When I came into the trade in the early ’80s, every shop I visited took pride in doing their own work. Skills were handed down from generation to generation. Bragging rights were earned by your carving and layout abilities. I received an internship to the Vermont Stone Trade School, where I focused on illustration and carving. Later, I was fortunate enough to study under several elite designers in our industry. It made me realize the commitment it takes to become accomplished in our craft. I founded “The School of Hard Rocks” 15 years ago, partnering with two talented memorialists. We teach basic to advanced techniques in stone working for our trade. It is exciting to see a growing group committed to the craft.
In today’s digital world, it seems everyone is an expert. Yet a growing number of monument companies don’t actually have a shop. The skills required are hands-on and cannot be learned from an online course. If they have never swung a hammer or studied layout and design, how expert are they? Look for authenticity, not claims. Ask to see the work they have done, then look for the dust on their boots.