Artists take many shapes and forms. A lot of contemporary visionaries nowadays use paint or photography to capture their in-the-moment experiences. And while taking photos of your dinner is technically considered art (is it?), it sure as hell doesn’t compare to what stone carver Anna Rubincam does for a living.

In a recent film documentary by Jack Webber and Tommaso Di Paola for their Eyes and Ears partnership, the duo take a closer look at the painstaking process of stone carving. Over the course of nine minutes, Anna takes viewers through a mesmerizing, step-by-step process on how to create a beautiful bust from a human face.

She starts off by using calipers and other measuring apparatuses to make sure she sculpts her clay model correctly. If you look closely at her human subject, she is obviously mortified–I don’t think she breathes. Not only is she having her personal space invaded, but every aspect of her face is being evaluated like she’s about to be sold off at an auction.

After making a rough sketch on paper, Anna then moves her vision into 3D space using clay. Much more malleable and less expensive than stone, clay is the prefect material for her to get familiar with her subject and ensure she doesn’t sculpt a nose of Michael Jackson-like proportions.

With the finished sculpt resembling her intended bust, all she has to do now is chisel everything onto a substance ten times harder and heavier than clay. This is the tricky part. Not only does she have to constantly refer to the clay model to get the symmetry right, but every inch of pressure she puts on the chisel must be precise so as not to mess the whole thing up.

The sculpting gets increasingly difficult as she files down the details. If you thought carving hair was hard, think about how every human face is distinct from one another. The nose, the lips, the inconsistencies – every part of the body doesn’t just end; it continues on to form a unique shape that has the sculptor drilling a hole into their bust’s eye.

But after a long and arduous process, it becomes clear that the payoff is worth it. Anna states there is a certain permanence to stone carving that is not shared by other forms of art. And who can disagree? Her works are composed of one of the hardest substances on the planet!

Anna Rubincam sculpts more than just severed heads of people. She does sculptures of drapery, different styled paperweights, and other human body parts. You can see more of her works on her website here.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.