I started this blog stating that I would be looking back over the past few years in my first posts. Well here we are on yet another cold and snowy day, and my thoughts are turning back to last winter. We had much of the same problems last winter with the weather. Both years we started a project late in the fall, and had to basically take a break for a month or more due to extreme cold and snow. Both projects were on a North face and received little or no sunshine, ensuring that the snow would never melt. And both sites were extremely windy. However, last winter there was one thing I did differently; I attended the Stone Foundation's yearly Symposium in Ventura, Ca (http://stonefoundation.org). This experience was one of the highlights of my career. Getting to spend almost a week with masons, sculptors, stone carvers, and stone enthusiasts from around the country and the world renewed and fueled my passion for stone masonry in a way that I never could have imagined. Other masons gave presentations basically all day for four days, and while most people might have found this boring (I normally fall asleep during presentations), I was riveted, glued to my seat taking notes so I could bring the knowledge back to share. While I did learn some information about technique and design, the true inspiration came from knowing that there are others out there like myself. Meeting older successful masons gave me something to strive for and gave me role models who I could sit down and have a beer with at the end of the day. Unfortunately this year I did not have the finances to attend the symposium, and I know I missed a great experience. There is nothing more humbling and motivational than to sit in a room of your peers and masters of your craft and realize that you still have so much to learn. I think that knowing there is always room for improvement in my work is what keeps me going and what makes my work so challenging. Each day I strive to be better, faster, cleaner, and provide better customer service than the previous day. So here's to hoping for this year to be our best yet!
Franklin Smith, owner Living Stone Masonry and general stone enthusiast