Marble Carving in the English countryside

AUGUST 8TH - 20th, 2016

The Wiltshire Workshop is a two-week workshop designed to introduce sculptors of any level to the basics of reproducing work in marble. The course centers around copying a small plaster cast of the student's choice into marble, using a pointing machine.

Click to go to the Application page.

The pointing machine - the secret to figurative marble.

The macchinetta a punto, or pointing machine, has been around in various forms for centuries. The Wiltshire Workshop utilizes a design perfected by Antonio Canova in the early 19th century and still handmade in Pietrasanta, Italy by the Milani family. Techniques will focus on hand carving tools, but students will also be able to use air powered hammers and other equipment. Best of all, unlike many workshops offered in Carrara and Pietrasanta, all tools and supplies are provided – no need to spend hundreds on expensive air hammers and macchinettas yourself. The course is designed to introduce carving to the sculptor, without the hassle, expense, and commitment of traveling to Italy. After these two weeks, any sculptor will have the knowledge to continue carving independently, and the knowledge of the basic tools and setup required.

 The nearly completed portrait bust in marble, alongside the plaster cast from which it was copied.

The nearly completed portrait bust in marble, alongside the plaster cast from which it was copied.

 Student work from the Wiltshire Workshop 2015, halfway through.

Student work from the Wiltshire Workshop 2015, halfway through.

The course will be taught by Jason Arkles, the popular sculpture instructor and lecturer based in Florence, Italy, who himself studied in the studios of Pietrasanta in the late 1990's. Jason's marble work can be seen gracing churches and cemeteries in the United States and Italy and in private collections worldwide. Jason teaches marble carving in his studio in Florence, as well as having run two month-long workshops in Pietrasanta and in the Tuscan countryside. In his annual carving workshop in the UK, Jason provides hands-on, personalized instruction to each of the participants of the workshop, as well as give demonstrations on processes and techniques.

 Students practicing chisel technique at the Wiltshire Workshop 2015.

Students practicing chisel technique at the Wiltshire Workshop 2015.

Questions and answers

  • What does the Wiltshire Workshop cost?

    • The complete course fee is 2,000 pounds sterling. What you get for that price: two solid weeks of instruction and practice in marble carving – from dawn to dusk (or as much as you like); a piece of Bianco C quality Carrara marble; a plaster cast selected by you, yours to keep after the workshop; use of tools and equipment and safety gear (ear/eye/ respiration protection, gloves, etc.); Lunch and snacks provided, use of kitchen for preparing meals; camping accommodation if desired.

    • What you aren't paying for, if you were to take a course in Carrara – travel and accommodation in Italy, and about 1,000 Pounds' Sterling worth of your own personal tools, safety equipment, and materials. For those just starting out in marble, those wanting to learn carving on the cheap, or for those who merely wish to have a one time experience in carving, this is the course for you.

    • You will need to pay a 500 pound deposit before July 1 to secure your place in the workshop. See the Application for details.

 

 A sculptress in her early 20's attacks a piece of marble twice her weight.

A sculptress in her early 20's attacks a piece of marble twice her weight.

  • Can anyone carve marble, or do you have to be built like a tank?

    There are no special physical requirements to carve marble – adolescents can do it, pensioners can do it – anyone who is reasonably healthy can do it. If you are strong enough to spend the day gardening, you can spend the day carving. The key to carving is stamina, rather than strength. We work standing up, and while you will feel good and tired at the end of the day, it isn't backbreaking, heavy lifting or brute force work. The 'swing' of a hammer is more akin to a tap than a blow. And, the course is designed so that you can take as many breaks as you need as you work through the day.

 

 The Dying Slave by Michelangelo, one of the selection of casts available for the Wiltshire Workshop students.

The Dying Slave by Michelangelo, one of the selection of casts available for the Wiltshire Workshop students.

  • What will I be sculpting? What are my options?

    Here is the complete selection of casts to chose from! You can state your choice on the application form, and your plaster cast will be waiting for you at the start of the course.

  • Is two weeks enough time to finish a work in marble?

    That's up to you, ultimately, though the casts selected for copying on the course were chosen for their suitability. The larger the work is, and the more detail your chosen cast has, the longer it will take. However, since the plaster casts are yours to keep, you can finish the work on your own time if you don't quite make it in the time allotted for the course. Sanding and polishing is done with inexpensive and readily available materials, and be easily performed at home.

 Relaxation by the campfire after a day's carving.

Relaxation by the campfire after a day's carving.

  • Where in Wiltshire?

The workshop is held at Draycot Foliat, an historic farm and estate located between Marlborough and Swindon. The nearest village (where students can find several choices for accommodation) is named - appropriately enough - Chiseldon! Draycot Foliat is less than 2 miles from the M4, less than two hours' drive from London. The closest train station is Swindon Station, 15 minutes away, and local buses stop practically at the front gate of Draycot Foliat.

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  • Where can I stay if I don't want to camp?

    We can help with that -  we have a lengthy list of inns and hotels very nearby – some within walking distance of the course site, some in Marlborough, and others closer by. Just ask me if you would like a recommendation.

  • Is the 500 pound deposit refundable?

    No, sorry! As we are importing Italian marble for the course, as well as most tools and materials, we need to purchase these things well in advance, hence the need for the deposit. Be sure you want to take the course before you sign up! However, the rest of the course fee is 100% refundable if you cannot take the course for any reason, up to August 1. If you cancel between August 1 and the day of the course, we will refund 50% of your payment beyond the 500 Pound deposit. There will be no refund after the first day of the course, August 10th. To make a payment, see the application page.

I you have any other questions about he course, feel free to ask Jason himself, at thesculptorsfuneral@gmail.com.