Mini Stone Bowl





Introduction: Mini Stone Bowl

About: I'm Tiphan Hunter: Illustrator, scifi writer, comic book artist, music maker, philosopher, stone carver, futurist, gamer, mystic. Visit my blog at,

A stone bowl carved from orange alabaster.

Step 1: The Tools

Tools for hand held carving:
1. Face mask
2. Small hammer
3. Leather gloves
4. Small piece of Alabaster Stone (orange alabaster in picture)
5. Needle pick
6. Coarse and fine rasps & files (small to medium in size)
7. Mini (watch) screw drivers (used as chisels)

Step 2: Start Chipping

Start by drawing a circle with a marker on a flat side of the stone, of which will be the opening of the bowl. Then, with your face mask and gloves on, grab the small hammer in one hand, and a sturdy needle pick in the other hand. Begin by gently striking with the pick and hammer at the interior of the drawn circle (be aware that the bowl needs a rim as well- leave about 5mm to 7mm space from the edge of the stone to form a rim). Start chipping away the stone to slowly reveal the cavity of the bowl (see pics). Feather blow by blow, chip by chip, flake away the alabaster to carve out the bowl from the stone. Be careful not to strike so hard that the stone cracks or worse, breaks. Keep coarsely chipping away the bowl of the stone. Do this until the desired depth is reached, just before the bottom of the stone is reached. See pictures for example of how this looks..when done move on to the next step.

Step 3: Forming the Body of the Bowl

Now that the bowl is formed, we will need to shape the body of the bowl from triangular shape to more of an oblong round odd shape.
To do this, grab a coarse/spiked file or rasp. Start by filing the stone vigorously until all sides are to the desired curvature. Work the sides of the stone. Be aware the Alabaster is a soft stone, so not to much pressure on the stone, just enough to warm it and shape it. See pics for example. After this step is done, you should have a coarsely carved mini stone bowl. Move on to the next step.

Step 4: Fine Chisel and Filing

Now that our bowl is carved with the needle pick, we need to smooth it out with a mini flat head chisel. I use mini glasses or watch screw drives for this purpose, they make great mini chisels. To continue, just as with the hammer and needle pick, lightly hammer the mini chisel against the inside and bottom wall of the bowl to flatten and smooth out the ridges created by the pick. You can also use a flat tipped file by vigorously "scrapping" the bottom of the bowl to flatten it out as desired. Use a needle nose file and a medium sizes file to file smooth the inside and outside walls of the bowl as pictured.

After this step, there is just one more step to follow...

Step 5: Oil to the Stone

Now that the mini stone bowl is finished, it will need to be polished as its sure to be quite dusty looking. I use stone polishing oil or just household mineral oil to add glow to my stones. Wash the stone bowl under running water, dry, then grab a cloth. Dip an edge of the cloth to the oil, then work that oil into the stone to reveal its beauty as pictured. See pics for examples of what the final bowl looked like.

Step 6: The Finished Bowl

Once finished, don't forget to add your signature to the bottom of the bowl.

Looking good!



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    23 Discussions

    Inspiring! I came across this while searching for help after damaging a mini stone dish I purchased years ago. I'd be very grateful if you would read on and let me know if you have any ideas.

    I had placed a small sprig of flowers and a bit water in the dish. When the blooms were spent, I emptied the dish and then noticed a crusty residue around the interior above the water left in the dish. So I tried removing it VERY gently with my fingernail. Applying pressure, some of it came off. But it was stubborn, so I tried a bit Dawn dish soap and water, a sponge, then the "no-scratch" side of the sponge, then Goop Off, and so on until (being a royal idiot) I wound up damaging the super smoothly polished interior. (Self-flogging will continue, I assure you.) Any suggestions for restoring the finish? Not one of my better days. : (

    2 replies

    2 years and no answer?
    Cut a finger with of fine grade sandpaper (between 1100 and 1450 fine grade). Put it over your finger, so that it covers the top and underneath, then tape round your finger at the ends of the sandpaper, to hold it in place. Put your finger inside the stone dish, and turn the dish (if round), otherwise just move your finger around the inside. Sand it for about half an hour. Next rinse it and dry it. To add the shine back, when dry (best results when dry) wipe with a scrunched up (I like to scrunch it, but you can fold) kitchen roll with a very small dab of cooking oil (Veggy, Sunflower, Olive are preferable; not a thick, dark one as it will stain). If scratches remain repeat from beginning, you haven't sanded enough!
    If you need images, on what I mean, do ask!

    Thank you!! I had all but given up hope! WilI try!

    what kinds of stone can be worked like this? Also that bowl looks amazing nicely done!

    awesome idea. always loved alabaster. now your wife wants you to get to work on one 24 inches across and 6 inches deep for a table centerpiece! lol

    1 reply

    A meditative process and a special gift, indeed :) Ive never worked with granite before. Experiment with different techniques, find the one that works for you, and post the bowl you make on this thread so i can check out what you've made too. Good luck :)

    That's really beautiful. Could be a wonderful meditation and/or a special gift.

    Cool post man :) I've had a desire to carve myself a stone bowl (for eating/culinary purposes) out of granite for a while now. Have you ever worked with granite before/ do you think your method here would work well with granite? I know it's a very hard stone compared to alabaster

    I have and do use a dremel for harder stone, but carving soft stone by hand is magical. I dont like using the dremel. Always think about safety first and wear your face mask to protect your lungs from toxic dust...the mini bowel is kind of an altar piece (less than 2in wide) so nothing edible will be served from it. Its just for decoration- a coin collector even. Thanks

    Thanks for your input, everyone.

    I've carved alabaster before and your chipping method for hollowing it out must be tedious. I've heard, but not seen/researched, that you can use masonry drill bits in a normal, corded drill (not a hammer drill or you will break your stone) to hollow a bit faster. Just an idea for the future.

    2 replies

    i bought a tool once that was basically a grindstone on a drill bit. it was smaller at the bottom than the top. i wonder if you could use that to grind it away or at least polish the inside. you would have to use water for a soft stone and oil for a larger stone to keep the grindstone cool.

    I do have and use a Dremel for marble and onyx stone. However, I choose to carve by hand at times. Thanks for the idea :)

    This is beautiful! You probably could use a Dremel or similar device instead of carving it out by hand. But when you have a beautiful piece of art part of the pleasure you take in it is appreciating the work that was required to create the piece. I like the handcrafted look too.

    If you ever want to use bowls like this for drinking/eating, you probably don't want to use the oil. Plus the oil will need to be reapplied eventually if the bowl is getting some use, even without food. You can use different grits of sandpaper (wet it first so there isn't a ton of dust in the air) and then some leather or denim with polishing compound to polish it up. Then just wash it well (to remove the polishing compound) and it shouldn't have to be oiled to show the colors. It's a bit more work, but in my opinion results in a more useful piece.

    There are of course some stones that shouldn't be used for food, though.

    1 reply

    like cinnabar (mercury), mother of pearl (bacteria and water toxins) and tigerseye/hawkseye (asbestos). plus a lot of minerals have aluminum or copper in them which can be toxic if you get too much. good post.