Introduction: How to Carve a Rune Stone to Decorate Your Yard/garden
About a thousand years ago plus or minus five hundred years, rune stones where being carved all over Europe. With a little bit, OK a whole bunch of patience and tenacity you can have one for your garden or a greeting card for a close friend who will really appreciate the gift after they have to move it a couple of times. This is my first "Instructables" so bear with me, here we go
Step 1: Tools
Step 1 Part 1 The tools
The tools pictured here represent approximately one fourth of those in my stone working kit, it’s ironic that out of more then 100 tools the majority of the work will be accomplished with only two, my light sledge and heavy point. In detailed free sculpture all of them might very well be used
Step 2: Minimum Tools
If you want to buy some stone carving tools this is all I recommend at first, a 1 lb or 1/2 kilo hammer and a medium center point chisel, there's lots of sources for both online, I like "Sculpture House" I got my "Baby" sledge on Okinawa a long time ago and I have no idea if you can still get them.
Step 3: Historical Tools
Historical tools for stone carving in Northern Europe were pretty simple so you don't need to spend a lot of money, start out simple and add as you need to, and you can always use more hammers, there's always something that needs hammering.
The top most chisel phots were proveded to me by Sandy Sempel, from the "Frojel Gotlandica" site
Step 4: The Center Point
Step 5: Selecting and Prepping the Stone.
I like slate and flagstone because it ussually has a nice texture, and it's important to be able to lift your stone without a tractor.
Step 6: Finding and Marking Flaws
Step 7: Flaking Off Loose Pieces
Step 2 Part E
Step 2 Part F
Step 8: Learn to Use Either Hand
This is a good time to practice with you off hand, sooner or later you'll get tired and it's the wrong time to practice when a mistake can cost you 100 hours of labor
Step 9: Practice Different Directions
Up or down left or right, more practice less mistakes
Step 12: Cutting Through for Large Stock Removal
Step 14: Vibration
Step 15: Knapping
Step 16: Dressing the Edge
Step 17: Layout
Step 18: The Border
After all flaws which might cause problems are removed or otherwise resolved, I spend an hour or two studying the stone and considering which style and form to use. I decide to use a hybrid late style based on Oepir, which will incorporate facets of the Poetic Edda. The first step is using chalk and my hand as a caliper I draw a line marking the edges and define the boundaries I will work within.
Step 19: The Base Artwork
Step 20: Modifying the Artwork
Step 21: Trading Chalk for Wax
I trade up for wax because chalk can accidentally be removed while wax take an effort, I once had an entire day of work lost because one of our cats decided that the stone looked very comfortable while it was laying flat and slept on it.
Step 22: Painting and Finishing
Paints and colors are a matter of personal choice, I usually limit myself to historical paints that I've made myself just because I'm crazy that way. Stay away from latexs since they'll peel over time. I promise a future Instructable on how to make your own paints (done)
I begin painting the stone, I tested the paints on a scrap that I cut from the parent but for reasons unknown to me the yellow paint did not behave the same on the larger stone, perhaps because it is vertical but this hasn’t posed a problem in the past. The yellow paint is a blend of hand ground yellow ochre from the Sandia Reservation, alabaster and a contemporary yellow to brighten the colors, a portion of the red is a dried animal protein suspended in an oil base, after demonstrating its feasibility I discarded it’s use in favor of a contemporary translucent red which matches the protein base exactly. The green is a contemporary translucent stain which simulates a vegetable stain (artichoke) in oil and the white is a hybrid white incorporating burnt bone, and alabaster in a contemporary white base.
Also checkout my instructable on How to make Viking age Paints https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-your-own-Viking-Age-Paint/
Step 23: Text
My first couple of stones were done in English transposed to Elda Runor (calling it Futhark is like calling the English alphabet Abcdef) later I started using lots and lots of references to translate, one of these days I'll take an Old Norse class.
Minn inn hvassa hjor For him who shall fiercely fight;
letir hu lyngvi I than cowards be,
hann inn aldna jotun When the clash of battle comes;
hess er och sjalfrgerda than the gloomy men
och hins hvassa hjors Shall face what before him lies”
Check out https://www.instructables.com/id/Transcribing-English-to-Rune-Elder-Runor/ for help with doing your own runes
Step 24: Final Finnish (no Pun)
The protective coating, being a hardheaded historical type I finish my stones by rubbing them down with linseed oil but you can use any clear finish, the disadvantage of linseed oil is it can take a while to dry if it's cold or the humidity is high and you can get dust or other stuff imbedded in the surface.
Step 25: Give It Away
Finally remember this, it's just a rock, even if you bought it you probably didn't pay that much for it unless it's alabaster or something. If it breaks while your working it, that's just the way it goes, as you get better you'll learn how to spot problems and fix them or avoid them.
Someone a long time ago told me that when the artist finds his or her medium they know it and they can not be shaken from it. I've worked in iron and steel as a smith and an armorer. If asked at the time I would have told you that iron or steel was my medium but one day on an impulse and inspiration I stopped in a dry river bed and procured two stones. I didn't have the right tools for the job but I plugged away and was pleased with the result, both stones reside outside my front door. One is a short poem to my wife and the other depicts both of our heraldry and names.
The appeal of stone as a media is many layered. I suppose the greatest appeal to me is its permanent nature. We have phrases like "It's written in stone" and "As immovable as stone". They infer permanence and touch on the eternal. Stone also offers numerous options from two dimensional to three dimensional. My predominant interest is in what is referred to as runestones. For eight hundred years the Scandinavians erected monuments on stone which where two dimensional, they usually but not always incorporated runes and or drawings incised in stone
Every stone has its own personality and soul. What we see on the outside is often very different from what is on the inside. Things that we think of as flaws are simply differences within the whole. One ignores that soul and differences at their own peril. Just as with people, you never really understand someone until you can feel what they feel and appreciate those feelings and give them their own value rather then simply seeing them as something counter to your own desires. Stone is like that, if you carve before you understand, your work is most likely doomed. Hidden differences can surface and then the stone chips, splinters, splits or breaks. To carve you must understand, you must converse, you must touch and you must listen. You cannot force a stone to your will. You must feel the stone and value it and only after that may you teach the stone to feel you and value what you have to say or show. If you can do that then as an artisan you will touch on what stone and only stone as a medium can give you, immortality.
The significance of the stone is often missed by those who focus on the art of the stone, while that art can be extraordinary and the endeavor of carving granite is often appreciated as one of great labor it pales beside the stones end effect. That effect is simply the immortal nature of stone. It is a permanence that lives on long after its creator has returned to dust. It touches on the fears that we all have of being forgotten, of not leaving a legacy. How many of us remember the achievements of our great grand parents? How many of us can touch something that an ancestor of ours accomplished a thousand years ago? We touch on the spirit of the stones in our modern culture with grave stones. We are not permitted to see beyond the veil of this life, to know if we shall be sustained by our spirit or a greater power. But we are driven to know some part of us lingers and is of significance. That significance is simply “I am”, and in the face of a huge world where individual significance is lost, it gives comfort to the soul in knowing that we have done something that will last forever. Our oldest ancestors spat ochre or charcoal across their hands and left imprints on stone for us to see, They raised dolmen in England and stacked stones into pyramids in China, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the new world , and they carved rune stones in Scandinavia. They all cry out the same thing, “I am, and I have made something larger and more long lasting then myself”, I lived, I loved, I fought and I died, but I was, and by tying myself to this immortal substance my memory will live forever.