Monday, April 06, 2009

Soapstone

Some people have asked me, "So what exactly is soapstone?" As a follow up to my previous post, I thought I'd elaborate a little. I'm no geologist (although I did take an introductory geology course in university as an elective) so I thought I'd dig around and see what I could come up with. In a nutshell, soapstone (also referred to as steatite or soap rock) is a type of metamorphic rock, like slate, gneiss (isn't that nice?), and marble. Some carvers do work with marble and the results are quite spectacular I should add.

Soapstone contains a great deal of magnesium and also talc, a very soft type of stone, which is the reason it lends itself so well to being carved. It comes in shades of green, blue-green, black, grey, white and variations thereof. Soapstone was used to carve the qulliq, the traditional Inuit lamp, in which seal oil was burned for cooking, heat and light. In the past various types of soapstone have also been used by other Native North American, Chinese, Indian, Iranian and and African peoples for artwork and medicine and as molds for pewter and silver.

I just think they make fantastic art work!

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