Re: The stoner life...
Understand your problem. Am originally from a DC suburb. Moved 90 miles away from DC to Martinsburg, WV for the reasons: rent/housing too high, would have had to maintain separate addresses (one for studio & one for home), & peace of mind.
Moved here originally for peace of mind. After 2 years quit my full-time job & became an artist 26 years ago.
Have a home with a detached garage & a smokehouse. Detached garage is great because it keeps the mess separate from home. Smokehouse was used for years as a sales showroom before switched mediums & went to larger stone. WV is ideal for an art business even noisy ones. They understand split zoning (your property can be half residential & 1/2 commercial). WV also understands that some people cannot afford or do not want to maintain two addresses - one for business & one for residential.
Up until 10 years ago, location was ideal, close to DC but far enough only interested clients would come here from DC. Now all of my sculpture is leased or sold, all is larger (requires heavy equipment to get off my truck) & I make less sculpture but larger pieces - same amount of work though.
The way you make stone sculpture work is by being diligent. Most galleries will not want your work since it is heavy or perceived as bulky. I find that usually 1 in 50 galleries that I contact are interested in stone sculpture (the group of 50 is screened via websites before the 1st query). Even then it is difficult.
As to being far from suppliers no problem. Every trucking company can stop at my studio door, since I am paying the freight. I buy stone in larger quantities so my price is less & have it shipped in. Have had stone shipped from Utah for years until recently. About 6 years ago bought 10 tons of stone from a quarry in Indiana. Have had as small as a 70 lb chunk sent in by UPS.
As to community of stone carvers not so much. There are communities out there. Never saw much need to join. Partly am not a joiner. Secondly the groups cut into my time (wife, dogs, relaxation & also stone sculpting). Most groups also are focused on the newbie (nothing wrong with that - just not where I am ). So all of the groups have little to offer except criticism & since the community of stone carvers is not buying the artwork, they have nothing to say I am interested in; the client on the other hand who is buying, I am interested in what they have to say.
There are many important things for a person to do or have - to make sculpture work. One is a spouse that is not an artist (translation: they have a regular paycheck & health insurance). Second is a home (hopefully that is paid for; definitely not rented) with a studio in a separate building. The separate building is important because when you cross the threshold of the studio - it is work time.
Finally you need an overdose of diligence to make it work. Diligence in getting & securing work. Diligence in being motivated & having a good attitude, carrying through on promises that you made, and a myriad of other things. But most importantly of all diligence in stepping out of your comfort zone & taking leaps. Hard to do but necessary.
As with most misunderstood or ill-understood items in life, to make stone sculpture work takes constant effort with rewards not immeadiately showing up on the radar. Diligence is usually seen in people as being boorish, driven, & sometimes as being an a**hole. But whatever it takes to prosecute your business successfully do it in a legal straight forward fashion.
Being in an art business means being decisive & not dithering. If you dither, then your business dithers, as does your income from art. It is all connected.