Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Rock, Paper, iPhone

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Rock, Paper, iPhone

Article excerpt

Charles Herndon has scoured the fields and the Lake Erie shore along Ohio's Kelleys Island for most of his 60 years, seeking boulders that carry a story that he can reveal. Stone sculptures litter the outdoor gallery at his home, and dozens more occupy pedestals and floor space in a more traditional albeit cluttered indoor gallery. Touching is allowed as long as visitors remove their shoes to avoid introducing dirt and other particles that might damage his art.

Herndon's favorite sculpture is one he's named So Far, No Farther. Glaciers and tugs of the earth and water pushed this piece of gabbro rock so far and no farther, and then Herndon applied his tools and took it, again, so far and no farther. He fell in love with the stone so much that he kept track of how long he worked on it: 333 hours, nearly all of it using simple hand tools and abrasives.

I comment that he's invested a lot of time in one sculpture. "Yes," he said. "But it came to me with 10,000 years in it."

Herndon's work changed significantly the day the head of the sculpture department at his art school passed along a set of power tools. "That really set me going," he said.

With a few slashes from a carbide-tipped rotary saw, Herndon can reveal the heart of the story in an ancient stone within hours--even though it took eons for nature to write it in the first place. He can scoop out sections to make a powerful stone seem to bend or twist or whittle down to a hollow frame that we can see through.

With water washing over the rocks to enhance their color, Herndon rubs the stones by hand with abrasive bricks of silicone carbide to smooth them and refine the shape that he wants. …

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