“ I gotta tell you, Clint. I’ve been carving stone for at least 20 years- trying to learn on my own, from books, some workshops, really any way I could. After all that, I’ve learned more here from you in 15 or 20 minutes than I’ve learned everywhere else in the past 15 or 20 years. This is simply amazing.” Phillip N., Sculptor
Within a changing commercial market, it is increasingly difficult to secure a traditional apprenticeship in a trade such as sculpture or stone carving. The modern student’s intent is too often to learn in order to teach, write or go viral versus employing the actual work for a livelihood. The fine line between selling out for simple income versus legacy & heritage preservation can make seasoned veterans selective when investing in their heirs. Training the next generation properly honors the Masters who endowed their knowledge upon the former novice. So it must be done.
A quick search of “stone carving tools” for sale or sculpture “how-to” videos on the internet is sobering. Improper tools, nearly new tools already retired, incorrect and simply ridiculous methods abound. Indeterminate abstract work cannot be qualified as success or failure. Romantic visions of carving Carrara marble al fresco in Pietrasanta, Italy lead a quest for mystical innate ability that is easily discovered or internalized by simple association. What is learned is that fluency takes more than a brief effort, no matter how many times one invokes or mispronounces the name Michelangelo.
Misconceptions about apprenticeship and employment further complicate the process. In the past, candidates largely surrendered both their bodies and realized income without recourse or guarantee in exchange to grow in the craft. Ten years of training was considered realistic for an average carver to become a viable, profitable employee. To be a sculptor took longer. Legal constraints, the plague of self and the evolving international marketplace dictate a different approach than was possible even a decade ago. Opportunity still exists to step directly into this world, but that is the exception- not the rule.
The enduring truth is stone does not submit to words, imagination or entitlement. It yields to the one who strikes it. Truth is revealed as riddles are solved to reveal more riddles. Another truth is many Italian Masters came to America to sculpt and carve while training men like Sculptor AC Button II so they could train others.
“ This remains one of the most visited pages on this site. The desire to learn brings people like you here. What do you want to do- surf the internet or cut stone? ♦ Decades ago, when I sought to learn, finding a viable studio and willing Master Sculptor was the first great challenge. In finding this page, you’ve overcome part of that obstacle. Transitioning from the virtual to the tangible remains. ♦ The second great challenge was proving myself- first as worthy to be an employed carver and then as a successful independent sculptor in my own studio. There was no free ride. There still isn’t. Generosity for generosity. Equity for equity. Money is a tool. It is both means and barrier to many things, much like chisel and stone committed to the sculpture process. Gain requires loss, believing less can become more. If it’s all about money, this is the wrong pursuit for you. People call from around the world wanting guaranteed employment before even coming to studio. They expect me to hire them sight unseen and reveal all simply because they “love” stone. That makes no sense. ♦ My goal is to become a Master Sculptor. My Master Sculptors taught me that goal will always be one stone away from now. Success as an Author, Tool Salesman, Workshop Instructor, Teacher, Speaker or Internet video star is not what I seek. Teaching those who come to you- on their own accord- as you work was one of the first lesson my Masters taught me. By doing this, others will learn the same lessons and keep this work alive.“ AC Button II, Sculptor
Proper apprenticeship remains the cornerstone of professionalism and career achievement. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 Learning in a correctly equipped professional working studio with immediate access to proper tools and methods is vastly different than a typical art-oriented workshop or insular academic setting, where money is earned selling theory and tools, not finished sculpture. Do you want to learn to be a teacher or to be a sculptor?
Select Individuals seek to learn in a more traditional manner at Carolina Sculpture Studio. Instruction is adapted accordingly. Dedicated one-on-one apprenticeship is one option; less formal group sessions are another. Before you buy tools or build your studio, come work in a real one.
Instructional opportunities are available for all ages, including-
Modeling methods applicable to a wide variety of media including stone, bronze and more
- Traditional design and composition development in 2D and 3D
- Maquette production in plastic media such as plastilina, wax or earth clays
- Plaster casting and model production utilizing waste or reusable molds
Sculpture and Carving techniques
- Professional Carving techniques, including Hand-driven work and power tools
- Sketching and Practice techniques in analogous media
- Direct Carving without models, ranging from abstract to realistic compositions
- Indirect Carving to accurately reproduce models in any scale, including
- Employing the Pointing Machine or la Machinetta di Punta for 1:1 scale projects or
- The Proper use of Compasses or Calipers for differential scale projects utilizing either Right Angle or Isosceles Triangle methods to enlarge, reduce or reverse a model
Operational and Legacy Topics
- Historical trends, awareness and relevance
- Preservation, repair and restoration techniques
- Studio development, including physical plant and virtual considerations
- Tool production and maintenance, including fire steel, carbide and diamond tools
Specific Project assistance and resolution
- Personal art project, commission or restoration- functional or aesthetic
- Production of memorial or monument, to be completed by Sculptor AC Button after initial work by apprentice.
Whenever possible, desired instruction is integrated into relevant daily studio operations. This allows an individual to work side-by-side with a qualified, experienced professional in real time in a working studio, not in an unrealistic environment offered by “intensive” calendar events, rambling esoteric gatherings or academic venues with instructors who earn their living as teachers. Just like every commission, all aspects of instruction vary as they are tailored to each apprentice’s desired results, demonstrated ability & progress, budget and duration in studio.
Every apprenticeship begins with a conversation. Then come to the studio. That’s what I had to do when I started. It changed my life.