To make an exquisite stone carving, material selection is crucial. A skilled woman cannot cook without rice. Only with the necessary materials can the characteristics of carving art be reflected. Different materials require unique carving techniques to match, and stone carvings made from different materials also have different usage ranges, so the selection of materials for making stone carvings is crucial. The stones of Chinese stone carving technology include granite, White Marble, bluish-white stone, talc, colored stone, and pebbles.
Granite is a structural rock formed by the gradual cooling and solidification of lava that rises to the surface of the earth’s crust under certain pressure. Granite belongs to igneous rocks, composed of feldspar, quartz, and mica, with a hard and dense texture. Granite is hard and not easily weathered, making it suitable for making platform foundations, step stones, floors, etc. However, the grain of granite is rough and not suitable for meticulous carving.
White Marble is a kind of white fine-grained marble. Due to its pure white and crystal clear appearance, it is loved by the world and has been applied to stone carving. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, a large number of stone carvings of palace buildings, such as ornamental columns, Shishi, and Xumizuo, were carved with White Marble. The White Marble stones can be divided into four types: water white, dry white, snow white, and bluish-white due to their different textures. The White Marble stone is white and crystal clear, soft, fine in texture, and suitable for carving.
Blue and white stones have a hard texture, delicate texture, and are not easily weathered. They are suitable for palace buildings and stone work with carvings. There are many types of blue and white stones, including bluestone, white stone, Douban green, and mugwort green.
Talc is a common silicate mineral formed by hydrothermal alteration of magnesium-rich minerals. Talc has a glossy texture and smooth tentacles. The morphology of talc is characterized by blocky, flaky, fibrous, or radial shapes, with white and grayish white being the most common colors. Talc has a soft texture and is suitable for carving.
When selecting stone materials, attention should also be paid to common defects in the stones. When selecting stones with uneven textures, stains, red and white lines, stone flaws, and iron, it is important to handle them promptly. It is best not to use stones with cracks or hidden residues. Stone determines the material and basic primitive form of stone carving, and ultimately determines the quality of stone carving works, whether it is the production process of stone carving or the gold and stone skills of stone carving artists.
1. Round carving
Round carving is a form of sculptural art that takes place in three dimensions height, width, and depth, known as three-dimensional carving.
Round carving requires the processing of every surface of the stone, with carving techniques mainly using hollowing-out techniques and fine-chopping axes, ultimately allowing for the appreciation of three-dimensional sculptural art from multiple angles. The general steps of circular carving are:
1) Roughly treat the stone material, first remove the billet and remove any excess parts;
2) Draw the general outline of the round sculpture based on the proportion of the carved image parts designed according to the drawings and other realistic designs;
3) Start making and carving the shape along the contour line with a chisel or other tools;
4) based on the original production, fine lines are drawn, and the stone carving products are cleaned with grinding heads, chopping axes, and flat pieces.
Relief art falls between sculpture and painting and belongs to the sculpture of a semi-solid form. Relief carving is the process of carving on the surface of a stone material to give it a three-dimensional effect and create an image that protrudes from the surface. Relief can be divided into two types: shallow relief and high relief. Shallow relief is a single-level statue, with a relatively simple carving pattern; High relief is a multi-level sculpture, with relatively shallow and complex content, and more use of transparent carving techniques.
Relief is widely used in stone carving for wall decoration of buildings, as well as dragon pillars, drums, and imperial roads in temples.
3. Sinking carving
Sink carving, also known as line carving, has imitated traditional Chinese painting techniques such as freehand brushwork, overlapping, line modeling, and scattered perspective in nearly a thousand years of development. After processing and polishing the stone surface, different lines of thickness, thickness, depth, and depth are carved, and shadows are cleverly used to reflect the three-dimensional sense of the pattern. The products produced by this stone carving technique are mostly used for decorating the exterior walls of buildings and have strong artistic value. Among them, cliff stone carvings, tablets, and couplet inscriptions are the most abundant.
Carving is a very important form of sculpture, also known as hollow carving. Carving often hollows out the parts of the stone that cannot represent the object before carving. This sculpture method evolved from round sculpture. It is very common in stone carving techniques in the south. And the most famous is the carving of stone dragons with beads.
5. Open carving
Transparent carving, also known as transparent carving, preserves the protruding object parts during the carving process, while partially hollowing out the back part, and some parts need to be hollowed out. The layering of transparent carving is strong, and the program needs to be layered and operated repeatedly, so the products of transparent carving are more detailed and refined.