Soapstone like any other stone can be damaged. But unlike other stone, the damage to a soapstone sculpture is more obvious. This is because of the fact that the basic component of soapstone is talc. The green colour of the soapstone is derived from impurities mixed into the talc that gives its hardness and colour. Depending on the impurities, the stone can be a variety of colours and hardness.
   Dolomite is a factor of the hardness of the stone of the Madoc, Ontario soapstone and magnetite is one of the main constituents of the hardness of the Virginia soapstone. Chlorite I believe is one of the main reasons for the green of the Quebec soapstone. The talc is what causes the white scratches that appear on the polished soapstone sculpture when it gets marked or damaged.
   A sculpture can be scratched, bruised or chipped. Each of these injuries to a sculpture requires a different method of repair.

   A scratch is the simplest damage to repair. Often the mark is very slight only discolouring the stone. This can be repaired easily by rubbing oil into the scratch. If the sculpture has a wax finish, setting the sculpture in a sunlit area will cause the sculpture to heat up, allowing the wax to remelt into the scratched area, returning it to the original colour. Deeper scratches may require the sanding of the damaged area of the sculpture before finishing.

   A bruise occurs when a heavy object hits the sculpture. This will cause a crushing of the stone in the contact area to a depth, depending on the force of the blow. This can not be repaired by the simple use of oil.
   The bruised area must be sanded down to the natural stone before oil or wax can be applied (See Sanding and Polishing.)

Chips or Breaks
   Sometimes a blow will cause a portion of the sculpture to break off. If it is a clean break, the piece can be glued back using 2-part epoxy. Be careful that you have the broken piece in the correct position before the glue dries.
If it is a large piece broken, you may wish to pin the piece in place. This is done by drilling two opposing holes in each side of the break and epoxying a copper pin to hold the broken pieces together.
   I will harden the epoxy before finishing, by heating the carving in an oven at about 100° for about a half-hour. This cures the epoxy, hardening it so the repaired area can be filed and sanded to reshape and remove the excess glue before polishing.

Looking for someone to do repairs of Steatite (soapstone) Sculptures?


Diane Caron
DC Restoration / Décoration DC
Tel : 514-946-3602

Web Page