I understand you are not singling me out for a lecture.
Well, Andrew, this time I am singling you out for a lecture, but
it’s not alecture. I’ll write here because there are lots of people
in your boat - you’d be surprised.
First, go out and meet some people - there’s a rock-hound or
lapidary club somewhere nearby almost everybody, for one. Church,
yoga, cooking, wine, quilting - there’s always some ways for people
to find each other. Try these:
Me, I’ve found rock hounds and amateur lapidaries to be some of the
friendliest, most down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet.
Lyndon Tsosie are THE BEST.
You’re very fortunate to have known any Tsosie - an incredibly
talented family there.
and I can carve wood and metal for toys and things...
I have to have a rolling mill to make regular silver shapes, but
then I hear others tell me just to learn to forge by hand and no
worry so much,
That comes in right near milling your own wheat and slaughtering
your own hogs and curing your own hams in usefulness. Find another
solution - see below.
I'm also overwhelmed by the sheer magnificence of other people's
art... I know I can't possibly approach it even if I spent a
lifetime at it,
And your point is exactly… We went to a
Pixardisplay last weekend - there were some 30 small sculptures in
resin of all the famous characters, some had multiples with
character/emotion/motion studies. They were a level of perfection
that made my humble sculpting and carving skills look childish. But
to me, it’s something to strive for, and at my age I’ll never get to
that level, either. They do what they do, I do what I do and we all
get along just fine.
sometimes I don't see how I can find my own niche completely by
You can’t - you can’t really do anything meaningful in life by
yourself - clip your fingernails, I guess. The above are just some
offhand remarks bout the quotes, but I’ll write some things for
There was a time when I found a clean scap of lumber - 2x12 fir,
about 2 feet long. I had access to some chisels, so I carved it. I
gave to the guy who was letting me sleep on his couch in lieu of
rent. You do what you can do with what you have, whether it’s a
little or a lot. Most importantly, you have to use the skills you
have - learn more, of course, but Andrew says he can make toys and
carving. So make toys… Maybe sell some, maybe make some money
to buy some silver or tools. Step by step, leg by leg you hopefully
rise to a better place. Maybe that sounds cliched, but it’s true and
it’s what everybody here is doing and/or has done.
It’s tough to make a living in art of any kind, and you MUST have
something - talent, skill, ability, portfolio to earn a living at
it. But you can play to your heart’s content and maybe sell some
stuff or get some reputation in the process.
Little by little, it comes if you keep at it. You don’t need to get
where I am (anybody), you just need to keep going in your own way.
There was, truly, a time when I didn’t know how to use a torch
either. Take what you have - carving - and start there, doing things
and getting better at it. Other things will come.
Silver… 3 ounces of silver is not very much, when you turn it
into jewelry. Six or ten pieces, depending. Even three pieces, if
you work like that. Since turning ingots into something useful is
outside your realm, don’t try to. Sell it and buy mill products or
trade it if you can.
And brass and copper are much more difficult to work (mostly to
solder, really), but they are cheap and you can toy around with it
until you figure out what you want to do.
As for what to do - take what I have done in painting and just do
it. Blank canvas, what to paint, well I could do ~that~ PAINT IT!
Andrew, carve a horse. Make a horse toy, then make a dog, then make
a dog toy. Get one of your stones and make a wooden ring or pendant
for it - how? You figure it out, you’re the artist. That experience
will give you 10 ideas of what to do different or better, and doing
each of those ideas will give you ten more.
Finally, if Andrew is really a carver, maybe he’d be better of
working wax and getting castings anyway… Wax is cheap and
simple tools will do the trick.