People that carve in wood often begin with sweet potatoes as their carving medium. These are much less expensive for the aspiring artist to purchase. The resistance to carving is approximately the same as carving softer woods. The new carver is able to learn technique and make mistakes in a less costly material. Once they feel confident in their ability to carve a sweet potato, it is a natural step for them to begin carving wood.
Wood comes in many varieties. Some, such as basswood, are relatively soft and easy to carve. Others, such as oak, are very hard and present difficulties to the carver. Progressing through different types of wood is a good way to build up to harder materials. It is a good rule of thumb that the harder a substance is, the more it will cost. Many artists that are learning to either carve or sculpt do not have money to waste. Becoming adept with sculpting wood is an excellent way to learn while saving money.
Minerals such as soapstone are easy to carve. Because it is mainly composed of talc, soapstone can be carved using wood carving tools. This gives the aspiring sculptor a chance to work with a mineral without purchasing new tools. They have the opportunity to see whether or not they prefer working with stone substances. They will also have the chance to create work that will be permanent. Soapstone is considered a hard mineral and wears well over the years.
Marble and granite are both used by modern sculptors. These materials tend to be expensive, but they have a long life once they are carved. Granite is an especially strong material when being sculpted. It often requires a new set of tools for the artist. Progressing through a variety of materials is a good way to learn if an artist really wishes to become a sculptor in stone materials.