Vt. 'rock star' turns stones into art - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. 'rock star' turns stones into art

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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.

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