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Thea Alvin's Stone Art | The School of Hard Rocks

Thea Alvin’s Stone Art | The School of Hard Rocks
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On Route 100 in Vermont, between Morrisville and Stowe, Thea Alvin’s unique stone arches, circles, and sculptures are a familiar sight.

a visitor browses Thea Alvin's epic arch
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
A visitor browses Thea Alvin’s epic arch.

“Does your husband do this?” the man asks Thea Alvin, as he sweeps his arm, a gesture encompassing all that can be seen from the road: the loop de loop rock wall and an egg shaped monument made solely of stones and another rock wall rising sinuously into an arched gateway before pouring itself back into a wall.

Like so many, this man has driven by here for years wondering just who was behind these creations. Today his red pick-up truck conveniently overheated by these mineral miracles and while waiting for a friend, he has the chance to ask the five-foot tall woman with her dark hair hidden under a red kerchief if she knows who and how these stone spectacles were made.

Thea Alvin with the arch she recently demolished and reconstructed
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
Thea Alvin with the arch she recently demolished and reconstructed.

Thea fields the questions and admiration of intentional and accidental passersby all day long, when she’s here. She’s recently returned from Italy where she taught a masonry restoration course and she’s headed out again in a few days to lead a “hands-on” multi-week public sculpture project at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT.

Thea Alvin spray paints her tools pink so they don't wander off or get left behind
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
Thea Alvin spray paints her tools pink so they don’t wander off or get left behind.

Until then, she’s lugging slabs of the quarried blue-stone and river-cobbled round stones to encircle a deep pit outside her house where a soon-to-be fountain-pool is taking shape.

For the past 15 years motorists driving Route 100 between Morrisville and Stowe have witnessed the evolution of Thea’s dynamic 1810 homestead, now burgeoning with murals and vegetables and animals. Since purchasing this place in the late 1990s, her geologic artistry has dominated the front yard, drawing attention not just from daily commuters but also from the editors of Oprah magazine, which recently featured Thea in a short video segment for “Super Soul Sunday.” For this feature, Thea broke her epic arch apart and then rebuilt it on film with her two eloquent hands. No mortar, no hidden rebar, just stones acquiescing to rise into the air and descend, making a graceful half circle.

a visitor takes in the stone spectacles at Thea Alvin's sculpture garden
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
A visitor takes in the stone spectacles at Thea Alvin’s sculpture garden.

After the stranded man’s ride arrives and two more visitors conclude their perusal of Thea’s sculptures, Thea crouches by the Angora goat pen and offers Cappuccino a strip of cucumber. Each stone is like a day she tells me—the good ones, the rough ones. She tries to find a way that they can all fit together justly, aptly. Together, they make a story. Her ongoing story, written in stone.

Thea’s sculpture park is located at 1626 Laporte Road in Morrisville, VT. Learn more at

Thea Alvin's angora goats. In the winter she uses her stone-strong hand to knit garments from her goats' silken wool.
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
Thea Alvin’s Angora goats. In the winter she uses her stone-strong hand to knit garments with her goats’ silken wool.
Julia Shipley


Julia Shipley


Julia Shipley is the author of three poetry chapbooks and most recently, a prose collection Adam's Mark: Writing from the Ox House, supported by a 2010-11 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant and published by Plowboy Press. Her Vermont Rural Life blog showcases the people, land and community of her unique corner of Vermont-- a mix of mountains and fields, daisies and delphiniums, Holstein cows and eight point Bucks, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers, newcomers and old-timers all making their way in one of the least populated places on the east coast.
Updated Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

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