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Soapstone

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"Sculptures are fascinating... It takes a special ability to shape a rough piece of stone into a beautiful work of art."
---John Hoskin


Soapstone is an impure variety of Talc. Impurities are what give the stone its beautiful green and black colors.

Polishing the stone bring out these colors. Scratching the stone will produce a white mark of the talc. Should this occur, boiled linseed oil applied to the scratch and polished with a soft cloth will restore it to its original color. Any excess oil should be removed. Clean with a soft flannel cloth sprayed with Pledge.

Soapstone, is “Steatite”, a metamorphic rock having a soapy feel. Composed of talc, chlorite, magnetite and other impurities that will determine the color and hardness. It is found throughout the world in a wide range of colors including pink, green, yellow, brown, blue, and black.

The major advantage of working in soapstone is its availability (there are deposits from Newfoundland to Alabama, along the line of the Appalachians).

Because of its malleability, it has been used for carving for centuries. Egyptians carved figures and bowls of soapstone to be put into the tombs of pharaohs. Soapstone seals of Indian origin have been found in Bahrain and Ur. Paleoeskimos were mining the stone to make bowls and lamps on the Baie Verte Peninsula 1600 years ago.


Early commercial use of soapstone in Canada in the 1800's was the building of stoves. Its thermal properties allow the soapstone stove to remain warm hours after the fire was out. It has also been used extensively in laboratories, because of its resistance to heat, acids and other chemicals. Crayons made of soapstone are used in marking steel because these marks will not burn off during welding.


The stone I use is quarried by Les Pierres Stéatites, East Broughton, Quebec, in the Eastern Townships. The stone is extracted by hand, using drills and wedges, thus avoiding the internal fracturing of the stone that occur when blasting. Then it is cut into various sizes of blocks as requested by the purchaser.


Click here to view all my photos via Flickr albums

About the Artist: John Hoskin

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 In the summer of 1997, I went to the Haliburton School of the Arts, in Ontario, Canada to study sculpture and the techniques of working in soapstone with Sandy Cline. After several years of studying and experimenting with various types of stone, I felt confident to have an exhibition of my work. The first exhibition was a success and several stores and galleries expressed an interest in selling my work.


Recently I have been working with other potential carvers in my area. One of the photos is a mixed media sculpture carved by my son-in-law Carl. The Pike is of Brazilian Soapstone and the Sunfish is of Quebec Soapstone mounted on a grape wood base.

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