Soapstone is a wonderful medium for carving and is often used to create visages of animals.
Because the stone is relatively soft, it ranks 1 out of 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Its low density makes it a perfect medium for scratching line designs. The stone must first be shaped and polished to provide a clean work space for the finished design. This process can also include a coating of beeswax, not only bringing out the color of the stone but adding a small layer of protection. The desired image is then painstakingly scratched through any protective coating into the surface of the stone. The piece displayed here depicts a traditional scene. The artist is from the Northwest Canadian Coast, and you can see his signature on the bottom corner of the stone.