I have always been a person who likes to take things apart and find what lies hidden inside. Maybe that is what draws me to carve stone: the idea that there is something within waiting to be released. I have been hesitant to call myself a sculptor. Sculptors are those other people. I do this as a hobby, but by creating sculptures I have slowly been able to accept the idea that yes, I am a sculptor.
This transformation has taken me most of ten years, about 18 sculpture symposiums, and about 30,000 miles of driving. Almost always, John Thompson, my friend and the person who started me down this path, has been right there in the truck helping with driving, loading, talking, and listening. Through the years, going to and coming home from these camps, we have talked and dreamed of what next. How could we start a studio, work stone year-round, feed off each other’s ideas and excitement, and maybe even teach others?
Not long after returning from stone carving camp at Suttle Lake last August, the dream came true. This fall, a friend rented us a space. We now rent a two-thousand-square-foot heated space with good lighting, a large air compressor, and a forklift, all at a rate that two hobbyists can afford. It is still a work in progress, as our friend has run a business out of there for 30 years, so he is gradually sorting and moving his items out, but we are in, have started working, and are loving it. The studio has a nice room in the front in which we hope to develop a showroom and meeting area.
The transition into studio life brings anticipation of developing more detail in my work. Working primarily at symposiums has forced me to do sculptures that can be finished during the week there. Now I am looking at taking on more complex things that carving two to three times a week will allow me to finish. Currently, I am working on a piece of Montana marble. I am also trying my skills at facial detail on Colorado Marble. In addition, I have set up a Kansas limestone fence post. It is wonderful to have several pieces available to work on as the inspiration strikes.
This last year I transformed a landscape rock into an elephant and am excited to work more with so-called scrap rock. One of my favorite pieces from my past work is a vase formed from laminated scrap granite countertop. I hope to do more of this and even work on a water piece out of stacked countertop material.
I know that I would not be where I am today without all of the time spent at NWSSA stone carving symposiums. The friends I have met and learned from offer words of advice and the gifts of time, tools, and equipment. The process of carving is full of surprises, whether it is John Fisher teaching the art of profile carving, or MJ taking the time to stop my carving and have me put my tools aside, close my eyes, and place my hands on my sculpture to let my hands teach me what my eyes could not see. Try it—you will be surprised.
The future promises endless possibilities. Just imagine going from carving one or two weeks a year to carving two or three days a week! Ending the day of carving with a craft beer and a great friend—it doesn’t get better than that.