Stone carving – a taster day with Simon Keeley

Ref: S1D33129

Location: West Dean
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About this course

Inspired by a natural object, explore sculptural carving in soft, easily-shaped Maltese limestone.

Course Description

This day offers an introduction to stone carving using natural forms for inspiration.

You will be working on small blocks of Maltese limestone. It is a very soft stone and relatively easy to shape with rifflers, files and chisels, so the results will be quick to see. It can also be sawn, and a variety of shapes and textures can be produced very easily.

Maltese limestone is good for producing a pleasing sculptural shape in one day, and you will be given guidance in the use of all tools and techniques. Relevant and interesting books will also be available for information and inspiration.

This course is held in the purpose-built carving studio in the Sculpture Courtyard, which is open-fronted, allowing excellent ventilation for this dusty activity.

You will have an enjoyable and fulfilling day, in purpose-built surroundings and with a tutor that will inspire you.

This course is a good precursor to the tutor’s introductory weekend course, which follows this course.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

Course Materials


  • The college will supply some of the materials including:
  • Limestone and wet and dry paper
  • Protective equipment supplied for your use: dust masks, safety spectacles, respirator face shield, ear defenders

What students need to bring

  • Please bring a design for a relief carving,10-20mm deep (i.e. not three-dimensional or in the round), so that you are ready to mark-up on the stone at the start of the course. The design can be of a natural form or based on an ancient design (e.g. Celtic knot) and should be drawn within the size of the stone provided, which is 7 inches x 7 inches.
  • Sketchbook/notebook and pencil if you wish
  • Old clothes/overalls and head covering, as you will get dusty, and well-fitting gloves
  • Sensible shoes/boots – steel toe caps if you have them (sandals are not suitable)
  • Hand cream and a pair of gloves that fit well

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials, including notebooks, pencils and wet and dry paper

Additional information

Please note: Your workshop will be in the Sculpture Courtyard, which is a 10-minute walk from the main house through the walled garden or can be accessed by car. You should arrive by 8:50am for registration at the Main House, to ensure you can walk/be directed over to the Sculpture Courtyard at 9:05am for a 9:15am start. Classes are from 9:15am – 5pm. The Sculpture Courtyard is open on one side, so be prepared for any type of weather. As this course is held in the Sculpture Courtyard, morning coffee and afternoon tea will be held in the nearby Carrington Studio. You will return to the main house for lunch. Stone carving is a dusty activity, so please wear appropriate clothing. Safety equipment is supplied by the College for your use, including dust masks, safety spectacles, respirator face shield and ear defenders and are essential. Strong shoes or boots (steel toe caps preferred) must be worn when in the workshop. You might like to bring gloves to work in that fit well. Full health and safety instructions will be given.


Simon Keeley

Over the last twenty years Simon Keeley MA has been designing and carving stone carvings for important buildings such as Westminster Abbey, Westminster School, and Harley Street in London. In recent years he has won Gold and Silver awards for The Craft and Design Magazine.

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