Carving stone is an art form that goes back millenia. The basic techniques haven't changed over time, except for the addition of more modern tools. Even with those new tools available, many stone carvers still prefer the old methods. Stone carving requires not only creativity, just like any art form, but some degree of physical stamina. Carving stone can be challenging and often takes a lot of sweat from the artist during the creative process.
Stone Carving Tools
Stone carving requires a specific, basic set of tools. The primary tools will be chisels. You'll need point chisels for roughing out, tooth chisels for gouging out more stone around the rough shape of your carving, and then flat and Rondel chisels to further refine. These chisels can be purchased at some hardware stores and at specialized stone carving suppliers. You'll also need steel and metal hammers, heavy metal files and safety glasses.
Choosing Your Stone
There are many types of stone you can use for your carvings. Some of these include marble, which has a medium hardness, and granite, which is extremely hard and takes a lot of muscle to shape. Limestone is soft, and alabaster is extremely soft. The type of stone you choose will depend upon the final look you want for your sculpture, since each of these types of stone have differing colors and textures. You can purchase a book on stone carving that will go into detail about the characteristics of stone. It's a good idea to keep one handy if you are going to carve stone regularly.
Working With Your Sculpture
The point chisel is the first in your list of tools. Use it to rough out the shape of your sculpture. The hammer you choose will depend upon the hardness of the stone. Be careful about the weight of your hammer. During the roughing out phase, you want to control the amount of stone you remove.
Switch to a tooth chisel to deepen the shape of your sculpture. The tooth claw is, as the name applies, a chisel with teeth. You can further refine the shape of your sculpture with the tooth claw. There will probably be some bruising of the stone (white spots), but you can remove those later, when you refine with the flat chisel or the Rondel. If you can't remove those spots as you work to finish your sculpture, you can use a file to take the bruising away.
The main thing to remember is to be patient. Stone carving is time consuming. A work of stone art doesn't happen in a day. Sketch out what you want to carve, keep it hanging up in your work area, and chip away at the stone every day, until you have the work of art beneath the surface.