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The Shona Art Movement

Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture - the basic sculpture process

The process of creating a sculpture from hard serpentine stone requires not only technical skill but also the artistic talent to create genuine and original art. The sculptors are inspired by the form, colour and texture of the raw stone, and say that they wait patiently for it to speak to them.

When inspiration strikes, they sketch out the rough shape with charcoal...

Sketch on sculpture with charcoal

...and then use a punch to strip away the extraneous rock and reveal the sculpture within...

Rough shaping of sculpture with punch

A chasing hammer with a row of little teeth removes more of the rough texture.

Chasing rough surface of sculpture

Smooth surfaces are created using a grinder (when there's power)...

Grinding a stone sculpture

...or a file when there isn't! A chisel is the tool for the job for any bits that the grinder can't access.

Chiselling a stone sculpture

Fine details are worked with smaller files, punch hammers and other specialised tools.

Rasping a stone sculpture

Once the shaping is complete, the sculpture is washed smooth with wet and dry sandpaper, going from coarse grades through to very fine. This is a long and arduous process that most senior artists delegate to their apprentices!

Washing or sanding a stone sculpture

Polishing is the final touch: first the stone is heated using a paraffin blowtorch or an open fire, then layers of clear wax are applied.

Applying wax to a sculpture

When the stone has cooled, but is not yet cold, the artist buffs up the waxed area with a soft cloth to create the shine and give depth of colour.

Polishing a sculpture in Zimbabwe

Guruve have worked closely with sculptors in Zimbabwe for over a decade and we are experts in the techniques and materials used in Shona sculpture.

These photos and text are copyright (please see statement on our homepage) and is the intellectual property of Guruve Ltd and must not be reproduced without our permission and attribution to www.guruve.com

Related links:
Shona sculpture movement - Zimbabwe's art history
Shona spirit beliefs and how they inspire Zimbabwean sculpture
Types of stone commonly used by the best Zimbabwean artists
Common themes in Zimbabwean sculpture
Life as a sculptor - comments and insight from Zimbabwean artists
Young sculptors at an centre for aspiring sculptors
Care and repair - helpful guidance on looking after your sculpture



Shona sculpture by Zimbabwean artist Joe Mutasa

Title of Sculpture: To See Them Together