Can your art stand the test of time?
It’s CARV’D, founded and operated by SUNY New Paltz graduate Andra Roig, immortalizes designs of all kinds into rock. Roig’s beautiful garden art can withstand the elements to last multiple lifetimes.
In addition to priceless illustrations, Roig uses steel and carbide chisels to carve logos, lettering, and any other design that can be conceived into slate. For pieces destined to live outside, he cuts deep enough to ensure that letters stay just as sharp with 50 years of acid rain and corrosion as they were the day he carved them. Patrons also get a collection of photos detailing the process that brought their design to life.
Roig puts exactly what is given to him into slate, not just a replication. A meaningful poem, a first attempt at art, or a character born of a child’s imagination is elevated into something long-lasting.
“Part of my business plan is taking kids’ sketches, maybe something they’ve done during the pandemic, and carving them by hand into stone. It’s pretty surreal that they’re going to be around for hundreds of years,” Roig says.
Custom designs for slate carvings were always at the core of Roig’s idea for It’s CARV’D, but offering a way to preserve children’s drawings came when his own son, Max, brought him an adorable pencil rendering of Marvel’s Iron Man.
Many parents can relate to the experience of receiving a piece of artwork that might get thrown away or put in a box or folder and forgotten. Roig wanted to turn the moment into a living memory and, along with the drawing, carved his son’s name, age, and the date into a scrap piece of stone. Now, memories that feel fleeting can last forever.
Though the products live many lifetimes, the art itself is dying.
“Most of what I’ve learned honestly has been from books. There are very few — maybe less than a dozen — stone artisans that carve slate and cut letters by hand in America,” Roig says. “I’m honored to be one of the only people in the country to use the old-school methods and, in my research, the only person of color in the field.”
Roig perpetuates a tradition about as old as the human race itself. He stumbled upon the lost art while taking a graphic design class in college. One of his professors had the students paint typography onto stone and then carve it. “Everyone in the class was like, ‘What the heck is this? I’m going to be a graphic designer that works on computers and he wants us to carve stone,’” Roig recalls.
After some time, Roig picked it up and found the medium to be fascinating. In a way, it’s high-risk art. There is no way to hide mistakes, and every mark you make on the canvas is permanent; so permanent, in fact, that it will outlive the artist.
He took the form with him to the Bronx after he graduated college and carved small stones for friends as gifts. His entire apartment was covered in a layer of dust from his manic chiseling. Eventually, he put away his mallet and chisel in a box, where it stayed for the next 15 years. He got married, moved back to the Hudson Valley, and had three children.
While moving boxes in his house one day, Roig heard a rattle. He once again pulled out his beloved tools, and he hasn’t put them away since. Lucky enough, a stone quarry is only two miles from his new home. It’s CARV’D is a business born out of the pandemic, the perfect setting for spending long hours working on projects at home.
It also wasn’t the only project Roig started during the COVID-19 crisis. Fathers are often seen as the rock of their family, but they need support as well.
A friend of Roig’s spent some time in the hospital at the height of the pandemic and was deeply traumatized by the death and suffering he witnessed.
“When my friend got out, he said, ‘Andra, you were the only one that I could talk to while I was in the hospital. I thought I was going to die, and I had no one around, no community to support me,’” Roig explains. “That’s when I knew we had to do something for the dads in the Hudson Valley.”
Wine Wednesdays, Facebook gardening groups, and online parenting resources are primarily aimed at mothers. For all the dads quarantining at home, Roig wanted to foster a new community.
Fathers Love, Fathers Heal started as a weekly Zoom call to make sure dads in the area had the resources they needed to support their families throughout the pandemic. The group started a free gardening club (online Mondays at 7 p.m.) to teach fathers how to grow their own food if family members were immunocompromised and couldn’t risk going to a grocery store.
Slowly, the group has grown into a larger community that supports the development of local businesses, connects people with mental health resources, and highlights outstanding parents in the Hudson Valley and beyond. For its spotlight series, Roig wrote about Salahadeen Betts, the director of Harlem’s County Cullen Community Center, an example of what a pillar in the community should look like.
Programming continues to increase and diversify, with a small business network developing. Roig wants to be the type of father his kids can look up to, and he’s succeeded.
“It’s CARV’D is not just me carving into stone. I’m carving an idea, a foundation, and inspiration into something that unless you try to physically destroy it, it won’t be destroyed,” Roig says.