This "What's New" Page presents some favorite
items made by Stone Arts of Alaska in 2011. Other new items are
shown throughout the website. A few photographs show Karen Howell's
table bases. To see the full range of Karen's work, go to her web
Also, a few notes about my book:
Wanderlusting are at the bottom of this page.
I use a stone called conglomerate for many
items. Geologically, it is conglomeration of many small water-worn
pebbles, cemented together by nature – nature’s concrete if you
will. Because of its particular composition, the conglomerate I find
on Prince of Wales Island is full of color. It is in fact the most
colorful conglomerate I have seen from anywhere, although some from
Brazil comes close. I sometimes call this “Circus Conglomerate”
because all the brightly hued circles remind me of a clown’s suit.
The first photo below shows a finished table, with Karen's base. The
second shows a top. These two tops are from the largest boulder of
conglomerate ever sawn -- and, likely, ever to be sawn.
Over the years, I have made a series of
mushrooms, out of this stone. They are meant to be "Garden
Sculpture." The mushroom shown here, finished in May, is my largest.
It weighs approximately 350 pounds and measures 31" in diameter
Below is a free-form piece, done on commission,
in pink marble. The pink color in this marble is extraordinary; a
good word might be "delicious." The second photo shows the top of
the piece – left natural, it looks like a mountainscape in alpenglow.
I like making bowls. The kind of stone I find
in Alaska is very complex in both color and pattern. It likes simple
designs in which it, more than the artist, does the speaking. Big,
rounded vessels are perfect. When I polish the outside, they are
"bowls" or "vessels." Meant for within the home, they may bring a
bit of nature’s beauty and wonder into the living space, like
bringing in a piece of the sunset or a moment of the song of a
mockingbird or a tumbling brook. I prefer to leave the edge rough on my bowls. This
communicates “stone” and “handmade” to the viewer;
that the bowl is not factory produced; that it is not plastic,
glass, or ceramic. Done on commission, the bowl below is of
Another Tangerine Marble Bowl, completed the
same day this website goes up, Jan. 19, 2012. This vessel is 26 x 12
x 3 inches
The bowl in these two photos is of a very rare
type of Aphrodite Marble – I only have a couple of pieces of it. The
unusual red patterning in the marble is of a rock type called “breccia.”
See the Raw Stone for Sculptors Page, section on Aphrodite
Marble, for more information.
A customer said: "My girlfriend loves Aphrodite
Marble." He asked if we could make a special jewelry stone. "Keep it
quiet," he said, "A gift. A surprise." It was a pleasure to
make this stone.
A small end-table utilizing Golden Aphrodite
Marble. The photo does not well show the stone – its warm pastels of
pink and gold -- but it does well show Karen’s cool forged steel
base, with leaves.
A Turtle Birdbath. This is made out of Karheen
Conglomerate (not the same conglomerate as shown in photos 1- 3).
This particular rock, I thought, looked like a turtle. I added the
This is also Karheen conglomerate. A chunk of
stone off to one side of the boulder looked like it might have an
owl hiding within. I dug it out. The owl perches -- waiting and
watching -- from a pile of rocks. It is now in a California garden.
A birdbath made out of Prince of Wales
Greenstone, aka One Duck Greenstone. This stone, of sedimentary
origin, is characterized by its light-and-dark, green banding. I
like to work the stone perpendicular to the banding, which creates
rings in the curvature of a bowl.
A Jupiter Marble garden sculpture. This is
a "minimalist" piece -- not really carved, only polished.
Jupiter Marble is an exceptionally colorful marble, with lots of
pinks, deep reds, and purples. A published story about the original finding of
the Jupiter Marble is on the Raw Stone for Sculptors Page, section
on Jupiter marble, of this
A Jupiter Marble garden sculpture/birdbath. The
buyer of this piece also purchased the one above and, previously,
three other Jupiter pieces. They are part of the overall composition
of her garden.
The next piece is pure whimsy. I had a
stone consisting of two congenially-joined concretions. Concretions
are a rather odd geologic structure – always rounded -- that occur
in sedimentary rocks. I saw a giant beetle in this rock, so I gave
it some eyes. Karen used scrap rebar to make the legs, antennae, and
tail. It is 20” high, 18” wide, and 21” nose to tail. The piece
achieves its purpose if its viewer laughs when first seeing it.
I sandblast engrave signs and memorial stones.
This is a sandblast-engraved plaque, commissioned jointly by the
U.S. Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy, to acknowledge a
river restoration project. Most of my engraving is of memorial
stones (grave stones). I made twelve last year. Stone Arts of Alaska’s memorial
stones can be found from Dutch Harbor, to Sacramento, to New York
City. Most are on Prince of Wales Island. The purchase and placement
of these stones can be very important for the families or friends of
the deceased – an act of
both honor and closure. See Engraved Signs and Memorial Stones page.
On a different tack, these are two visually
interesting fossils found last summer. Both are polished slabs. The
first is a large yellow snail found in Aphrodite marble. Fossil
snails (gastropods) are common in Aphrodite Marble but not with this
striking color. The second is fossil coral (hexagonaria,
Devonian Age) that has a band of brassy-looking pyrite beneath. It
is unusual both geologically and visually.
At Stone Arts of Alaska, we love stone almost
any way it comes. We love natural stone just as much as stone art.
We collect what we call "natural sculpture" -- stones with
compelling shapes, colors, or patterns. The Chinese use the
term "Viewing Stone" while the Japanese reference "Suiseki."
Below are a few stones we added to our collection this year. To view
a bigger part of our collection, go to the Natural Sculpture page.
By Gary McWilliams
change: This is a new rendition of the author's previous
Hot Coffee and Other Wild Goose Tales.
"Wanderlusting is one man's story,
alternately funny and hair-raising, about his travels after he
dropped out of graduate school in the 1970s. Gary McWilliams chose a
working man's life, and worked side by side with an international
cast of miners, sailors, and fishermen, crossing paths too with
missionaries, smugglers, and revolutionaries. His unusual adventures
will keep you turning the pages." Karen Howell.
For a signed copy from the author, see
Some comments from
“I had a difficult time putting it
down. I was chuckling so much that my wife made me read it aloud . .
. . This has to be read to be believed—no one could make this stuff
up or plan what happened to him. . . .” Kenneth Kupchak, lawyer,
“I wanted to read more. . . . totally
marvelous, was better than sleeping at night, . . . so well
written—I was there.” Verena Swippert, stone sculptor,
“Gary McWilliams' book really had me
conflicted. I couldn't wait to finish a story, but I didn't want the
book to end! I really, really LOVE this book!" Fred Olsen,
geologist, Denver, Colorado.
“I like the way you weave political and
emotional subtexts into the narratives to give them flavor. I was
sorry to get to the end.” Charlie Hodges, writer/musician,
"I am blown away by the book. It is
great! I have laughed out loud . . . When will it be published? I
want a case of them myself." Lois MacKenzie, nurse, Moab, Utah.
"All I can say about your
book is WOW! WOW! WOW! It has been such a delight to sit for an hour
each morning with coffee reading it . . . too intrigued to put it
down." Leon White, artist, Seattle, Washington.
“I savor it each morning
with my first cup of coffee and wonder how to prolong the joy.”
Steve Hodges, Powell, Tennessee.
adventures, told in crackling prose. This is an exhilarating book.
Kick back, put a log on the fire, and have at it.” Ernie Crane,
teacher, Phoenix, Arizona.