Marble Carving lessons

Lessons in marble carving in the heart of Florence is what makes the Studio Della Statua unique. Normally, a student interested in learning to carve would have to go to Carrara or Pietrasanta to find instruction, and spend hundred on tools, accommodation, and so on. But for those studying art elsewhere in Florence, it's now possible to learn the craft of carving, without making significant investments in time and expense.

Jason's instruction is focused on the process known as 'pointing' - the millennia-old practice of creating marble statues by transferring reference points from a plaster model directly into a block of stone. It's the 'secret' to figurative marble carving that the general public doesn't seem to be aware of - but it was done in the 19th century, the Renaissance, in Ancient Rome, in Classical Greece, and even in Ancient Egypt. A model in clay, wax or plaster is made as a rough draft, and the form of this model is replicated in stone, by means of any number of simple devices and processes. This technique is what stylistically differentiates Renaissance and Classical work from the Gothic, and 19th century sculpture from Modernist direct carving.

Students can learn two of the most common pointing techniques at the Studio Della Statua - use of the macchinetta a punto, or 'pointing machine', and use of compasses. the macchinetta, developed during the age of the Baroque and perfected, some say, by Antonio Canova in the late 18th century, is a simple and ingenious device for transferring points at a one-to-one scale. Compass technique uses much simpler tools - just several pairs of iron compasses - and is a little more tricky, but allows for much greater versatility in carving. Pointing with compasses allows the sculptor to enlarge or reduce at any scale, and even can be used to point a 'mirror image', or reversed, copy of the model.

But pointing is only half the story. Jason instructs in chisel techniques, both hand carving and machine assisted carving, sawing, splitting and other marble techniques, as well as finishing and polishing. All tools and materials are provided, saving the student from having to invest in a set of tools that they may not often use (a basic set of hand chisels, files, hammer and macchinetta can easily run about 500 euros).

How do the courses work?

Marble lessons at the Studio Della Statua are private, and not taught in a class. There is room only for two carvers working at the same time. And, due to the nature of carving, signing up for carving lessons is a bit of a commitment. A very modest project, such as the carving of a hand or foot cast, may take up to two weeks' effort (six hours a day, five or six days a week). A portrait bust is easily a month's full-time work for the beginner. if a student chooses to work only a few days a week and perhaps on Saturdays, a portrait bust may stretch out to three or four months.

Because of all this, marble courses are priced by the project, rather than by the week or hour. This means that if a student finds it slow going, they are not paying more than a quicker student might. However, due to space constraints, students must commit to a set schedule so that work does not drag on indefinitely. If a student commits to three days a week, they must come in and work three days a week until the work is done. Occasional exceptions can be made, of course, but delinquency or extended absence will result in a fine.

What does it cost?

Project fees vary, but as a general guideline, a small project such as a hand, foot, or simple decorative piece will cost 700 euros.  'Mask' casts (such as Bernini's St. Teresa, or L'inconnue de la Seine) and small scale busts will cost 1000 Euros. Full busts start at 1500 Euros but could be higher, depending on complexity; and small figures will be priced individually. All prices include the necessary marble, use of plaster cast if the student does not bring their own, use of all tools and materials needed, and of course the instruction. All a student needs to provide for is personal safety equipment - ear protection, eye protection, a good dust mask, a hat or cap to keep dust out of hair, and safety gloves. A basic set of personal safety gear should not run more than 40 euros.

Sign me up!

Contact me and we will talk about what you'd like to achieve, and the availability of the studio space in the time you wish to work.