When visiting a collector’s home recently, we were discussing the artistic process of sculpting a piece from its earliest conception, when the couple asked, “What if the stone breaks just as you’re at the final phase of finishing the piece?”. Many people — who’ve grasped the tremendous amount of dedication it often takes to bring a stone from its raw form into an expressive entity with its own personality — ask me this question.
When I approach a raw stone, I must be equipped with a variety of tools (beyond the obvious chisels, hammer and sandpaper) and the most important device is my own mindset — my emotional balance and perceptive abilities. I must remain humble. Like a raging river that will prove its power by drowning you, the stone will often remind you that we cannot conquer the power of the natural world. I have to be in dialogue with the stone, and meet it on its terms, with respect.
There’s often an unexpected twist or turn in the conversation with the stone. I’m tapping, tapping the chisel with my hammer. My heart feels full today because the process is heading just where I want it to go. Spring weather is coming and the memory of snow mounds are finally melting. In a short breath, my contentment abruptly deflates. The stone cracked. The upper portion of the piece lays there lifelessly.
I have two options: discard everything into a pile of rubble or continue the conversation. I choose to listen. When I do, I sometimes I find answers where I least expect them. Often, a beautiful piece is born because I’ve remained open to what my conscious mind could not conceive.