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We came to learn about stone. Little did we know how much we were to learn. I was browsing stone web sites and stumbled onto a workshop that sounded interesting and it fell into a good time slot for us. So I said, “Hey, Dan, let’s go to Oregon and attend the Silver Falls Stone Symposium.” We made a phone call and talked with Elaine MacKay and she said there was still room. So we signed on, packed up our Subaru with tools and, with dog in tow, left Minnesota to travel across the country, over the mountains, and through the plains.

We arrived at the Silver Falls  State Park in Oregon on a cold, damp morning in a deep, old growth forest. The chill was taken out of the air when we were warmly welcomed by Karla Iverson who was registering people and handing out room assignments. We checked out our room and it was great. We then proceeded to the working field where everyone was busy setting up tents to work in. We got more warm greetings and Elaine MacKay loaned us a canopy. We then picked out a spot and set up. Several people asked if we needed help. We began to realize what a great group this was. After our tent collapsed and we struggled over knotted ropes we were ready for sculpting. It was then lunch time and we all headed for the dining hall. What a treat!  Delicious food and wonderful conversations were to become part of  every mealtime. Elaine, who did a fantastic job of running the workshop, then gave a brief safety talk, and we were off to our first class.

We could go on and on talking about  all the things we learned, but we’ll try to keep it brief. From Tom Small, we learned how to get into small spaces on hard stone and how to sketch directly on stone using a saw. Stu Jacobson opened up many possibilities  using water  to create different moods and sounds. He also covered drilling stones for fountains. Rich Hestekind offered solid advice on a variety of subjects. Alex Morosco read part of her wonderful poem “Blood & Bones,” showing how words can lead to a Sculpture. She also gave great tool advice. Paul Buckner taught us how one body part flows into the next and how they are all interconnected. We came away from his classes seeing the human body as we had never seen it before. Paul’s enthusiasm for human anatomy was contagious. Those were the official teachers. We also learned much from the participants.  Everyone was so willing to share sources and stories.

This is by far the best workshop we have ever attended. What we learned in four days put us ahead five years in stone knowledge. But what is more important is it restored our faith in humanity. We have never met so many kind and open individuals. We hope our paths cross again.

Lee & Dan Ross from Hovland, Minnesota