The Digital Stone Project (DSP) teaches artists the basics of creating new types of stone sculptures with the help of CNC machines

One of the works from a course.

For the seventh time the initiative around sculptor Jon Isherwood together with Garfagnana Innovazione has organized a four-week „Digital Stone Carving Residency”

The Digital Stone Project (DSP) aims to „introduce artists and architects to CNC technologies”. This is how the US sculptor Jon Isherwood, founder and president of the initiative, puts it. This year, the „Digital Stone Carving Residency” will take place for the eighth time. The price for four weeks of learning, use of the machine, accommodation and meals ranges from about 4100 € for students and 5900 € for professionals of various disciplines, depending on the participants.

The course takes place at the Garfagnana Innovazione Stone Centre in the mountains behind Massa Carrara. There you will be equipped with the most modern CNC machines, and experienced professionals will be available to the participants.

CNC-machine at work.

It is „a dialogue with the technologists”, as Isherwood puts it: before starting up one of the machines, participants and professionals exchange ideas about what sculptors have already done with such tools, what could be possible beyond that and what ideas the participants have brought with them…

In the end, however, the sculptors still resort to traditional methods, for example to put the finishing touches to a surface or to rework individual points. Isherwood makes it clear: „I think the human hand and eye are essential to create the final expression.”

His idea is not that the machine completes the work, but that the artist, for his part, reacts to its preliminary result and that he develops it further if necessary. As was already said, dialogue is at the heart of the course, and in order for the artists to be able to keep the creative process in their own hands, Isherwood wants to give them an insight into the technology.

A visit to the quarry is part of the program.

The course has now gone through seven rounds. The next one will take place from May 30th to July 28th, 2020 and is fully booked. Around 150 people have participated so far, including professional artists or designers as well as students from art colleges or teachers from there. For 3 out of 4, the work on stone was a novel experience.

In the courses, many of the participants have tried out new shapes or innovative surface designs, including stone types that could not be worked properly with conventional tools, says Isherwood. The works are shown on the webpage.

The course also includes an exhibition of the works.

Atmosphere like at a sculptors’ symposium

The Digital Stone Project was founded in 2003 in the USA. Since then there have been a number of changes in the concept. The current president is Jon Isherwood. The council is made up of „pioneers who have been working with digital media in sculpture for 25 years,” according to Isherwood. He continues: „We aim to create and grow a network of artists working in stone for the 21st century.“

Digital Stone Project

Photos: Digital Stone Project

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(24.04.2020, USA: 04.24.2020)