In this instructable, I will be show you how to carve, by hand and without power tools, the Egyptian Goddess Isis from a block of Ice alabaster stone.
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Step 1: Before We Begin
Before we begin to carve, ready your work station with stone carving tools such as a jeweler's hammer and mini chisels (small screw drivers used for glasses repair or electronics repair work great as mini chisels), small Italian rasps and various size files, leather gloves (to withstand teeth rubs from a file/rasp), and a face mask (do not breathe in dust from carving stone).
Choose a sizable piece of alabaster stone. You may have to reshape the alabaster stone that you choose to one suitable for carving an upright sitting statue (see the before and after images above). Carving by hand takes elbow grease, but it makes for a good hand and arm work out. I had to carve my stone from its natural organic shape on the left, to the finished block on the right. I cut it down to size by hand using a circular file and a flat file. It will take a while. with continuous work, and patience, you will have the block of stone you need to work with. The final rectangular size is approx. 5in tall x 2in wide.
Step 2: Sketch and File to Cut
Now that we have the block of stone ready, draw a sketch of the desired statue's shape and pose on one side of the stone. There is no need to draw the other side of the statue as the process we will use does not require it. one side drawn will do. Before I drew the image on the stone, I traced the shape of the stone on paper, and drew a few sketches of the statues as I would have it appear on the stone. You may want to use a reference image of the Egyptian Goddess herself to help you create the image on paper, to later be drawn onto the stone.
After the image is drawn onto the stone and with a circular file like the one pictured above, begin to file away the chunk of stone that is the negative space of the statue. See images above for the complete process.
Step 3: File Guiding Lines Onto the Shape
Now that we have the bulk shape free from its negative, we can begin to draw guiding lines on the stone that will help us form the two sides of the statue as symmetrical. Using the drawing on one side of the statue and using the circular file, draw straight across one side of the stone to the other starting from the top of the head (her seat crown), next the shoulders and chest, the bottom of the elbows, the bottom of the buttocks and tops of the heels of the feet, the bottom of the toes and the top of the base she is sitting atop. Form guiding lines for the front of the statue as well, taking care to notice in your mind's eye where the hands and arms will rest above the knees. Make guide lines from the bottom of the hands, and the top and bottom of the knee. Examine the images above for exact detail on how this is done. The statue may be thicker than necessary at this point. Don't worry, we will take care of this in the next step.
Step 4: Using the File
Now that we have guide lines filed to the stone, we know exactly where her right and left shoulders are to align, where her hands will rest on her lap, the position of the right and left side of her face and head with crown, where the bottoms of her feet are on both sides, and the base she rests on. Using the file, make more pronounced the throne crown above her head (this is her name in the form of an image- Isis with thrown above her head). Using the file still and letting the drawing and file lines as your guide, make more pronounced (by filing away the excess) her shape. Follow closely your drawing. File carve her shape into existence...
Now to take care of the unnecessary thickness of the stone: lay the stone flat on the side of the drawing. The side without the drawing is face up. Holding the statue in the hand this way may also be done. See the images above for detail. Using a bigger flat file, file away the excess of stone to your desired thickness. My statue is approx. 1/1/2in thick, and a little under 5in tall.
Step 5: Her Shape Is More Refined
Starting from the top of her throne crown, and working on both sides of the shape, make more narrow the seat crown as shown in the images above. On the side of the statue without the drawing, while using the guide lines, file down the stone above her shoulders to form her head and hair above the shoulders. Keep your sketches and reference images around to help guide you during this process. Shape her arms from her shoulders and hips as the images above suggest. Start to form the curvature of her hips, and her legs that are underneath her as she sits. Start making carve lines for her feet. Turn the statue around to the back and begin to make the back side of her more refined: make carve lines for the bottom of her hair line, her lower back, the bottom of the buttocks and heels of the feet- separate by filing her feet from the base platform. Turn the statue to her front. begin to refine the shapes of her arms from her neck and shoulders, refine the shape of her head and under the jaw bone. Refine the shape of her arms and her hands by file drawing where they should be and filing away excess, relief carving styling, to reveal her right and left arms and hands. Before doing the same to the other side of the statue that contains the drawing, make sure the same carved lines exist as the drawn lines. As we being to file and refine the shape of the drawn side, the drawing will fade away and you will have to refer to the carved line side for guiding line detail.
Step 6: The Bulk Symmetrical Shape
Continuing to work with all sides of the statue, you should have a creation similar to the one shown in the above images. By now, we can see, in all angles, where her head, neck, and breasts are, the location of her two shoulders and arms and hand shapes that rest above her knee; from the back, the bottom of her hair line, her lower back and buttocks, her hips, thighs, the backs of her shoulders and arms, elbows, her bent legs underneath her, her upturned feet below her, and the base of which she sits.
Continue rounding out and refining the shape, making it more pronounced by filing away excess to create a more 3 dimensional human form. Next we will work on forming her face from the block shape that is her head.
Step 7: Starting to Form Her Face
Before beginning to carve her face, examine the bulk shape of the head and carefully project, with your mind's eye, where the features of her face will fall. I started by drawing a line for the mouth and bottom of the nose. Then, I formed her left and right ear and scalp and hair line as these feature drawn first help me map more easily where her other facial features will align (the bottom of the ears is approx. at the same level as the bottom of the nose, etc.). Roughly carve out sockets for her eyes, and roughly file her cheek bones and jaw bone from the neck. work with both sides of the statue, front and back as you go.
Step 8: Next...
After carving the face for a bit, take a break from it. We will go back to the face in the next step. Let the overall form of the statue sink into your mind, mediate on it, examine it, and carve all sides of the statue at the same percentages. Leave no side untouched. Now, take a moment to make the hand shapes more separate and individual. Examine each photograph for detail. Continue to shape her arms, shoulders, chest (take note of where the bottom of her hair falls just above the breasts, separated by her neck), backside, hair, throne crown, feet, legs, hips, thighs, and knees.
Step 9: Face It
Now, that we have taken a break from the face, we can go back to it. By way of relief carving, file the cheek bones down a bit to reveal the structure of the nose, and round out the rough shape of the mouth. Outline the rough shape of the eyes and eye brow ridge. Figuratively push the hair away from the ears. Use your 3D sculpting skills to materialize out of stone the features of her face...
Continue to work with the face as we continue onto the next step.
Step 10: Her Eyes
Continuing with the facial features, use a needle shaped file to drill out her pupils (this creates a dramatic shadow and light effect, and gives the statue the sense of looking- look into her eyes in the photos above).
From the rough shape of the lips and the nose, carve away excess to form the refined shapes we see above. Shape her ears away from her hair, refine the neck away from the hair that rests on her shoulders and chest. Continue to carve and refine the rest of the statue as well. Leave no feature untouched, especially her feet, lower back, hands and knees. Separate her arms from her abdomen and chest.
Step 11: Take a Look, Then Carve More
Stand back and take a look at the overall shape again, from the back to the front, right and left sides. Refine any side that you feel needs more attention and detail. The statue can be as detailed as you want it to be. Generally, the more time you spend on carving your statue, the more refined and precise the detail will get.
Step 12: Just About Done
Finalize her overall shape: feet and lower back, elbows, hands and knees, shoulders, hair (by adding hair lines), and head with throne crown, round out the front of the base to follow the shape of her knees. Try standing her upright on her own. If she needs more balancing, use a flat file on the bottom of her base to create a more stable platform to where she can stand on her own without tipping in any direction. Examine the images above for detail.
Step 13: Done
After all the refining that we can handle before our backs and arms give out, we have a finished Egyptian Goddess Isis statue with throne atop her head. You can leave the statue as is, or, as an option, dust the statue with brown earth and brush the excess away to achieve the result in the image above.
My statue is placed in a homemade altar make just for Isis.
I hope you've enjoyed this instructable.
Whoever you are, where ever you are,