When we see a beautiful sculpture which has been so finely carved that it appears to be alive, it gives our senses great pleasure to behold. Rarely though, are we privy to what it was before it's transformation, nor the countless hours of absolute co-creation between stone and sculptor, willing it to live. I myself believe that every stone has its own life, it's own energy and beauty, regardless of anything being done to it. Each stone has its own unique history of creation reflected in the wonderful patterns, matrices, making it colorful and vibrant! The process of "roughing out" a sculpture on the surface would seem pretty straight forward. The goal, is to create the desired shape from which the details of subject and content can be manifested. As Shakespeare said,"Tis many a slip tweenst a cup and a lip." I just love saying that! When roughing out, there are a few unavoidable variables to consider. Size, is one of the first things to consider because, if the stone is too small you will not be able to carve your subject to the correct scale. Shape is a major consideration because if you are not starting with a stone which is in block form, again it may not hold the size and contours of your subject. The tightness or looseness of the stone's grain, matrices or density is of great importance when considering the detail of your subject matter. If the grain of the stone is loosely organized, the stone may be too fragile to try and carve intricate detail into. If the stone is too hard and tight grained, it may only allow for large scale sculpting with specialized tools. There can be many combinations of hard, fragile, loose or tight grain. Thats where sensitivity and practice come in. Also, the more differing types of stone that you work with, the more experience you will gain in understanding the nuances, properties of each stones matrices. This knowledge will give you insight into what design concepts and carving methods/tools to use. Detail at least for me, is a process of starting with a raw form of whatever subject I choose, then consistently carving the stone down to facilitate each new detail. In essence, each part of the subject is its own sculpture. Scale (size) perspective, proportion, symmetry or balance are but some of the aspects of detail to consider, particularly if your sculpture is going to be a representative work. For representative sculptors, correctness of detail is imperative...does it look like what its supposed to be. The closer one gets to the finished work does the finished work stand up to the scrutiny of the one getting closer or does it cease to represent? Detail, also provides for an important element of Art, that being rhythm. Art, is like music to the eyes. If the visual rhythm of your work is flat and lifeless, it may not hold the attention of the one viewing it. However, continuity of detail can hold the interest, indeed, create interest! I kind of look at detail like, zooming in with a magnifying lens or microscope. In fact, as I am carving detail, eventually I put on my magnifying loops and get even closer to the fine detail. Fine detail is the underlying support for the detail the naked eye perceives at a further distance. Fine detail could also be grouped with finish work. Finish work, in a representative genre, is so important. No matter what genre you would carve in, finish work is the indicator of an artist's experience and technical ability. The more you study detail, the easier it will become for you to choose your genre, your stone properties and the tools/techniques needed for your sculpture. Some might say that the Devil is in the details. I would prefer to say that it is the details which provide more visual information and add clarity and continuity to intended concept of your work. Have fun with this ...sculpting is an incredible teacher and journey which leaves visual proof of the experiences had. Enjoy the trip!