Thea Alvin: So, it flows and swoops and sweeps up and down.
Reporter Julie Kelley: It's amazing how rocks can flow!
Thea Alvin: They do. They defy gravity; they're fluid.
The arches in Thea Alvin's front yard in Morrisville defy gravity; there is nothing holding them together.
"Everything in the world outside in my world has to obey three rules: water, temperature and gravity. And if it can't answer those three rules, then it will fail. It has to answer all of them," Thea said.
Thea started doing stonemasonry as a teenager with her dad.
"I was his tender," she explained. "So, I mixed the mortar, I carried the blocks and I ran as fast as I could go and I hated it and I hated him."
From that complicated relationship came a lesson that transformed her life years later.
"I was in Vermont. I was living here. I was raising my children and I was building stone walls at my property. And my friends wanted me to build them stone walls and I began to use the skills that I had," Thea said.
She made a conscience decision early on to be an artist and design on her terms. She built a chapel right down the road from her home, but she can't say who hired her to do the work.
"This is somebody's place of worship and it's a whole building," Thea said. "It really is representative of the completeness of the thought it takes to lay a single stone... There can't be one stone in here before you know where the last one goes. You can't start unless you know where you're going."
When she heard about a project in Italy to restore a 15th century village, she knew exactly where she wanted to go.
"I volunteered to pay my own way and I volunteered to work without pay," she said. "So, they couldn't say no!"
She says there are lessons in each project. She makes adjustments even as she builds, just like in life, stone by stone we build and hope to create a beautiful, sturdy existence.
"It's not ever going to be just bricks and straight, even, level rows. I won't do that," she said. "I'll be hungry. I would rather be hungry. I want to make beautiful things. I want to beautify the Earth. I want to live joyfully."
How busy is she? In one week, she met with folks about projects at Middlebury College; Kennebunkport, Maine; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Duke University. Next winter, she heads to Australia to build an installation at a horse breeding farm.
Thea Alvin was featured in an article in O, The Oprah Magazine called "Women Who Make Beautiful Things." And even before the magazine came out last month, she was booked for work for the next year.
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:27 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:27:22 GMT
Town meeting day didn't bode well for dozens of school budgets across the state. Now the Burlington City Council is looking to cut costs after voters rejected school spending hikes. The council votedMore >>
Town meeting day didn't bode well for dozens of school budgets across the state. Now the Burlington City Council is looking to cut costs after voters rejected school spending hikes.More >>
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:26 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:26:45 GMT
The Vermont Senate has loosened restrictions on the state's medical marijuana dispensaries. The bill passed Tuesday allows an unlimited number of qualified Vermonters to access medical marijuana -- removing theMore >>
The Vermont Senate has loosened restrictions on the state's medical marijuana dispensaries.More >>
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:26 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:26:03 GMT
A St. George man is behind bars accused of stealing from an elderly South Burlington woman. 43-year-old Craig Dubuque was arrested for the alleged financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Police sayMore >>
A St. George man is behind bars accused of stealing from an elderly South Burlington woman.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 11:35 PM EDT2014-03-12 03:35:07 GMT
"You know, people say you might not need it, which is true, but this way you get a choice. I don't have to go out tomorrow," said Lorinda Henry of Milton. Henry says she hit the grocery stores TuesdayMore >>
Parts of Vermont could get up to 24 inches of snow in the coming storm. And VTrans officials are warning drivers they may not be able to keep up with the storm rolling in Wednesday.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 8:02 PM EDT2014-03-12 00:02:07 GMT
"Seems like it was just yesterday. Doesn't seem like it's been two years at all," said Glenda Reandeau of Tupper Lake. Residents of Tupper Lake still have their eyes out for Colin Gillis, a now 20-year-oldMore >>
Colin Gillis of Tupper Lake, N.Y., disappeared two years ago. And authorities are still searching for him. They say the investigation now focuses on tips from the public and from those who were the last to see Gillis.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 6:17 PM EDT2014-03-11 22:17:43 GMT
A Rutland City Police officer is recovering at home after a crash involving his cruiser. Authorities say Officer Adam Lucia was one of two officers responding to an aggravated assault call Monday at TopsMore >>
A Rutland City Police officer is recovering at home after a crash involving his cruiser.More >>