And, while power tools are not prohibited, they are often segregated. We will also take part of a day to play with mallets and chisels.
I should have all the materials you will need. Some of you may have taken this class before, or carved elsewhere. So…
IF you are bringing your own tools (4-in-hand, coarse-medium-fine rifflers, etc.), please let me know ASAP. Instead of buying and duplicating beginning tools, I will buy various specialty tools for Ghost Ranch to use permanently.
Also, if you do not require beginning tools, you can pick some extra stone poundage. (I need to know about the tools as soon as possible, so please call or email me).
I always have a large selection of stone for you to choose from and later in the week you may purchase extra stone. I will also bring magazines, books, and collages of pictures on carving (southwest as well as Inuit) to spur creativity.
Please Note: This stone carving class meets on the portal behind the Social Center. We will formally meet from 9am –noon, and then, due to lack of lighting, we will meet in the afternoon. This space should also be available in the evenings as well, for those that wish to spend more time carving. We will sit down as a class and figure this out, but I am there more often than not.
Okay, I think I’ve covered most of it. I look forward to meeting you the first evening.
Please feel free to write or call with any questions or comments. At least I’ll know you’re paying attention…
As I noted before, I will be providing all the materials, but here are a few extras that you might want to ponder:
Dust mask – although our space is open to the out of doors, stone carving creates some dust
Leather gloves – I will have cotton gloves for you, but my favorite carving glove is a batting glove
Cushion – we will be using folding chairs and tables. If you want something more comfortable, feel free
Big water bottle – there will be cold water nearby to fill up water bottles
Personal carving tools – if you are not a beginner, bring what you will
Small carrying bag – for your stone, your tools, your accessories
Pictures, photos – start thinking now!