Rodin inspired casting and stone carving with Paula Haughney

Carving in stone and wood

Ref: S5D12002

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About this course

Cast hands, feet and faces in plaster to use for reference or as a starting point for your own sculpture carved in stone.

Course Description

Many artists and sculptors have used plaster casts to aid their practice, French sculptor Auguste Rodin in particular, also George Frederic Watts, either to use for reference or to inspire a completely new pose or idea. Rodin would make clay models of bodies and hands, cast them and rearrange in different positions. Watts would cast from life to use as reference in paintings and sculpture. Your tutor uses casts of herself to refer to when carving stone sculptures. The aim of this course is to cast hands, feet and faces in plaster which will build a repertoire of references to aid future stone carvings. You will be able to take home these casts and make a stone sculpture in soft Maltese Limestone.

The course begins on the first evening with casting our own, hands, feet and faces using alginate and plaster bandages. Working in pairs, full instruction and demonstration on how this is done, with written handouts.

The next morning when the casts are dry you will prepare them for casting in fine white plaster. Instructions on how to mix and pour the plaster will be given. It doesn’t take long to set. The warmer the water the quicker the process. When the plaster is setting you can feel the heat of the chemical process. When cool you will take off the backing and have your solid plaster casts. There will be a short presentation illustrating how other artists have used casts in their own work whilst the plaster is going off or setting.

You will then contemplate how to use the casts. It could be straight copying in stone as an exercise or as a part of a composition. Time will be spent drawing and thinking about all options. There will be various stones available to choose from, blocks of Maltese limestone which is a fine grained limestone to more organic shapes in soapstone and alabaster.

This course is for beginners and those with some experience, full instruction on methods and techniques will be given throughout, covering taking casts from a human body, making of the plaster cast and carving stone. How you stand and hold a chisel is important to efficient carving. There will be teaching by demonstration with individual and group tuition. Handouts will be provided on all the processes, a book list, tool and a list of stone merchants. There will be visual stimulus on the workshop walls, and books to browse through and inspire.

It is great and beneficial to work and carve in a group, so much is learnt from each other in a positive atmosphere.

There will be a variety of shapes and sizes of Maltese limestone available plus soapstone and alabaster which can be purchased from the College Craft Shop.

Tools and equipment are supplied by the college for use by the students whilst attending the course including dust masks and goggles.


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 until 9pm, 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


  • Course fee to cover alginate, plaster bandage and fine white casting plaster. Vaseline.
  • Wet and dry paper.

What students need to bring

  • Swimming cap (to cover head and hair when casting).
  • Sketch book and drawing materials.
  • Camera or phone for recording.
  • Apron or boiler suit, hat, gloves to work in or to handle stone (need to fit).
  • Sun cream if working outside or umbrella if forecast shows rain. The workshop is open on one side so be prepared for any type of weather.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Maltese limestone blocks in different sizes, soapstone and alabaster in more organic form.
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open toes or sandals). Safety boots if possible. Stone carving is a dusty activity, safety equipment such as eye shields and dust masks will be provided. Stone carving is most effective standing up but can be achieved sitting down. . Please note: Your workshop will be in the Sculpture Courtyard which is a 10 minute walk from the main house through the walled garden, or can be accessed by car. The Sculpture Courtyard is open on one side so be prepared for any type of weather. Morning coffee and afternoon tea will be held in the nearby Carrington Studio. You will return to the main house for lunch.


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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