Rasps, Rifflers and Rouge Oh My!
When most people think of sculpting tools a hammer and chisel come to mind. But there are other tools that are almost as important, the rasp and the riffler. These metal spear-like tools remove all of the scratches that were created by the previous carving chisels and begin to create detail and movement in the sculpture.
The rasp can cover larger areas while the smaller riffler is necessary for detail work and getting into tight spaces. I've come to really love this part of the process because I now begin to see the final work emerging. This is also when I determine if there may be something else I can remove as well as anticipate the kind of finish that will best compliment the piece. Things usually come up here that I somehow hadn't noticed before. This is also the time to make sure that I haven't missed anything that may enhance sculpture. Rouge is a fine abrasive that comes later on in the sanding process and adds just another level of enhancing the surface.
At this stage touch is key so I remove my protective gloves and continually feel the surface as I work. I'm searching for a smoothness over the entire surface. I sometimes like to close my eyes and just feel with my finger tips for any irregularities. The smother the surface I can create, the more the beauty of the stone is revealed. Sunlight also plays a critically important role here because in direct sunlight the scratches can be more easily spotted. This is a long and detailed process but having glimpses of the finished work brings excitement and anticipation. Getting close!