ANGELA TREAT LYON original contemporary painting & sculpture



Sculpt, carve:
Making figures or designs in three dimensions; a three-dimensional, free-standing work of art; to shape (a material such as stone or wood); to create by shaping stone or wood or other material (stone, wood, ice, butter, etc.).

Here you see what I see when I start to carve. That piece of stone sits on a table about 30" off the ground.

It's a lovely block of striated Oamaru Limestone, from Oamaru New Zealand.

Next to the block of stone, you can see my little chopped-off 2-pound hammer, and various chisels and rifflers (smaller, finer files for details).

Oamaru Stone Sculpture & Other Stone Sculpture

It became one of my very most favorite pieces, I'm Happy to Be Me.

Most of them are simple wood-carving tools, since Oamaru stone is pretty soft. I didn't have any of my hard-stone tools with me there.

The photo was taken during my stay in Gore, NZ in 2001-2. At the time the only power tools I was using there was a grinder to lop off the larger chunks to begin the piece.

The stone was so soft that if you moved too fast, off came a piece that you didn't want. So I decided to just take it easy and go slow.

Loved it! I carved all my pieces there by hand, except the 2-ton piece at the symposium at Oamaru (where the artists were only allowed to use power tools in the early mornings when the park was free of tourists - then it was chip-chip-chip by hand till 5pm when we could go back to power again!).

See more sculpture out of Oamaru stone here.

I started carving when I was still making pots for a living. I'd carve designs in the clay surface which would collect and pool the glazes to enhance the design. One day I thought, what am I making pots for? Why not just carve?

In 1982, a friend introduced me to some California soapstone and that was that. Love at first sight.

I carved using only hand tools for ten years before I felt I was ready for the bite and speed of machine tools. I wanted to learn the feel of the various types of stone, learn how each one responds to various movement, tool, type of cut; what stone was how hard, came in what colors, could be used for figurative or simple design. I could probably have gone for the rest of my life without using power tools, but being a pretty impatient person and wanting to see reuslts faster, I finally felt that I should make the shift.

So I went to Italy to learn from a master how to use air tools - tools powered by air, rather than by electricity. I had been using power grinders and polishing tools, but air tools are so much easier. I learned how to carve marble there, as well.


It was quite an experience.

I went with a group of folks that was escorted by artist John del Monte.* We stayed in the historic famed walled town of Lucca.

Once upon a time it was actually a capital of Italy.

It also was a robber's town, and now has the distinction of having more banks per capita there than any other town. Go figure....

Most of us were experienced carvers, some not, but within a short amount of time our Professore, Roberto Bertola, had us whipped into shape and carving easily with air tools as if we had done it all our lives.

This is an arial shot of Lucca. The white square shows the little street complex where most of his students stay at Albergo La Luna.

I had the enormous good fortune to get to the hotel and find my room taken, so they gave me a 3-bedroom apartment nearby for the same price!

It was right near the campanile - the bells at the church right across the street. They chimed almost on the hour....

* You can see John's work and read about the tours he manages at:

I went to Italy again in 1992, staying in the marble town of Pietra Santa - the town down the mountain from Carrara, where Michaelangelo got his stone for the David, among others. He stayed at the hotel right around the corner from where I was staying.

It was so wonderful to go to the piazza every morning to the bar* and look up to see the name Michaelangelo on the building right there, knowing he had been there, carved in this very town, walked these very streets!

This time I studied with another master, Leo Muti. This time I was with one of stone carver Lynn Streeter's groups. I'm not usually a group kinda gal, but this time it was great to go with a group. You get studio space for lots less than if you were alone, and feedback and ideas every day that wouldn't ordinarily be there if you were solo. The hotel fees are less, as well, with the group discount. Besides, it's just more fun!

* In Italy, a bar is not an alcohol-serving establishment. It is an eating place (from a tiny one-person counter stuck in a niche in an outside wall to a large restaurant-sized place) where you order at a bar, get the food, and then go sit at an outside table, or if in a hurry, stand at the bar to eat. Took me a while to get used to going to a "bar" for my meals!

Bas Relief: sculpture that, rather than being three dimensionsal and standing on its own, is carved or cast so that it stands out from a surrounding background.

This is Relax, carved out of NZ Mt. Somers stone.

Carving in bas relief is one of my favorites things to do. There's something about making a flat piece of material look three dimensional that just gives me a kick!

This is how I'm Happy to Be Me started out.

After drawing the approximate locations of the various design elements on the stone with a hard, fat, red sculpture crayon, I used the grinder to cut that hunk out of the left side there, then went at it with half-inch and quarter-inch chisels.

Lopping off the long end of the hammer allows me to have more wrist action without the end of the hammer brushing against the inside of my wrist.

Here it's about one-third through. The elements have been shaped out, and now I can step back and see if I want to make any major changes.

You can see how tall the prow is now - whereas later I chopped it off - it just seemed too big for the boat.

Next step is to rough out the boat.

At this point, I hadn't even started the water.

I wanted to make sure the figure was right before I did anything else - then I could be assured that I wouldn't have to go back and shorten her or move her around at all.

Almost done. Usually I work a piece all over to keep consistent style and movement. But this one seemed to have its own logic. You can see how the figure is almost done, and the water is only part way finished.

I left the water very coarse - movement and action! - and used rifflers - no snadpaper - on the figure. It's just short of softly finished. Peace and tranquility - just cruisin' in my little boat!

You can see the finished piece here.

Now I'm back in Hawaii, and haven't carved since I left NZ., but I'll start carving again!

Most of the stone sculptures on this site are now unavailable, but f you see one on these pages that you like and want to commission, I can create a piece for you that is similar to what you see here, or is a starting point for something different. Please make sure you read the information on commissions.


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