Stone Dust Sweat Fun Pride

Sculpting Workshop at Villa La Rogaia in Umbria

It is fairly hot. Even in the shadow under the olive trees I start sweating. The stone on the worktable in front of me doesn´t care though. He has been watching things for an eternity. “In the live of a stone man is only a shooting star that lights up and already has died away.” is chiseled into a stone Wolfgang our sculpting teacher has placed in the big garden.
Last night I arrived at La Rogaia. My husband has booked for me a sculpture workshop in Umbria. Happy Valentine! 
Okay, I loved stones since I can remember. Yet to create something from stone? I really don´t know what made me agree to this. I ´ve never been good at crafts. Well, I ´ve done some pottery. But this here is something different. I feel it though I haven´t really started yet.

After breakfast I went to the field nearby together with the other participants, mostly women, looking for a piece of sandstone. Wolfgang explained us what we have to consider looking for a stone. No cracks not too small not to thin… In a way the stone should speak to us. Oh god, how´s a stone supposed to speak? And finally it shall fit into the car as well.

Some of us have already very clear ideas what their sculpture shall look like. Not me! Wolfgang has been showing us the tools already, explaining how to use them. An iron mallet, a wooden one, pointed chisel, toothed chisel, mordant chisel… lots of exotic names.
Everyone of us received a kit of tools and a worktable. Mine is now standing in the olive orchard. In the big studio it is much cooler but out here the view is fantastic.

Our instructor shows up and asks me whether I have already made up my mind for a certain motive. Last night at the introduction round he had already asked what we would like to make but I was undecided then.Obviously Wolfgang has more confidence concerning our abilities than we ourselves. To anticipate it right now he was right.
The stone in front of me is oval slightly rounded at the edges. Actually I would like to sculpt a face but that seems to difficult. At school I was pretty good at drawing. But that was an eternity ago. If I tell Wolfgang what I want to make he ´ll certainly laugh at me. I tell him though. It costs me an effort but honestly I have no better idea. Wolfgang doesn´t laugh. He thinks about it a minute and answers that we could try. Then he rummages in the depth´of his pockets gets a piece of red chalk and starts a design on the stone. First a cross: The horizontal line from one corner of the eye to the other he explains and a vertical one from the crown of the head to the chin. Than the tip of the nose, it´s root, rim of the hair and yet still vague the contours of the face. Now he shows me how to chisel away the stone starting at the nose and remarks finally that I should try it on my own now.
So here we go, hammer, no mallet he called it, in the right. Chisel In the left. To my big surprise it works. Chips of stone fly away. Minute ones in the beginning but growing bigger as I get more practice. After an hour I make a break. I hit myself on the fingers not even once though I had feared that before. But my arms are aching and I ´m thirsty. Some of the other participants pass by. “Oh, you can already recognize something.” one remarks. “A face. Great!“ Says another one. I am not so convinced but their praise encourages me. Even our teach seems content. I ´m afraid tonight I ´ll have a muschular ache but I don´t care. I realize that an artistic fever slowly is going to grasp me. Come on and work that stone!

The days of the class pass by quickly and yet are slow and calm. Hitting on stones as a kind of meditation. Not so bad. I notice that the unaccustomed physical work in the evenings makes me feel pleasantly tired. Specially after I have drained down the stone dust with some glasses of vino rosso.
At the end of the week a yet not fully completed but mystically smiling face looks at me out of the stone. To me it seems as it had been sleeping in this stone forever and I can hardly believe it was me who brought this smile to the light.