The early Cherokee created some of the longest lasting and some of the most culturally connected artwork we have ever known. By scratching lines in stones as large as a house they were able to create maps with images that reflected the world and things within and upon it, at the same time stone carving as we think of it today was also being created. Small carvings on stone beads and small sculpture for jewelry were as popular thousands of years ago as they are today. In the past, artists would have used stone tools made of flint. Today, many modern Cherokee use a variety of old and new tools, and ways of working the stone. Pipestone and soapstone are found throughout Cherokee country and today many artists reflect the same stories and images in the stone that were used by our ancestors.
Artists will sometimes plan a work in stone by having an idea of what they want to create. Other times the shape, color, and texture of the stone will influence the carving. Cherokee artists will often work as a small as an inch high with life like realism, other sculptures are very large and every size in between. Many things in the past that were made from stone were used on a daily basis. Containers for cooking and preparing food, tools and weapons, toys and jewelry were often reflections of a person’s way of life.
Stone carvings in the past were often made by skilled artists using cutting edge technology. Today most stone carvings are purely works of art to be enjoyed by looking at them and wearing them.
Old tools used were gravers made of flint and other hard stones, and some cold hammered copper tools. Grinding and abrasion were common ways of working stone, often rubbing a softer stone with a hard stone or sand.
New tools include metal tools, air tools, and electrical tools