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The Stone Shaper

March 2, 2011

Monumental presence

Leaving Mariscal Cactus & Succulent Nursery, we were on a dual mission: first, find that Mexican restaurant the plant seller said was so good, then visit a stoneyard we’d passed with what appeared to be some monumental stone sculptures behind its fence. We lunched, then dashed back, fearing the place would close before we got there … happily, we made it; I wouldn’t have been able to stand the disappointment of not satisfying my curiousity about the sculptures if we hadn’t. Pulling up to the gate we picked up a brochure which explained that the mammoth stones were the work of artist Roger Hopkins. We couldn’t wait to get a closer look, so we continued down the long driveway, pulling up to the amazing sight above: a grouping of what looked like Neolithic stele with glyphs carved into them! Getting out of the car, with the icy desert wind and raindrops stinging our faces, it felt like we were in another, more-primitive, world … and we were surrounded by gargantuan stones hewn into a fantastic array of shapes and sizes!


I was astonished by this precisely cut, yet rugged, corkscrew column made of basalt. Elegant on a massive scale, it’s a visually exciting combination of rough surface patina combined with smooth stonecutting. This is clearly the work of a master stone carver. Not surprising, since Hopkins has been shaping both native and imported stone and desert boulders since relocating to Southern California in 1999. This piece, and those in the opening picture, would be dramatic focal points in any landscaping or garden scheme … their decorative qualities indisputable. But, as commanding as these decorative accents are, Hopkins has a real affection for shaping stone into functional accents for both inside and out.

Form, function

Fountains, basins, benches, bathtubs, seating, hot tubs, firepits, they’re all within Hopkins’ skill set and he welcomes specific commissions. Primitive spiral glyphs are all hand-carved and have an irresistible attractiveness about them … running my fingers in the carved grooves is a sensual feel-good moment. Other pieces feature smoothly polished areas that provide not only gorgeous visual accent but also the requisite smoothness for comfortable seating. Still others, like the gold-bronze egg, have had areas accented with metal, lending them a subtle color and shine. Neither Hopkins or anyone else was on-site during our visit so we weren’t able to ask about cost … but I think this might be one of those “if you have to ask — you can’t afford” them situations … and I shudder to think what the cost to have a piece delivered would be! Still, they’re so primally beautiful I can’t stop thinking about them …


Hopkin’s stone-shaping studio is part of a larger rock and building supply yard, and pulling up to it there’s an ‘enter at your own risk’ sign on display … probably good advice when actual stone shaping is happening. There’s a monstrous stone slicer that is pretty mind-boggling, but makes perfect sense when considering the size of these pieces. Although I don’t remember seeing them, I’m sure cranes and other hoists must be used here, too, being that the tallest of these basalt columns must be at least 20-feet tall! Altogether: pure amazement! We were enjoying ourselves but it was just too cold and rainy to stay any longer and we headed back to the gate … the workers in the rock yard obviously felt the same since they’d closed in the meantime. Pushing the heavy metal gate open so we could head back out onto Dillon Road, I knew I’d return soon … I have questions about price and want to have a closer look … and Paul’s looking forward to asking if he can root around in their scrap heap (such a dreamer) …

Click here for Roger Hopkins Stone Sculptor’s website. The studio is located at 65005 Dillon Rd., Desert Hot Springs, CA, 92242. It’s recommended that you call before visiting, as Hopkins isn’t always on-site; (760) 409 2210

In the video that follows, Hopkins (using the name Count Rockula) offers a 10-minute tour of his studio:




20 Comments leave one →
  1. Mrs. Monstera permalink
    March 2, 2011 5:59 am

    Yet another place I didn’t know existed! See, this is why I love your blog!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 2, 2011 1:20 pm

      Thanks, Mrs… but this is another just-by-chance find. My favorite kind!

  2. March 2, 2011 8:18 am

    Passions drive all of us. Some for better, some for worse. I steer mine in to a medium that shapes me as I shape it. I have deep interactions with each of my sculptures yet I am loathed to name them or explain them.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 2, 2011 1:24 pm

      Thanks for commenting. I agree with your point completely and your choice to neither name or explain. Now, how may I see your work?

  3. March 2, 2011 9:52 am

    Wow! What great work!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 2, 2011 1:25 pm

      These sculptures are wesome, in the truest sense of the word!

  4. mattisalomaki permalink
    March 2, 2011 3:44 pm

    Definitely looks like a trip worth taking. Enjoy the Constantin Brancusi feel to some of the pieces where there’s no definition where the art stops and the landscape begins. Matti

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 2, 2011 3:47 pm

      Wouldn’t it be fun to design something and have it made?! I’m crazed over the idea but probably would have to take a second mortgage on the Rancho to afford it ;(

  5. March 3, 2011 2:58 am

    Wow, these are fabulous..they would look pretty ridiculous in my garden but if I had a big ole’ swath of medit plants , or a giant bed of Aloes..oooh la-la ! Good eye Rueben…

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 3, 2011 3:15 am

      Sometimes the combination of riding shotgun and being excessively nosy really pays off!

  6. March 3, 2011 6:31 am

    you discover the most amazing, unknown places!! i can’t wait to tell my friend who is into rock carving!!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 3, 2011 6:53 am

      Found through pure luck … and craigslist; the unbeatable combo!

  7. March 10, 2011 5:57 am

    Count Rockula…oh groan… But I do like the work, especially the pieces like the first standing stone that look like they formed around some paleozoic sea anenome. Very cool and earthy!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 10, 2011 6:06 am

      Count Rockula is a groaner but I have to say seeing the work, then the artist (in the video), I enjoyed the seeming paradox of Hopkins being just a ‘regular guy’ creating these elegantly massive sculptures. Truly amazing pieces; especially that ‘anemone’ fossil piece … what I wouldn’t give to have that one gracing my property!

  8. AlgaRythums permalink
    October 5, 2011 9:41 pm

    I have to tell you. I started on a backwards tour of your blog, because you had an image of these rocks in your header. I love these. Oh, and I’m a fan of succulents also. I frequently google images of succulents just to relax. Thanks for your fun blog. I will probably be bugging you for a little while yet. 🙂

    • reubix1 permalink*
      October 5, 2011 9:56 pm

      I’m happy you’re reading back, brings back memories now … I find succulents relaxing and beyond-beautiful, so I understand your feelings … and, bug away!

      • AlgaRythums permalink
        October 5, 2011 10:11 pm

        Thanks for being so nice! Yes… It was a quest to find the rocks, but now I’m hooked. I love all your fun stuff. I’ll have to read all the way back to the beginning. Oh and I love your Rancho Reubidoux.

      • reubix1 permalink*
        October 5, 2011 10:16 pm

        Enjoy! and thanks…

  9. March 25, 2012 6:36 am

    We have just discovered Roger Hopkin’s work, it’s truly amazing! Thanks so much for this post, we are unable to see his work in the flesh as we live in Greece!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 25, 2012 1:48 pm

      Roger’s work is something to see and needs to be experienced close up to have the full effect. Those stones have real presence …. I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures!

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