Meet the Last Surviving Stone Cutter
This is Lloyd Livernash. He is a stone cutter. No longer by trade, but deep in his heart.
At 88 years of age, Lloyd is the last surviving stone carver of the Walker Cut Stone Co.
In the 1950s, when cement took over dominance as the material in the building trades Lloyd had to give up what he loved to do: cutting columns and critters out of sandstone from Wilkeson, Washington. At least as a full-time occupation. He became a school teacher and still managed to take on some jobs as a stone carver here and there.
Lloyd began with the Walker Cut Stone Co in 1949 after serving in the Marine Corps Reserve. But he almost didn’t get the chance.
The shop manager, Philipp Michel, took a liking to him — even after Livernash flunked his first test.
“He drew me a fig leaf and said, ‘Carve it,’” Livernash recalled. “I tried carving it. It didn’t look like anything.”
Fortunately it worked out and he worked and learned the trade alongside 8 other stone workers.
The work included the actually building structures as well as the decorative carvings.
Making a complicated carving involved several steps. First, a model was made in clay. Then, a plaster of Paris cast was made and used to make another model out of plaster of Paris.
Lloyd would then reproduce the image, carving it out of stone using an air hammer and other tools.
This stone cutter was part of a long tradition of artists and craftsmen going back thousands of years.
Much of his work still stands. The owl pictured below was one of a pair that reside on a dormitory at University of Puget Sound.
He also carved more architectural elements and helped repair buildings in Olympia after the earthquake in 1949.
While working as a teacher, he got some part-time jobs carving elements for local cathedrals. Whether carving figures of the Holy Family or cutting columns, his work is sure to live on long the last stone cutter. And that suits him just fine.
Read the complete article by Craig Sailor on the News Tribune, here.
Photos by Lui Kit Wong of the News Tribune.