Stone CarvingStone Carving with the senior class always happens in the fall, when the weather is nice, and we can work outdoors. The pleasant ring of chisel on stone echoes throughout the campus, and brings curious visitors to our work under the tent behind Piening Hall. Many people tell me how happy it makes them to hear the sonorous clanging of metal against stone. It inspires some sentiment amongst the faculty.

Sentiment aside, chiseling stone can be hard work. It is sweaty business on warm days, and I pity the teacher who has the seniors after me! The students work in alabaster, which is softer than marble but harder than soapstone. It is a good challenge for vigorous beginners. Each student choses their stone from a random selection that I order from New York. They look at the form of the stone, and work at enhancing the aspects that they like. The process is a dialogue between stone and student. They must work with the inherent shape of the stone, while also bringing their own vision to the piece. It is a tricky dance, and one that requires imagination and flexibility in thinking. The pieces are finished with filing and wet sanding. This aspect of the project requires diligence, patience and tenacity. Some students find it tedious to move through as many as six different grades of sandpaper, but it is a terrific opportunity for what we call in Waldorf education a “will activity.” Once they have finished, the students are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment, and they have something beautiful and unique that they made with their own hands.

Stone Carving