Carving in stone and wood

Stone carving alabaster – translucency in a rock with Paula Haughney

Ref: S5D10424

Suitable for all

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About this course

Alabaster is a particular stone with many unusual colours and markings. Carve this intriguing substance and equip yourself with the skills to create your own unique sculpture. Discover its history and contemporary sculptural uses.

Course Description

Gypsum (Hydrated Calcium Sulphate) is relatively soft depending on the colour. White is the softest but it can be pink, orange, grey, brown, blue and mottled with red. Though easily worked, it has strength and can be filed quite thin without breaking. It is different from other types of stone and requires a steady, soft and methodical approach. Particular methods and ways of working will be demonstrated in stages, from shaping to the polishing stage, covering tools, textures and different finishes.

To begin with, you will shape and smooth small pieces of different types of alabaster to gain experience and knowledge of how the material works. This will inform another longer project tailored to your skills and ambitions. Alabaster has wonderful properties and will provide you with a rewarding outcome.

You will learn more about the history of alabaster and its use in ancient civilisations and contemporary sculpture. There will be resource materials and images available for inspiration and ideas. A talk with images will be given on the first evening. Also, relevant printed information will be given throughout the course. All tools and equipment are provided by the College for the student to use during the course. A selection of alabaster will be available to carve. It is too quickly affected by damp weather so best kept for interior use.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Strong boots or shoes to wear during the class
  • It can be dusty so you will need to wear overalls and gloves
  • Alabaster dust can make hands very dry so bring handcream.
  • Come open minded as the alabaster rock shapes will be unknown. Look at examples. There is a display of painted medieval alabaster carvings at the V&A and Ancient Egyptian examples at the British Museum. Bring any gypsum ornaments you have to display. Artists to look at – Jacob Epstein and Jaume Plensa.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Alabaster and a range of general art materials
  • Available from tutor:
  • Some Alabaster
This course can be physical and it is better to stand when carving, though it can be achieved sitting down. It is held in the sculpture courtyard which is a short walk away from the main house, and it is open to the elements on one side. Morning coffee and afternoon tea are provided in the Old Dairy.


Paula Haughney

Paula Haughney,sculptor, stone-carver, maker and teacher studied at Portsmouth Polytechnic and Eastern Illinois university obtaining a BA and MA in Fine Art Sculpture. Stone carving came later, once found, she realised this was her chosen medium. Now having over 30 years experience and many monumental sculptures completed she has taught at all levels, exhibits regularly and is included in public collections worldwide.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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