Craftsman starts the sculpting process by the selection of the stone, based on the order given by the costumer. Generally, the set of tools consist of hammer, mallet, seven types of different chisel and stone rasp (rifflers). Craftsman make reference clay statue of the marble statue he is about to make, clay statue helps in marking the reference point on the marble stone and its shape and proportion can be changed if it is required. After the finalization of the clay statue by the master craftsman or the client, with the help of reference point made on the marble, craftsman start the sculpting process. Even before the craftsman starts the sculpting process, depending on the size of the stone, a pit is dug, which consist of the lose sand which is available locally near the pond or river banks. In case the, the activity in done inside a house or a room, where a pit cannot be dug, and sand bag is used, generally it is made up of jeans or khadi fabric, these fabric creates friction between the stone and bag hence marble stone does not slip or slide while the carving process is going on. Sand bag helps in absorb the vibration created by hammering or chiseling, it prevents in the formation of micro cracks.
Roughing the stone is the 1st step involved in the sculpting process, unwanted stone is removed by heavy hammering and chisel, many of the craftsmen’s have been using power tools such as circular saw with a masonry blade or angle grinder with a diamond stone cutting blade, to save time and it also ease their work. Using power tools, craftsmen cut slice’s into the marble with a gap of about half inch between each slice. By using the slice technique, craftsman avoid the risk of damaging the statue, which might happen, if large chunks are removed without using this technique. These slices are removed with the help of hammer and flat chisel.
Pointed chisel is used in the 2nd step, using pointed chisel, steep lines are made on the marble, and this process does not aim in removing the large amount of stone, it is only to make guided line, which are used to make the basic/rough shape of the statue, generally the pointed chisel is held at 45 degree angle, but the angle can be changed depending on the hardness of the stone. Craftsman makes line about 2 inches apart in a crosshatch pattern, making small cubes, square or rectangle on the marble surface, which can be removed with the help of chisel. Rather than following contours of the marble stone (which are made by the line), which might just reduce the size of the total marble, craftsman make sure that, the low point on the statue is always kept low and high point is always kept high.
Claw chisel is used in the 3rd step, claw chiseled have 4 pointed tip, and this is used to remove the line which was created by the pointed chisel, with the introduction of each tool which is used on the marble, it is shaped and refined. By the time all the line are removed, the rough anatomy of statue can be seen.
Toothed chisel is used in the 4th step. Toothed chisel has 4 teeth like tip. It is used to remove the marks made by the claw chisel. (Generally, in the marble sculpting, steps are following in the order it is mentioned here, for stones like soap stone and other softer stone, some steps can be vice versa) toothed chisel helps is smoothing the surface of marble. To remove the rough line created by the toothed chisel, flat chisel is used. It helps to remove any uneven surface.
Rasps or rifflers is used in the 5th step, these tools are generally used for the smoothening purpose, and it removed all the marking from the above mention process (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th step). These tools are not to be used to remove large materials from the stone. The key to get the maximum output with help of these tools, is the handling. Generally, these tools are should be used in one direction (forward direction), however if a see saw action is used, it will damage the tool and blunt its surface. Next, with the help of file tool, one more round of smoothening is done to the surface (this step is optional)
Making the details 6th step, after the body proportion of the statue is obtained, it undergoes fine detailing, is this process, details like eyes, lips, nostrils, nose wings, finger nails, jewelry, texture of dress etc is created. The details are marked on the marble with a pencil or crayons, ink is avoided as it may seep into the marble and create unwanted results. With the help of air chisel and die grinder details are craved on the sculpture.
Sanding is the 7th process, in this process sand paper is used to smoothen the surface, diamond sand paper can also be used, but due to the cost factor, silicon carbide sand paper is used. Sanding helps to remove all the minute marks made earlier by the tools. Sanding process starts with 150 grit sandpaper, which can go up to 1000 grits (Depending to the smoothness to be achieved), water proof sand paper is dipped in water and gently rubbed against the marble surface, and too much pressure can damage the fine detailing. It is a very time taking process and has to be done carefully for fine finishing.
Polishing 8th and final step , buffing wheel is used to polish the surface of the marble, marble wax polished is applied on the marble and buffed, buffed marble stone statue is then colored are per the requirement of client, sliver varak sheet is fasten to the paint before it dry’s. varak is generally fasten on the ornamentation of the idol.