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Abstraction: non figurative art: art in which the depiction of objects in nature is subordinated or entirely discarded

Additive process: see Modelling, Casting, Construction, Assemblage

Aerugo: bright green rust which forms on bronze and other metals which contain copper after exposure to air or acid: The obsolete pigment Verdigris was made of this substance. See also Patina, Verdigris

Alabaster: soft, fine grained translucent stone: white or pastel coloured gypsum, often with streaks of deeper colour: breaks and scratches easily

Allegorical figure: personification or representation which symbolizes a concept such as love, heroism, death, war, victory etc.

Alloy: mixture of metals that usually benefits from the best qualities of each of the separate ingredients. See Bronze, Steel

Architectural sculpture: an integral part of a building or sculpture created especially to decorate or embellish an architectural structure

Armature: support, frame or structure upon or around which a sculptural form may be built: the armature for a single sculpture may be constructed out of many different materials such as metal, wood, or plastic, sometimes with small pieces suspended from wires (called papillons)

Assemblage: technique of creating sculpture by combining various elements. Often constructed, it may include found objects (objets trouvées) and/or elements modelled or carved by the artist. See also Construction


Bas relief: the lowest degree of relief, in which all the carving lies within the hollowed-out area below the surface plane, and through an illusion of depth and roundness, looks like raised relief. See also Relief

Bozzetto: see Maquette

Bronze: metal alloy that combines tin and copper: Bronze has been used in sculpture for over five thousand years. See also Casting

Bust: sculpted portrait or representation consisting of head and part of shoulders


Carving: subtractive process, direct method: cutting of a shape, figure or design out of a solid material such as a block of stone or wood: cutting away material. An indirect method of carving used since the 19th century makes use of a pointing machine. See Pointing

Casting: additive process, indirect method: 1. reproducing a sculptural form: usually refers to pouring liquid plaster, metal or glass into a mould where it hardens, in contrast to pressing a more solid material into a mould (which is called moulding) 2. Cire perdue/Lost wax: used since ancient times; method of casting metal or glass in a mould, the cavity of which, (or the positive of the form) is formed with wax which is then melted or burned off and displaced by the molten metal or glass: the process of filling space between the core and mould after the wax layer has been melted off through a vent when a molten material is poured into the mould: process has been used since ancient times 3. Sand casting: a process of metal casting with foundry sand (refractory sand with binding qualities) packed around a plaster model or cast to form a mould or negative of the original sculpture. See also Foundry, Mould

Cast Iron: iron that is remelted in a cupola or furnace and cast into specially shaped moulds; cast iron is softer than steel

Cire perdue (Lost wax) technique of casting. See Casting

Clay: natural earth material with various applications in sculpture: a material that can be manipulated or moulded by hand, when moist. It can be dried in the air or fired in a kiln to make it a permanent relatively nonporous material: used for the direct process of modelling: clay models are used for the indirect process of casting. See also Modelling Clay

Commemorative monuments: monuments with local, regional or international political, cultural or artistic significance: monuments that commemorate a certain event

Composition: organization of forms in a work of art: in sculpture, refers principally to the balance and relation of mass, volume, shapes and spaces

Construction: additive process, direct method: sculpture fabricated by assembling and joining a number of separate parts, rather than modelling, casting or carving. See also Assemblage

Contrapposto: Italian word for "set against." Method developed by the Greeks to represent freedom of movement in a figure. Parts of the body are placed asymmetrically in opposition to each other around a central axis

Copper: a malleable and ductile metal, copper combines well to make other metals such as brass and bronze: reacts with chemicals and oxygen in the air, in most cases turning green. See also Aerugo, Verdigris


Direct method: see Modelling, Carving, Construction, Assemblage

Death mask: cast taken of a person's face after death. See also Life mask


Equestrian statue: sculpture\sculptural groups consisting of horse and rider


Figurative: referring to the human form or shape: reproduction of elements as they exist in life, as opposed to abstraction

Figurine (Statuette): sculptural representation humans or animals at half or less than half life-size

Form: individual shapes, volumes and their relationships: individual masses or groupings

Found Objects: (Objets trouvées): objects which come to an artist's attention by chance: part of a surrealist theory which holds that any object can be a work of art and be exhibited as such; if an object is not used exactly as it was discovered, it is called composed, interpreted or assisted

Foundry: Shop where metal sculpture is cast in moulds. Gases given off by molten metals are siphoned off through a series of runners and risers: Furnace temperature for melted bronze is 1010 degrees Celsius or 1880 Fahrenheit. See also Casting, Mould

Frieze: wide flat band encircling part or all of a building facade or part of an interior or exterior wall, often decorated with relief carvings or ornamentation

Freestanding: (in the round): sculpture standing alone, usually on a pedestal or base: sculpture not attached to a background or wall (in contrast to Relief)

Funerary sculpture: produced for rituals commemorating the dead or as an individual expression of grief: sculpture used in, or associated with, the rites of burial to document, revere, represent and identify the dead such as Tombstones, effigies, urns, etc. See also Memorial


Gargoyle: "Gargoyles were created with a two-fold practical purpose. One, to ward off evil and second, to eject excess water from the exterior of buildings. A gargoyle, although sometimes mistaken for a grotesque, is a spout or eavestrough carved in the form of a human or animal figure projecting from a roof gutter to catch rainwater and throw it clear of a building." Quoted from the Canadian Government website, Stones of History: Carvings of Stone. Click here to see some gargoyles and grotesques in the Stones of History Carving Gallery.

Garden sculpture: sculpture that is intended to enhance or compliment a garden or outdoor setting

Granite: very hard and durable stone: can average over 350 to 400 million years old and range in colour from black, grey, pale to dark pink, yellow to vibrant red

Gypsum: see Alabaster, Plaster (Plaster of Paris)


High relief: see Relief


Indirect method: method of sculpting in which the artist is not in direct contact with the manipulation of the sculpting material. See Casting, Pointing

In the round: see Freestanding


Lead: heavy, very soft dull silvery metal with a low melting point: may be used as a weight in the base of sculpture

Life mask: cast of the face or whole head of a living person. See also Death mask

Limestone: sedimentary rock composed of carbonate of lime: a form of calcium carbonate which can be carved on its own or ground up to make plaster when mixed with sand. See also Plaster

Lost wax: see Casting

Low relief: see Relief


Maquette (Bozzetto): scale model for large sculpture: simple three dimensional sketch of a work

Marble: hard, crystalline form of calcium carbonate (hard limestone) capable of taking a high polish: often white yet can also be various colours: has been used for sculpture since ancient times

Medal: small piece of metal (usually gold silver or bronze) bearing a relief on one or both sides; unlike coins they are cast, not struck or stamped

Memorial: structure or sculpture built specifically to preserve the memory of persons or events. See also Commemorative monument, Funerary sculpture

Metal: see Alloy, Bronze, Cast Iron, Lead, Steel, Tin, Wrought Iron

Metal armature: see Armature

Modelling: additive process, direct method 1. in sculpture; manipulation of soft, pliable, malleable material such as clay or wax 2. posing for an artist 3. depiction of light and shade in order to give the illusion of three-dimensional properties to a figure or object in a painting or drawing

Modelling clay: 1. any clay which can be modelled or thrown 2. non-hardening clay containing various additives, also known as plasticine. See also Clay

Monumental (monumentality): 1. work that is, or gives the impression of being large in size or stature; grand, massive and apparently permanent like a monument, regardless of actual size 2. a work intended to celebrate and preserve the memory of a person, event or idea (i.e., a monument to...). See also Memorial, Commemorative monument

Mould: hollow (or negative) container used in casting to shape material allowed to harden in it. A typical mould is made of Plaster of Paris: A waste mould can only be used once because it is detroyed when removing the cast. Piece moulds may be reused. See also Casting, Foundry


Negative space: enclosed empty space which makes an essential contribution to the composition


Objets Trouvées: see Found Objects


Papillion: see Armature

Patina: coating or covering produced by age, such as gloss on wood or green incrustation on bronze: oxidation of bronze or copper through water, chemicals or acids, to produce different surface textures and colours. See also Aerugo, Verdigris

Pediment: triangular shaped area of a building which is often the site of relief carving or pedimental sculpture. The pediment is formed by the continuation of the eaves around the gable

Plaster: fine white powder, which when mixed with water to a paste or creamy consistency, sets to a hard, cohesive mass: gypsum plaster used for sculpture is called Plaster of Paris because gypsum came from around Paris, France: Plaster, concrete and papier-maché are considered permanent forms of modelling since they do not need to be cast. See also Limestone, Mould

Plaster casting: see Casting

Plasticine: see Modelling clay

Pointing: used for the indirect method of carving: transposes strategic measurements on the surface of sculpture to reproduce, enlarge or reduce it. A pointing machine has adjustable metal arms which mechanically transfer and/or adjust measurements from all over the surface of a model to block of wood or stone. Rodin used this method: enables skilled workers to carve replicas of a sculptor's original handmade sculpture. See also Stonecarver

Portrait busts: portrait which includes the head, neck and part of the shoulders and breast, usually mounted on a base or column


Relief: 1. any work in which the figures project from a background. Reliefs are classified by the degree of projection 2. High relief: relief carved deeply enough to suggest parts are almost detached from the surrounding support 3. Low relief: figures that project less than half of their true depth from the background. See also Bas relief


Sand casting: see Casting

Sandstone: hardness and colour vary: may fracture or be too hard to carve easily, depending on the amount of quartz contained

Sculpture: works of art in which images and forms are carried out primarily in three dimensions. It is impossible to see the whole of a fully three-dimensional object at once. To be fully viewed, it must be turned around or the observer must move around it, and by these actions the appearance is dynamic and constantly changing

Soapstone: whitish, grey, green and brown steatite: soft, smooth, easily carved stone vulnerable to dampness The talc in it gives the surface a slippery, soapy feeling: frequently used for small Inuit carvings

Statue (Statuary): sculpture in the round depicting humans and/or animal figures or small figure groups

Space: see Negative space

Statuette: see Figurine

Steel: alloy of iron and carbon and other materials. It is stronger than iron

Stone: general term for cut rock suitable for carving: material used in the subtractive process. See Alabaster, Granite, Limestone, Marble, Sandstone, Soapstone

Stonecarver: the elite among stoneworkers, and as much artist as craftsman. The stonemason lays the stone or works with stone. The stonecutter cuts rough stone blocks from the quarry; the stone polisher polishes granite. It is stonecarvers who are skilled at turning a plain block of stone into a decorative piece with carved images of plant motifs, beasts, gargoyles or human forms. See also Pointing

Subtractive process: see Carving


Terra cotta: - literally "baked earth" in Italian: unglazed clay dried in the air and baked or fired: usually red to black, most often reddish-brown. Terra cotta has been used since neolithic times

Tin: inexpensive, fusible, corrosion resistant metal which takes a high polish

Tombstones: see Funerary sculpture


Verdigris: copper or brass rust which gives a particular green colour to old roofs and bronze statues: valued for its aesthetic quality (Sometimes when a weathered copper roof has been partially repaired, the contrast between the bright new reddish-gold replacement and the old dull green copper right is highly visible.) used in medicine and for making pigments. See also Aerugo, Bronze, Patina


War memorials: see Commemorative sculpture, Funerary sculpture, Monument

Wax: used for carving, engraving, moulding, modelling and casting because it is sensitive to pressure and a good material for fine detail work: traditional recipes combined beeswax with turpentine, tallow or rosin in varying proportions for various degrees of hardness or malleability

Wood: used for subtractive process of carving (and nowadays for constructions): may be soft, like cedar and pine; or hard, like boxwood, mahogany, maple, oak or walnut

Wrought-iron: high-quality iron mixed with glasslike slag to make it more malleable and resistant to corrosion than other types of iron: usually formed into strips that can be welded together


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