Sculptor John Davey Dorset

Making a Stone Abstract Sculpture

The Beginning

When I start making a Stone Abstract Sculpture I don’t always begin with a sketch to inspire me. Sometimes I just start carving a stone and see where it takes me. But this time I did make an initial drawing for making this Abstract Sculpture. It evolved from other previous work that I had carved. At times my imagination runs away with me. All the permutations. So its good to get down to the making, seeing the volume in real. Then adapting, changing shapes, proportions to accomplish a piece that will be harmonious.

The Raw Materials

I always keep an eye out for my raw materials, visiting local quarries at Portland or local Stone Workshops. Sometimes I’m not looking for a particular size or type of stone. But I find it’s important to keep a stock to keep my creative processes moving into fruition. There’s nothing worse than having an idea and no materials to make it with. You may have to adapt the original thought to fit the stone but I always enjoy being led by the dimensions and character of the Stone. It is a partnership.

blocks of Stone for Sculpting
Lets see where we go!

The Carving

This piece is of the beautiful Kilkenny Limestone which can be polished. Working with diamond Tools I rough the shape out. At times using a paper template or just by drawing directly on the stone. Letting my tools guide me towards the perfect shape. To get closer to the form I use tungsten files to smooth out the surface. When I,m happy with the form, I then go on to the next stage.

Sculpture in Progress by John Davey
Roughing out of Kilkenny Stone form.


This was a piece of Carrara Marble that I was polishing for another Sculpture but the techniques are the same. I begin by working the stone in water with different grades of rubbing blocks 80 grain then 120 grain. Moving on to wet & dry emery paper. Working through the grades, 220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000, 2500. Phew! This is a laborious process and you have to be careful to rub out all the previous grades marks before moving onto the next grade. It’s a good idea to wait for the stone to dry between processes to see if there are any scratch marks.

Polishing Stones
Polishing the stones.

Assembling the Sculpture.

I then prepare the stones to be fixed together. Using stainless steel threaded bar of the appropriate thickness and a stone epoxy resin. I carefully mark out the positioning of the holes, always slightly bigger than the bar. Measure twice, drill once! Then I cut the bars to the right length for the depths of the holes. Always assemble the stones together dry, to make sure there are no problems or adjustments to be made. Wash all the stones and let dry. Prepare and have all your tools ready before using the epoxy resin. It can set very quickly!

The Final Stone Abstract Sculpture

You can treat the stones with a lot of different products. Here on the Portland Stone I used the Lithofin MN Stain-Stop impregnator and on the Kilkenny Limestone, Keda Marble Wax.

Abstract Stone Sculpture
“Touch”Kilkenny and Portland Stone. 40 x 28.7 x 10 cms. £ 1000

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the making of a stone abstract sculpture and my creative process. I will be taking part in a local Art Festival at Sculpture by the Lakes, 3rd- 5th July 2020. Showcasing the best Artists and Makers in Dorset. Demonstrating their techniques and talent. Bookings are taken on Eventbrite. Hope to see you there.

Also, feel free to visit my Sculpture page if you would like to see more of my Sculptures.

Stone & Carving Tools Suppliers UK

  • Southern Stone has a great selection of tools and different stones. Malta Limestone, Alabaster and other Marbles.
  • Albion Stone has a great stock of Portland Stone, great for beginners and experts alike.
  • Harbro for tools and stone treatments.

I,d love to get any feedback about my work, feel free to comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.