Soapstone Quarrying, a Stoneworker’s Approach
Chapter, Peer reviewed
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Practical activities are best expressed and understood through practice. Present understanding of former times’ crafts practice are mainly based on theoretical interpretations of the traces and products left behind. By contrast, a stoneworker sees the crafts’ process as a source of knowledge. This is the thought behind The traditional quarrying project, carried out in the Klungen soapstone quarry, close to Trondheim, Norway in 2011. The project intended to achieve a more detailed insight into quarrying methods of the past. Main fields of interest were the methods themselves, time consumption, choice and use of tools and similarities/differences in techniques applied to shape the pieces to be quarried. One may rightfully ask if this project, carried out by a present day stoneworker, can provide answers relevant for aspects of past times’ quarrying. The factors assessed were reduced to those essential in any stone working process; the material, the craftsperson and the tools. Regardless of time and purpose, the material stands out as an unchangeable or static factor, and it sets the premises for what can be done and how. A material-related ‘timelessness’ is thus revealed and makes the craftsperson’s answers relevant for soapstone working in general.