How to Use Soapstone in Art

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    • 1). Purchase a piece of soapstone with enough meat on it to accommodate your carving. Keep the carving around 6 inches in height, with a base around 6 inches wide. The soapstone you begin with should be a couple of inches longer each way, just to give you the room you need to carve.

    • 2). Sketch an idea for your carving on paper or use a photograph as a guide. This will help keep you focused as you carve away to get the rough shape and details. Carving blind can lead to mistakes you'll have to do some extra carving to fix, which can take away from the initial dimensions of your carving.

    • 3). Use a carving knife with a small to medium blade to bring out the base and the roughed out shape of your carving. Since soapstone is so much easier to carve than other stones, make your cuts shallow until you get a feel for the soapstone. This helps avoid removing too much material at once. Don't worry about your details here. All you want is the roughed out shape.

    • 4). Use a small rasp to shape the rough edges. The smaller the rasp, the less you'll risk damaging your sculpture. You can use sandpaper, too, though it's a little more difficult to use in harder-to-reach places. The goal is to remove all the rough edges and bring out the roundness of the lines.

    • 5). Detail your soapstone carving using a very small knife. Use the tip of the knife to cut into the soapstone for getting the detail elements started, then you can angle your blade to shave away to bring out the details.

    • 6). Polishing the carving smooth using 220-grit sandpaper. Dip your carving into water and gently rub the sandpaper over your carving. You'll see a white, almost muddy buildup. This can be rinsed from your carving when you finish the polishing stage. The goal is to remove all the white lines in your carving, which are file marks. You can also polish a carving by applying a light layer of wax or linseed oil, then buffing the oil away after it dries.

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