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...
...and then use a punch to strip away the extraneous rock and reveal the sculpture within...
A chasing hammer with a row of little teeth removes more of the rough texture.
Smooth surfaces are created using a grinder (when there's power)...
...or a file when there isn't! A chisel is the tool for the job for any bits that the grinder can't access.
Fine details are worked with smaller files, punch hammers and other specialised tools.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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