BLACKPEARL SOAPESTONE...
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The Story of BLACKPEARL SOAPSTONE

In the late 1870's a deposit of stone with remarkable qualities was opened in Albemarle County, Virginia. For centuries before Native Americans had sought out this stone for bowls and other utensils, many of which may be seen today in public museums and private collections. The stone was soft enough to be easily shaped and yet was so dense and close-grained as to have a crushing strength equal to that of granite. It was non-absorbent, non-staining, unaffected by extreme temperatures and possessed chemical characteristics making it acid-proof and alkali-proof. 


Stone Maul Reproduction - Larry Richardson

Geologically speaking, BLACKPEARL is a "steatite" - but a steatite with unique and exclusive characteristics possessed by no other natural stone or artificial material. It is a natural product from Nature's own laboratory, ages in the making.
BLACKPEARL affords the following very important advantages: 
1) It is dense, close-grained, with practically no stratification or natural cleavage lines and has a high transverse strength and high resistance to crushing. It resists the tendency to split, flake, chip or spall, even under extreme temperatures For these reasons, it lends itself perfectly to the processes of sculptural carving. No other natural stone can be worked in like manner and retain the sharp corners, smooth surfaces and fine detail distinctive of a sculpture executed in this unique stone. 
2) It is so dense as to be practically non-absorbent - tests have shown an absorption, by weight, of only a fraction of 1% of moisture; and this is only a mere surface penetration which quickly dries off. Because of its non-absorbent qualities, combined with chemical inertness, making it acid-and-alkali resistant, it is practically non-staining and excellent for outdoor sculpture. Slight stains that may occur are only on the surface and are easily removed by sanding. 
3) Its color is a pleasing gray, reflecting light freely, yet not showing dirty marks. When sealed with wax or oil the color turns to a deep rich hue of black, affording a remarkable range of light and shade for the sculptural pallet. 

Ideal Stone for Sculpture Classes
BLACKPEARL is the ideal stone for use in sculpture classes. Because it is of the highest quality, it facilitates the teaching process by allowing students to spend more time exploring sculptural concepts rather than encountering difficulties related to the stone itself. Each piece of BLACKPEARL is checked thoroughly before shipment to ensure that it is free of faults, fissures, and hard inclusions. These imperfections can be especially frustrating for the beginning carver. The stone can be worked with a minimum number of basic tools.

Testing for Quality - Take a woodcarving chisel or knife blade and scrape an area flat. If the stone texture is consistent, there will be no bumps or hard spots and will carve well. In most cases, a fault can be seen by wetting the stone and watching it dry. If the stone has a fault, you will see lingering wetness along the fault line as the stone dries.


Jill Lion - sculptor

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