Abstract Sculpture 

Designing and creating an abstract sculpture can be difficult to do but it is also a very satisfying way of shaping stone. It gives you the freedom to create using an expression of ideas at a subconscious level. It is exciting to look at a plain block of stone and visualize the lines and shapes that are possibly hidden within it. But it does take some planning. I will share my process. 

Planning and designing your abstract sculpture

To begin my process there are two ways in which I approach creating an abstract sculpture. I either choose a block of stone that I want to work with and then come up with a design that will fit within the size and shape of that particular piece of the stone or I start with generating some ideas through drawing in a very expressive manner on A3 paper.  I will then look for a block of stone that is roughly the right size and if I cannot find one, I will order the stone that I need from the quarry. 

At the start of the A3 drawing, it may not make any sense.  It will be just a lot of lines and curves because I am trying to generate a range of ideas,  however slowly I start to bring it all together. I often find that music is a great inspiration for this process. This is a very therapeutic process and it is exciting when a really interesting design comes together. But this is just the beginning. I then have to consider how all sides tie together, this is the process of taking my plan from 2D to 3D. My main focus is on the reverse side of the drawing. To achieve this I hold the paper up to a window and draw in the shape plus some of the key features of the design. That gives me a blueprint to arrange the back of the abstract sculpture in a way that it moves flows in conjunction with the front. After considering all sides I will then have the foundation for the composition for the sculpture.

The next step is transferring the design on to the stone. Sometimes I just simply sketch a copy of my drawing on to the stone but there are other times when I want the process to be very exact so in that case, I will use a method of preparing a grid to scale. 

Once the design is on and I am happy with how everything looks, I begin carving the stone. But here's the thing, As I am in the process of carving I am still making decisions on the go about the form and composition. There may be parts of the sculpture where I abandon some of the design, just because I may have been inspired by new ideas that I think are going to be better. So there is a real ebb and flow as I remove pieces of the stone, But in time it begins to reveal itself and as it does, I can make better decisions for the next step.

Through all of this process, I am usually outside with the sun on my back and music playing. I find it very enjoyable to do and it is even better when a piece sells. But that subject is for another day. 

If you are looking to carve your first abstract but you are worried about how to go about it, then don't be.

Just go with it. Free your mind and don't let fear get in the way. No matter how it turns out in the end, move into a different realm of thinking which includes releasing clutter in your mind to allow ideas to come. Have the confidence to visualize and sculpt your work to completion. Don't get me wrong, you may get completely lost at and frustrated at times, even I still do, but the best part is you don't need to conform to traditional styles. This is an abstract and you have the freedom to work in any way you want to. The more you go into this the more you will obtain the effects of light and shadow upon the artwork. The finished piece may not be the same as your original idea, but sometimes making changes halfway through or going off in a completely different direction is a good thing. 

Every time you work on a new piece you will find that the process gets easier.

My final note 

Be brave, and good luck in creating your abstract sculpture.


Wooden Mallet

I recommend using a wooden mallet for carving Oamaru stone.

Chisel Set

Woodworking chisels are perfectly fine for carving with Oamaru stone. 

Masonary Sealer 

This is the best sealer that I could find on Amazon that I would consider to be suitible for Oamaru Stone 

Course Sandpaper

Fine Sandpaper

Scissor Lift Trolly

Shaugns Recommended Stone Carving Tools

Although the tools below are sold through Amazon. They are the same as the stone carving tools that I personally recommend to my students for carving with Oamaru stone.


Poratable Workbench

These benches are height adjustable which makes them perfect for stone carving. I own the Ryobi workbench and love it, but unfortunatlly it is only sold through Amazon's UK store for people that are wanting to buy it online.



Stanley: Surform Shaver

This is a must-have tool for shaping large areas of Oamaru stone


Riffler Files

These are smaller files that are designed for the parts of your sculpture that are difficult to get at. They are also an essential set of tools



Builders Pencils


Crosscut Hand Saw

This type of crosscut  hand saw is my recommendation for cutting Oamaru stone


Keyhole Handsaw

A very handy saw. Mosty used for sawing after a hole after it has been drilled into the stone.