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Stone Carver's Pavilion now home for artists


Last updated 1/3/2008 at Noon

With the help of an air compressor, Dave Thor grinds the rough spots off of his latest stone carving.

Several days a week, the loud noises of metal tools grinding stone can be heard coming from the Stone Carver’s Pavilion at the Foundry, part of the Art Campus at Fallbrook on Alvarado Street.

Much like the carving of stone, the creation of the pavilion proved to be a time-consuming process. After delays in construction dragged out the inspection process, it finally opened in the middle of August.

The Amato Stone Carver’s Group had been using a location in Vista for 30 years before the property was sold in 2006. The space they now occupy had been a vacant lot owned by the Fallbrook Village Association, which offered the use of the land and arranged for the relocation of the fence that separated it from the Foundry.

By mid-October, most of the original members of the group were utilizing their new open-air site.

This new location features 10 workstations with air compressors available to power stone-carving tools. While this gives each artist his or her own space to work in, the close proximity to others allows them to turn to each other for advice or to borrow materials.

Even though their styles and preferred subjects vary widely they share an extensive knowledge of what it takes to turn a stone into art. They also share a passion for the art that leads them to drive long distances to the spot created just for them. On a Saturday in December, there were four stone carvers tooling away at their art.

Syd Harris lives in Oceanside and travels to Fallbrook when he gets a chance, usually on Saturdays, to work on his latest carving. A retired engineer, he has been carving stone for 10 years.

Harris is currently working on an alabaster figure and was in the filing stage that day. He likes to leave the interpretation of his stone figures to the eyes of the beholder so the image can mean something different to each person who sees it.

He explained the process of his art. After first visualizing what the finished work will look like, the stone carver grinds or shaves off all excess stone, files off rough edges, then uses various grains of sand paper on the stone to smooth out the surfaces and bring out the natural colors of the stone. The last stage in this creation is a polishing of the stone with a rouge paste.

Another stone carver added that alabaster is only used for indoor art, as it does not weather well out in the elements. Limestone, sandstone and marble are best suited for pieces destined for outdoor display.

Marj Nooteboom from San Clemente has been stone carving for 25 years. She worked in clay first with models and still-life subjects. Having grown tired with that medium, she turned to stone carving.

Nooteboom specializes in sea life (including dolphins, sharks and jelly fish) and gives her work away as gifts. She recently figured out that she had just created her 26th starfish and “I decided right then that it was my last one,” she declared.

She is currently working on a chunk of black and white alabaster with the hopes of carving out a whale.

Del Mar resident Carol Seidenwurm says that stone carving can be therapy since it helps work out aggression. Despite more than 30 years experience, though, she admitted that “one of my traits is getting into hard places” (for her tools to reach), which is what happened while she worked on filing her manta ray figure.

Stone carving requires patience, she said. That is why it is a hard core group of artists who create dust and noise in the pavilion on a regular basis. Seidenwurm added that wearing earplugs (while using the power tools) is a good idea.

Pondering the stone that is unexpectedly chipping under her grinder, Marj Nooteboom wonders if she will be able to create the whale she is visualizing inside it.

Dave Thor drives from Vista once a week to work on his latest project. An office furniture salesman, he carves for a hobby but recently sold a commissioned piece which he happily shipped off to Geneva, Switzerland. That work was carved in orange alabaster. His current project is a similar rounded shape but in limestone, as it is going to be an outdoor piece.

Thor’s view of the pavilion is that “this is a great place to be [with] a lot of potential; in 2008 you’ll see a lot of the changes they’re making here.”

Any artists interested in joining the group can call Brigitte Schlemmer, director of the Art Campus at Fallbrook, at (760) 728-6383 for more information.

Note: To read the first article on the stone carvers moving to Fallbrook, go to and search for “Stone carver group joins The Foundry.”


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