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Alex Murray

Stonecutting and Sculpting

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Q. When did you discover that you had a passion for stone cutting?

A. I discovered my love for stonecutting in college. Fortunately, I had the freedom to explore other mediums, but very few colleges, if any have trained stone craftsmen.

Q. What is the stonecutting market like in Vermont?

A. The stonecutting market in Vermont is excellent if you can break into it. The town I live in, Barre, the granite capital of the world, which has a lot of granite manufacturing plants which do all kinds of work from sculpting to cutting granite manufacturing plants which do all kinds of work from sculpting to cutting granite and marble for monuments/buildings. Many of the craftsmen in Barre have been carving their entire lives and some have even studied in Italy or are from Italy originally. It is very hard to compete.

Q. What is a typical day at work for you?

A. A typical day of work starts at 6:50 am and runs approximately to 3:30 pm. Because I am in the union, everything is done to a T. Work can be very chaotic depending on the jobs coming through at the time. You have to be very attentive because of the bridge crane and big blocks of granite which are constantly moving through the shed. There is a lot of practical geometry used in the stonecutting trade plus you must be quick. 

Q. Do you have a studio or workspace?

A. I have my own studio when I have jobs commissioned/subcontracted out to me. I pay by the hour to rent studio space when needed, otherwise I work on the clock. I moonlight jobs whenever possible.

Q. How do you promote, market or publicize your services?

A. I try to promote/market my services as much as possible within the granite industry. A lot of jobs are done on a handshake with no formal contract or proposal (unless it is very large job). Most people don't realize the time commitment that goes into these works. People always ask why I don't have a business card... well chisels and diamond saws are very expensive! I have to itemize all the time and watch my spending very carefully!

Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?

A. In five years I will most likely still be in Barre trying to make a living. I would very much like to get to Italy to study, but time and money is always an issue!

Q. What advice do you give to other folks trying to break into the stonecutting field?

A. My advice to anyone who wants to pick up the trade of stonecutting is to keep your chisels sharp and your ears open. Don't ever get cocky and always listen and respect the old timers. They will show you everything you need to know, but you have to ask the right questions. Keep with it. It will take you years to get where the masters are today.

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