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Inuit Stone Sculpture

Updated:2008-09-16 10:49:19

CaribouLayin.jpg

 

Carvings or sculptures constitute around 80% of Inuit art production and are considered the pre-eminent art form in most communities.  Skills are often passed through generations.  The subject matter of Inuit stone sculptures reflects the artists' deep connection to the Arctic and its landscape.  Common themes include Arctic wildlife such as bears, walrus and loons, depictions of Inuit men, women and families in traditional dress and activities, and remarkable transformation pieces representing imaginative creatures from the Inuit shamanistic tradition.  The art is imbued with traditional values and memories of life as it once was while at the same time exhibiting characteristics influenced by the buying market.

Inuit carvers are inspired by shape, texture and color and have an uncanny ability to look at the raw material and visualize the final sculpture.  Consequently, there is no need for preparatory drawings.  This sensitive approach of 'liberating an image inherent in the stone' produces wonderful sculptures that go far beyond the mere representation of subject matter.

Inuit carvers use an assortment of hand and power tools.  Although power tools considerably shorten the time to rough out and shape the stone, they are expensive and hard to obtain.  Some carvers feel they have more control with hand tools.  Because of the dust generated by stone carving, artists usually work outside or in small tents even in subzero temperatures.

The carving process starts by roughly blocking out the form using hammer and chisel.  Many artists, especially those working on harder stone, choose to use power equipment, such as a grinder, to complete this step.

The blocked out form is further refined by using a series of rasps and files of various sizes and shapes.  The sequence is working with tools with the roughest texture to those that are increasingly fine in texture and size.  The goal is to achieve a surface that is continuous and smooth.

The finishing stage involves using fine power tools (Dremel) to further smooth out the surface of the sculpture.  This may be followed by hand sanding using dry sandpaper or wet emery cloth, always working towards finer grit.  Fine detail incisions are made with a knife blade or nail, usually after the carving is finished.  The final step may be application and buffing with beeswax or oil over heated stone to impart greater luster to the finish.

Source:http://images.google.com

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