Marble

Since the Renaissance, marble statuary and sculpture has been known for its timeless beauty. Though it is more expensive than other materials, marble is the medium of choice for fine art pieces throughout history for its texture and durability.

Marble is formed when the limestone is transformed by heat and pressure after being overlain by other materials. Its surface is slightly translucent, which allows artists to fashion abstract shapes with great depth and complexity, or to detail the most realistic sculptures with the material's softness and depth. 

Artists create sculptures and statuary using a very similar method to that used in the 1500s. The artist uses a hammer, mallet, chisel, and sometimes even a hand drill. The hammer is used first, on rough stone. When the hammer strikes the end of the chisel, energy is transferred in a line down the contour in the form of a break. The harder the hit, the deeper the point moves into the stone, and the more material is removed at a time. Then the marble is hit directly to bring about finer detail with a mallet and chisel. The sculpture is finished with special pointing tools and files, such as rasps, abrasive stones, or sand paper to smooth the surface contours. Following the sandpaper, tin oxide is used to create a high-luster polish on marble. 

As marble ages, it becomes more durable, though compared to bronze, marble lacks ductility and strength, requiring more planning before sculpting. Marble also has a tendency to absorb skin oils, which can lead to staining. Marble is best kept indoors, as it can be altered by acids in rain. 

St. Louis Catholic Church Statuary

St. Louis Catholic Church Statuary

Memphis, TN

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