Introduction to stone carving with Paula Haughney

Ref: SWE32241

Location: West Dean
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Places available

About this course

An action packed course for beginners wishing to learn the basic methods and techniques of stone carving. This structured weekend covers carving two types of stone, sedimentary and metamorphic and two ways of working.

Course Description

This is a beginner’s course for those wishing to discover more about stone carving and making sculpture. It’s an action-packed weekend, which will cover all you need to know, including which stones are used for carving and the techniques to reduce the given rock to the desired form. No experience is needed, it is easier than you think, and there is a method and stone to suit everyone. You just need enthusiasm and a willingness to give it a go.

Health and safety will be covered. It is important to have a good work practice from the start. How you stand and hold the chisel/hammer is very important to be an efficient and productive carver.

Three projects will be set to give you the experience of two types of stone, their different qualities and techniques for carving.

You will be given a block of Maltese limestone, 6 x 6 x 2 inches (still sold in imperial measurements) cut into two. This is a soft sedimentary rock with a fine grain.

First project – using one piece of the Maltese limestone, create a small sculpture. A variety of tools will be used to shape the stone. You will be sawing, chiseling, drilling, filing and texturing. This is a practice piece to experience all the ways of reducing and shaping the block. The tutor will demonstrate all the tools needed for this task.

Second project – using the second piece of Maltese limestone, carve a small relief of an oak leaf. You will learn how to transfer a design onto a block, enlarging by squares, roughing out to a level, shaping the design, undercutting, finishing and texturing.

Third project – direct carving. You will choose a small metamorphic soapstone rock with at least one natural surface. The soapstone has wonderful colour and markings and can be polished to a silky surface. How to smooth and polish will be shown. This is a free expressive project, and it is up to you how to respond to the form of the stone. Finally, it will be finished with oil and wax.

You will be taught by demonstrating carving techniques and processes and one-to-one tutorials. By the end of the course, you will have gained skills and knowledge to embark on your own sculptural journey and have three examples of different ways of working to take away. The tutor will bring examples, imagery and books to inspire you.

Written information will be given throughout the course.

- Types of stone suitable for carving and where to source them

- Tools and technique

- Tools and sundry suppliers

- Health and safety for the stone carver

- Book list for further study and enjoyment

Course Materials


  • Use of tools and oils

What students need to bring

  • Come with a sketchbook and notebook.
  • Some protective clothing (apron or overalls), gloves (gardening or work gloves that fit your hands), covered footwear (strong shoes or boots) and a hat

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Maltese limestone and soapstone for the course

Additional information

All tools and equipment for the course are provided by the college. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open toes or sandals). Safety boots if possible. Stone carving is a dusty activity, safety equipment such as eye shields and dust masks will be provided. Stone carving is a physical activity, and it is most effective when standing up, but can be achieved sitting down.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

General Information


Paula Haughney portrait

Paula Haughney

Paula Haughney,sculptor, stone-carver, maker and teacher studied at Portsmouth Polytechnic and Eastern Illinois university obtaining a BA and MA in Fine Art Sculpture. Stone carving came later, once found, she realised this was her chosen medium. Now having over 30 years experience and many monumental sculptures completed she has taught at all levels, exhibits regularly and is included in public collections worldwide.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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