The following ramblings are the result of may inquiries I received from visitors to this web site after its formation in 1997


When I arrived in Canada in 1952, the beautiful Inuit carvings in the Hudson’s Bay stores captured my attention but to own one was beyond the reaches of my student budget. Years later, in spring of 1970, a friend invited me to drive with him to Thetford, Quebec to get some soapstone which he needed for a summer class. Jean T. urged me to try my hand at carving. We returned to Ottawa with three blocks of cut soapstone – one block for his classes, two blocks for my use and 350 pounds of cull. A week later I was the proud owner of an Inuit carving. Thus the trip to Thetford marked the beginning of a new career that I fully resumed 24 years later in Whistler, BC.

Thetford Soapstone Block

The soapstone from Thetford, Quebec, is similar in appearance to the rocks that were sent to the Inuit people of Cape Dorset for their carvings in the last century. The unpolished stone has a beautiful blue/gray colour. When polished it turns black, sometimes, white/green veins give it a lovely translucency. Many of my early sculptures were carved in the Inuit style. All of these are in the hands of family or friends except one, the very first sculpture I still have in my studio.


Seal Skinners #

Years later, after I had finished carving many sculptures from the original 325 lbs. I discovered that this rock contained asbestos. Therefore, extra precautions have to be taken to avoid inhaling the stone dust.

In 1975 I look for a new supplier and found Gian Carlo Stoneworks in Surrey, BC, who imports Brazilian Soapstone and other rocks from all over the world. His Rocks do not contain asbestos fibers.




In November1993 my friend Charles G. suggested I should sell my sculptures, however, I did not wanted to appropriate the Inuit culture for my own commercial gains. It took a few more months to sink in and my 'Over the Hill' and/or "Third career" started on my 64 birthday. I happened to ski that day on Whistler Mountain, BC. During the first warm-up run I noticed the smooth movements of a snow boarder in front of me. Watching this round ball with a reversed baseball cap on his head, baggy coat, baggy pants and baggy mitts -: “An Inuit on Snow board – that is not stealing culture!

Three snow board sculptors later the "Honeycomb Shredder I" became my first commercial art work and was bought by my friend Charles Grooms, who started the idea in the first place


Honeycomb Shredder I #22

Since February 2.1994 I have been carving whatever comes to my mind. The human form and the motions related to our activities give me the greatest inspiration. Skiers, snow boarders, mountain bikers, kayakers, curlers, wind surfers, ballet dancers provided the movements and sensuality that inspire me.
Of course each artist is inspired and motivated by a multitude of unexpected incidents. On my Link page I have listed over 100 sculptors who reside here in BC. All of them have their own style, ideas, and inspiration and for those future carvers, who do not know where to start these artists might give a gentle shove in the right direction. As for myself the art of the Inuit of northern Canada will always be my imputes. There are two sculptors who helped in my beginnings. These are Shane Smith and/or Michael Binkley'.


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I will never fully conquer the techniques of the trade. Over centuries methods, tools and materials have changed but some basic approaches remain the same. Viewing other artists’ creations is extremely educational. No piece of art is neutral. Each gives new insight and a different message. I learn new techniques by observation and trying to emulate the styles of others. This has been a very rewarding approach. Many years ago I copied some paintings of old masters and these copies are still hanging in our home - they will do - short of the original painting we could never afford. Thus "The Melon Eaters" by "Murillo" as a copy (my first ever) is still enjoyable to look at, while the original hangs in Munich, Germany.

Copy of "The Mellon Eaters", Murillo

Copying some one else's work, has ethical dimensions, but it is regarded as quite an acceptable activity in some European galleries as long as the proper credit is given.  Copying someone else’s art is certainly not original art but hopefully it will turn out to be an expression of good craft/technique and will give enjoyment to the viewer. Using the method of copying taught me a great deal about painting techniques without going to Art School.
Carving stone is an entirely different matter. For the original Inuit imitation I use my imagination and the little knowledge I gained of the Inuit culture during my university years. Later I used photographs as the basis for my sculptural forms. I would try to get the models or dancers to hold a position long enough to take pictures from four perspectives. This makes the carving much easier. Unfortunately, in most situations a photograph of a dancers in rehearsal, snow boarders, skiers, kayakers with their fast movements - leave us with one perspective (if we are lucky), the remainder is left to our creation and imagination.

Here again comes the question of ethics? Is the photography the art? Is the sculpture that follows a copy? Is the intricate position of one or more dancers the art created by the choreographer and the subsequent sculpture a poor “second hand” copy? I don't know!! However, I feel one should give credit in the descriptions of the sculpture and explain to the viewer what was the cause that created the work of art.

The Question of Art vs social and commercial ethics is a dilemma we face everyday to illustrate this,: I have to return to the 325 lbs of soapstone I bought for $25 in Thetford, Quebec in 1970. In 2003, I received an e-mail from a Mr. John Everett, Quebec. He advised me that soapstone from the St. Pierre de Broughton mine in Quebec has no asbestos. However, he rightly states: "It would be ethical to inform the readers that they have their soapstone 'certified asbestos free' - whatever the source" and he continues: "while you're at it, bring to the attention of your readers the potential of child labor in the Brazilian mining industry or just have them 'google' – “Child - labor - mining - Brazil" - I quoted the above correspondence because it makes two very important points. It is easy to get lost in the esoteric of “Art” and “Ethics” when there are equally important commercial/health issues that are being violated every day under the disguise of furthering the arts.


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I was asked about the preparation of the stone. Generally the outlines of the rough stone gives me the idea what it will become. However, most of the time I know what I want to carve and I choose the stone in accordance to the needs – after that the result is a matter of luck. In preparation I look at the stone, choose the top and the bottom, than proceed to level the base of the sculpture. It is easier to work with a flat surface while the rock is rough. With a felt-pen I do a rough outline of the figure on the rock
Various types of stone require different cutting/techniques and /or tools. Harder rock has to be leveled with chisels, grinders or diamond blade saws. Since I carved only in Soapstone and Alabaster in the earlier days I level the base with a good 'old' handsaw. . However, some years ago, I became lazy and bought a second hand butcher band saw, which helps to get my flat base in less then five minutes. Some people use wood saws (big teeth), but I like to keep my fingers intact. At times a diamond blade saw with a cutting edge of 6-inch helps with hard rocks stone. Both power saws require 220 volts and extra space.

Bend saw-Preparing Base of Sculpture

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Originally I carved with chisels, hammer/mallet and rasps followed by laborious sanding with sand paper (#50 to #400). This method requires very careful work. Using a mallet and chisel results in pieces breaking off in an unpredictable manner. The impact of the mallet travels through the stone causing weakness on the opposite side and subsequent fractures where one least expects. These brutal tools have to be handled with discretion. Aside from fractures they can leave compression bruises and other weakness that show up at the polishing stage. Beside the structural problems, the use of mallet and chisel is not very kind to an arthritic shoulders. Thus, I changed my technique.

Grinders and Compressors

I started out with Dremel drills but found that the dust gave them a short life span. The "Professional" drills one sees in hardware stores are not sufficient. They last for one month. Thus, in 1996 I switched to heavy duty Dremel ($300), Foredom ( $500 +) and Black & Decker


Since 1998 new toys made their appearance in my workshop. Although the electric grinder were the first acquisition these were followed by a compressor with a fine air hammer, air chisels and air burrs.


And since a small mobile air compressor has been replaced by a heavy-duty commercial unite which I use for 10 years. Now I have a combination of a Makita 3 Horse power mobile compressor and use with it a large tank (250 Gallon) from the old commercial compressor that gave up the ghost a year ago.


In this regard, it does not pay to go cheap; a minimum of 2 horsepower's compressor is essential in combination with a min. fifty-gallon tank for air volume


Vacuum System

Since I started using power tools in 1999, I have built a vacuum system with a down draft below the work-block, this reduced the dust. It creates a negative air-pressure around the work area. The air bellows are in a special chamber outside the workshop with an easy access for frequent cleaning. For the exhaust system a 1 Hp motor is min. requirement to handle the stone dust.

Work-block with Exhaust pipe below, Bellows, Table-top of Work-block

In spite of the wonderful exhaust system I never work without a mask (with filters), ear protection and an eye shield. Under the ear protection I wear earphones and listen to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the best radio station in North America).

Mask, Eye-protection, Gloves, Over-all, Ear-phones, Brushes

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Rough Carving

My sculptures are mainly of human figures. After a rough outline on the rock with a felt pen, showing the head, arms, bum and legs, I start the carving with an air chisel.


The outline of the head and shoulders are bulky, leaving a lot of stone for finer grinding later. I continue with the arms, again they are in rough outlines only. While working the rock I constantly rotated it and look at it from different perspectives. By rotation of the rock or moving around it


I avoid cutting too much stone that may be needed later to enhance the appearance of movement/flow of the sculpture. Eventually I will get to the bum and a rough outline of the legs. At this point the stress is over and the fun begins. I start using a number of different pointed burrs and grinders.

The air chisel goes into retirement until the next sculpture


Finer Carving

The work of more careful definition of the carving commences with the third phase. Again, I start from the head to shoulders, the spinal column, back to the arms and then the legs. I have a number of grinding tools hanging from the track above me. Thus I can move quickly from one grinding bit to another. The work progresses much faster and the time of re-tooling is cut to a minimum

Work Station #1 & x #2(partly), Air-lines from ceiling

Again during the fine carving, I switch from one area the rock to another. At this stage there may be a need to lay the sculpture on the side to obtain a better angle of perspective. In order to avoid damage to already finished surfaces, I use sand bags in support for the sculpture. There is a large number of 10 lbs Basaltic Rice bags fill with sand ready for this purpose. Sand bags also help to stabilizing the sculpture. Even at the fine carving, experience tells me that it is helpful not to carve away too much stone in the beginning - it can never be replaced. There is always time to whittle away later.

The carving process takes about 2/3 of the time. After that the tedium of sanding starts


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The job of sanding is hard on the hands and fingernails. I use surgical latex gloves under heavy leather gloves. Before I start the sanding I use a rasp to get rid of any major depressions or bumps. Then I proceed with #50 grit sandpaper and depending on the stone. I might use steel wool (coarse, medium). After the second sanding with#120 grit I change from dry to wet sanding
The use of steel wool is great on certain non-gritty stones. But a word of caution! – Steel wool it terrible on soft brown and some black stone, because small pieces of the wool get into invisible cracks and the wool grinds down the softer part of the stone away leaving the harder part untouched as pimples. Therefore, I use steel wool with discretion

Some of the tools

To get into the corners and recesses I make small files out of sand paper or with a stick guide the sand paper into the areas that need finishing. Good light is essential in the final stages of this process. I also use a brush (car-wash-brush) and a good soft brush to sweep the dust off the sculpture and to see the scratches that have to be worked. A forced air-nozzle is an indispensable tool for this purpose. The fun in this long job is the anticipation.


A renovation of our kitchen provided me with a nice countertop/sink for my studio. With the sunlight and with the help of plastic water pipes on the roof .I have warm water delivered to the sanding basin.


The final sanding #120 to #400 (extreme cases #600) is done by the wet sanding method.

The beauty of the rock emerges as a reward of the hard labour when the sanding is done. Veins and patterns in the rock are often a pleasant surprise never anticipated. - IT IS EXCITING


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Much has been said about polishing and surely there are a multitude of approaches. My tried methods have been simple. After the sanding I take the sculpture and put it on a stove, or in the oven (if it fits), I slowly heat the sculpture to about 350 degree F. As alternative I use a propane torch and gently with controlled heat warm the sculpture.


Then, I apply wax (floor, -clear shoe polish, -beeswax, etc) that will harden and give sheen once the sculpture has cooled. I repeat the application of the wax or polish every time the stone turns dull (milky) during the cooling process. Lately I have been using ski wax from my skiing days in Whistler. Ski wax is considerably harder than shoe polish and it gives a high glossy shine, while Beeswax gives a matted shine and a lovely fragrance. Old soft rags are great for applying the wax evenly during the cooling process. For buffing an old terry cloth will do


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It is important to look at some statistics. According to the Canadian Government Human Resources report, there were 70,000 creative and performing artists in Canada in 1996. - Statistics Canada, Culture, Tourism and the centre for Education, October 2004 claim that sculptors earned an average of $18,666 per annum. Older statistics claim that the highest-paid artists earned $68,500, while the lowest-paid earned $7,600. Some reports also suggested that the projected employment outlook for fine artists remains poor through and beyond 2008. According to Job Futures, "Government cutbacks in the cultural sector are likely to affect these occupations unfavorably for many years to come".
Despite these negative statistics, I believe, there is an increasing public awareness of the arts. If social dislocations, hostilities and family break-downs continue to rise and job opportunities decrease, governments and/or the private sector will be forced to re-direct more funds into science and art education to create more opportunities and outlets in positive/social activities.

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From my own experience showing my sculpture in conjunction with Ballet BC performances provided a positive diversion for the public during intermissions. Though these displays were not at all lucrative, they served as a means of recognition and positive reinforcement towards the arts.
I would like to suggest that sculpture can enhance public spaces -- parks, bridges, passage-ways, street corners, walls to mention only a few. In the meantime all the above have becoming the target of the “graffiti artists” perhaps this is a start to new public art.

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From my own experience showing my sculpture in conjunction with Ballet BC performances provided a positive diversion for the public during intermissions. Though these displays were not at all lucrative, they served as a means of recognition and positive reinforcement towards the arts.
I would like to suggest that sculpture can enhance public spaces -- parks, bridges, passage-ways, street corners, walls to mention only a few. In the meantime all the above have becoming the target of the “graffiti art” perhaps this is a start to new public art.

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Throughout history artists had to have patrons and only a very few could indulge their art without external help from someone else. Most artists are obliged to work as commercial artists or in a related field. A few fortunate artists are respected in their lifetime and are able to live from their art. Some artists may have income from other sources or they become artists after another career. By far the majority of artists work at regular jobs to put the bread on the table while the creative part of their existence plays itself out in their workshop/garage or studio after working hours. Surreptitiously they maintain their sanity through their art while weekly wages are the means of survival.
My suggestion to an aspiring artist is, "Go for it! If you are happy with what you produce, keep at it. You may become great artist - but remember you have to eat to remain healthy – don’t expect other people to pay your bills”

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Procrastination is a constant struggle for me; new piece takes a real great effort - a commission piece a little less. - There’s always the uncertainly that the sculpture may not turn out the way I envision. I 'am never satisfied with the end product and I believe this dissatisfaction to be universal among artists. Doubtless it has forced many good artists to give up and others into depression. The desire to be perfect is an insurmountable hurdle. In my earlier days I would spend days on one sculpture and sometimes return to it weeks later to make “improvements”. Mike Binkley, a great sculptor (see link page) told me once he is finished with a piece he never goes back to make “improvements”, as such attempts are generally failures! I have found this to be true. Carving is a feeling similar to writing a final examination. Once it is written and handed in the results are final
During the beginning of a new carving the concentration and stress is considerable. One has to think in two and three dimensions all the time. If a piece of stone has been removed it cannot be replaced. There is finality to the game, which some people find difficult to handle.
Artists are akin to hermits. Most are solitary and prefer to work alone. However, once finished with the piece of art artists have to come out of the closet to seek reaction by family members, friends. The fear of criticism, rejection and disapproval of our creations are aspects most artists have difficulties to handle.
For me, the emotional aspects of a career as a sculptor are more important than the economics ones. Nevertheless, I would like to suggest that any beginning artist consider the following attributes as a basic requirement.

  • Willing to reveal oneself
  • Desire to succeed as an artist
  • Striving for perfection as an ideal but seldom attained
  • Patience and perseverance
  • Willingness to take risks (try something new, try something difficult)
  • Ability to accept criticism


This is the most frequently asked question I hear from artists. I can only respond in terms of my own experience. I have tried all the avenues described below


Galleries know how to exhibit art and create the right ambience for a piece of art. Naturally they are in the business to make a profit for themselves and hopefully for their artists. Some artists prefer to sell only through commercial galleries because they feel, they do not have the skill to market their work or they may wish to maintain their privacy. There is a cost of selling in galleries which runs anywhere from 5% to 50% + off the sale price.


A group of artists join together and form a co-operative. This has been a very successful approach for some artists. It requires a great deal of maturity and ‘give and take’ to hold the group together. I have had good success with my annual “Art in the Garden” shows 1996 –2002 (Whistler and Quad ra Island). The key to the success is a good selection of artwork, careful displays, ambience (flowers, music etc) and a good location. A word of caution -- considerable effort has to be put into finding inexpensive advertisement that leads to maximum exposure. A two day event requires much planning at least three or four months, preferentially 6 month to a year in advance.
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Art shows and competitions are an excellent way to get exposure and become known in the art world. There are many art shows and high-end craft fairs that merit consideration. Juried art shows are prestigious and generate a high level of excitement. I recommend juried art show anytime.

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A small brochure with a few pictures of the artwork and a brief informative write up (resume) is a very good way to generate awareness of one’s existence as an artist. A good map with directions to the studio is always helpful. Brochures should be placed in strategic locations -- hotels, information booths, etc.


These are a few of my ramblings I hope, you the reader found them of help. Greetings and good luck.

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