Lori Ann Brass

About Tail of a Stone Carver’s Dream

Tim Dibble

Tim Dibble

I was first drawn to Tim Dibble when I read about his work as a stone carver making headstones the old-fashioned way — by hand. Anyone who has designed a monument for a relative will remember flipping through pages of cookie-cutter ivy leaves and roses. When I called Tim to ask about his work, I discovered the breadth of his work. He is a sculptor, whose latest project is carving a whale tail from a six-ton slab of white marble. I tried to imagine what six tons of marble looked like, and I couldn’t wait to see it.

When I finally met Tim, who is now 65, I learned that like many of us, he started out yearning to do one kind of work, but family, children and the practicalities of life got in the way. That had happened to me as well, and I knew his story would resonate with others.

Sometimes, there are moments during an interview when you can’t wait to share with others what you’ve just heard. That moment came when Tim and I were standing on the second floor of the Brewster Store, where he had spent eight years as manager – eight years of his life not working as an artist. Tim described how he had kept an art studio right where we were standing. One night, he started carving his first piece of stone and knew immediately this was what he wanted to do. Tim described what it felt like to carve in stone. You’ll hear that moment when you listen to the story.

There were two major challenges when I produced the Tim Dibble story; the first was whittling it down to four and a half minutes. There were so many rich details I wanted to share – the rustic conditions Tim works in; how for many years he struggled doing odd jobs to support his family, working as a fisherman and a carpenter. Ironically, I had to sacrifice details of his work carving headstones in the local historic cemetery.

The other challenge was getting good sound that wouldn’t drive away the listener. Tim uses piercingly loud grinders to carve stone, and listeners don’t have the benefit of noise-cancelling headphones.

I felt especially fortunate to have Tim Dibble as the subject for my first radio story. He is fulfilling his dream now to work fulltime as an artist. I feel fortunate as well to be telling stories, this time, as an independent radio producer.

Lori Ann Brass photo

Lori Ann Brass

About Lori Ann Brass

Lori Ann Brass started her career in print journalism and worked for The Tampa Times, FIGARO in New Orleans and the Dallas Morning News. She left journalism and worked in hospital public relations and for a short period, lobbied for hospital indigent care funding. In the intervening years, she never lost her love of a great story, and like Tim Dibble, she is now doing what she’s always wanted to do, which is to tell great stories. Lori Ann lives in Woodbridge, Connecticut.

Lori Ann is a member of AIR.

You can hear more of Lori Ann’s work on PRX.