As a senior in my final weeks of college, I am frequently asked the dreaded question: “What are you doing next year?” While I do not have an answer yet, I can now say with certainty that a career in stone carving is out of the question.
Sculptor and master stone carver Simon Verity recently paid the Nasher Museum a visit to lecture about the basic stone carving process and to lead a hands-on demonstration. This visit was closely tied to my group’s independent research project focusing on the use of computer vision to study chisel marks on stone surfaces. Having read volumes on different types of stones and carving methods, I was most excited about seeing how the individual tools translated onto the stone surfaces.
The first thing I noticed walking into Simon’s presentation was his Andy Warhol-esque hairdo. There was a sense of effortless cool in the styling of his silvery white hair that I later realized carried through to both his personality and his work. While I thought the lecture was essential and informative, it was the hands-on portion that really piqued my interest and sealed my stone carving fate.
Stone carving is a lot harder than it seems. Although Simon’s chisel effortlessly gliding across the stone suggests otherwise, the gratifying ping of the hammer meeting the chisel and the large fragments of stone flying at angles does not happen for everyone. I, for one, was stuck with repeated hammering and minimal progress. It certainly takes a lot of practice and skill to master the tools and the process, but perhaps it is time for me to start looking for a different backup plan for next year.
Photos by J Caldwell