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What I've Learned, | May 01, 2017

Bill Holladay, limestone carver


This Bloomington artisan says passion is more important than perfection.


Bill Holladay, 60, says he has always been a creative person. For 25 years he wrote for the Indiana University Foundation and has long had an affinity for baking. But he had never considered himself an artist  – until he found limestone carving. Holladay fell in love with the medium after he took an introductory class from Bloomington’s John Waldron Arts Center in 1998 and attended the Indiana Limestone Symposium a few years later. He’s been back every year since and shares a few things he’s learned from working with Indiana’s famous rock.

Don’t be timid; there is no such thing as perfection.


I've learned to just go for it, because life is short. The more you worry about trying to be perfect, the less you'll actually accomplish. Sometimes being good enough is what you need to do. Around here, there is always more stone, so there’s no need to be so intimidated. 

Stone carving is accessible.

You don't have to be able to lift 300 pounds of stone to be able to carve it. There are all these little-bitty women who weigh maybe 120 pounds going after these 1,200-pound blocks of stone and carving them into something cool. People think that it would take a lot of muscle, but it really doesn't. It just takes control. 

Limestone carving is a big community.


We're all exploring this together—there's people who've been doing this for most of their lives, there's people like me who are still kind of bumbling their way through it, and then there's people who have hardly ever picked up a chisel before. But it turns out that when people know you're interested, they are incredibly generous. Being in this really supportive atmosphere, you don't feel like you're alone. 

Everybody is an artist. 


I do think that to really be happy, we all need to have some creative outlet. I don't care what it is, if it gets your creative juices going, then that's an art form for you. Don't assume that because you haven't found a medium that works for you that that means that you're not artistic. I may not be a great artist, but I have an artistic activity I enjoy.

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