The STONE FOUNDATION came into being in 1986 with a stonemasonry workshop in northern New Mexico. The title, an irresistible pun, was used to identify the group of friends and fellow stonemasons who comprised the team of instructors: Tomas Lipps of New Mexico, George Gonzalez from California, Joe Kenlan from North Carolina, and Toru Oba from Virginia. Sixteen novices were introduced to the craft during the course of a two week "apprenticeship." Worthy projects—dry stone retaining walls and a spring house—were accomplished. As well as basic skills the novices gained an understanding of the fundamentals and an appreciation of some of the finer points of structural stone work.
Seven workshops have followed over a ten year period—in New Mexico, California, Ohio, South Carolina, Oregon, and Mallorca, Spain. The success of these workshops and the camaraderie experienced by the participants led to the concept of a gathering of stonemasons.
There is an organization known as ABANA, the Artist/Blacksmith Association of North America, which was launched at a ‘symposium’ of metalworkers—artisans and sculptors—which took place at Fire Mountain, GA in 1976. Currently it has grown to have an international membership of more than 4,000 and a quarterly publication, The Anvil’s Ring, which serves to connect and inform those involved with metal work.
Obviously something similar would benefit the craft of stone work and its adherents. An event was envisioned during which fellow stone masons (and others in related fields) from all over the country will have the opportunity to meet, to socialize and to discuss the craft; an event that would engender a structured, nationwide organization [with international associations] which will serve to connect and inform an extensive membership—the modern version of a medieval craft guild with a periodical publication, a directory of professional practitioners, educational resources, an on-line forum, information clearinghouse, and book shop, subsequent gatherings and eventually, perhaps, a physical center.
This vision remained a vision for years until late in 1999 when, energized perhaps by the contemporaneous millennial zeal, Tomas Lipps finally took the initiative to realize it. He planned and publicized STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM 2000 and it came to pass—with remarkable and spirited success—in November 2000. About 70 or more advocates and practitioners of the craft convened and communed in Santa Fe New Mexico and THE STONE FOUNDATION was formally launched. Its stated mission: "to preserve and perpetuate the traditions and the craft of structural stone work."
Metaphorically, THE STONE FOUNDATION has been the nexus of a network which has formed and which continues to grow and evolve; a network by means of which communication occurs, information is exchanged and appreciation is nurtured.
UPDATE, January 2014:
Much of what was envisioned at the outset has been realized.
(1) STONEXUS Magazine: Twelve issues of the Stone Foundation's highly regarded print publication have been published and distributed and a thirteenth is now in
production. (Contributions of articles, photos, ideas (and, of course, money) are welcome.)
(2) WEBSITE: www.stonefoundation.org, an informative and articulate public interface, has been established and continues to evolve. (Volunteer help here welcomed.)
(3) STONEMAD FORUM: Another website, http://thestonefoundation.ning.com/, functions as a stonework forum where Stone Foundation members, current and prospective, can meet, display photographs engage in discussions and exchange information about various aspects of the craft. Participants are principally hands-on stonemasons, wallers, carvers and sculptors.
(4) STONETC: The Stone Foundation's newsletter. A digital edition is distributed periodically to all members with email addresses and a printed edition is mailed out with STONEXUS.
(5) ON-LINE MEMBER DIRECTORIES: at www,stonefoundation.org, visitors have the opportunity to consult two Directories, one for Wallers, Stonemasons and Stonemasonry Contractors, another for Associate Members (Architects, Artists, Suppliers, Quarries, Tool merchants, etc.)
Those listed in the Directories whether individuals or business interests, are accessible to a wider public. There is a fee for these listings ($50 for 12 months) but they have proved to be successful in generating not only contacts, but commissions and sales for those listed.
(6) STONEWORK SYMPOSIA: A total of twelve annual gatherings have been successfully organized and taken place. The seventh, INTERNATIONAL 2007, was the first one to take place outside the United States on the Island of Mallorca, off the east coast of Spain.
(7) TRAINING: The need for a hands-on Training Component was soon recognized and the fourth annual gathering, STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM 2004 was the occasion for two workshops, a Stonemasonry Workshop and a Stone Carving workshop.
STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM 2006 included a Dry Stone Walling Workshop (5 instructors and 28 students).
INTERNATIONAL STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM 2007 included a Dry Stone Walling Workshop in the type of wall construction characteristic of the island.
STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM 2008 included three training sessions: a DryStone Walling Workshop, a Stone Letter Carving workshop, a Traditional Lime Mortar Workshop.
STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM 2010 included a Japanese Dry Stone Walling Workshop and an Architectural Stone Carving Workshop.
STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM 2011 had an International Dry Stone Walling Workshop and another Architectural Stone Carving Workshop.
A committee has been formed to plan the Stone Foundation's training program and more workshops are being planned, as well as a "Best Practices Manual."
(8) FOUNDATIONEXUS: The Stone Foundation has been functioning as an information clearinghouse and an agent of referral since its establishment.
The Stone Foundation is on the lookout for a physical center, a quarry would be most appropriate, one no longer in use that might serve as a "campus" and headquarters for the society. Suggestions are welcome.
ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE: Following STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM 2005, the Stone Foundation underwent structural remodeling, adapting the conventional form of a nonprofit corporation with 501(c)3 status; By-Laws, a Board of Trustees, a Chairman, a Secretary and Treasurer. The goal was to guide the Stone Foundation's continuing evolution into an entity which will best benefit the craft of stonework and its advocates.
The Board and its officers made considerable progress before afflictions characteristic of developing non-profit corporations took effect and ruptured the board. The Stone Foundation survived though, as stone foundations will, in a unconventional form that preserves its original spirit which is more communal than corporate.
At the 2006 General Membership Meeting it was affirmed that non-profit status was not, at least at that time, feasible or desirable. Tomas Lipps, the Stone Foundation's 'Founder and Fearless Figurehead' was directed to continue to do as he has been doing since 2000, editing, producing and distributing STONEXUS Magazine, organizing the annual STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM and managing the office. He was directed to establish a for-profit entity and use the proceeds at his discretion to accomplish those tasks. Income over expenses is to be considered fair reimbursement for what has become, for him, a full-time job.
Accordingly, STONEXUS PRODUCTIONS, LLC was established. This is the 'business arm' of the Stone Foundation and exists in a mutually supportive relationship to the Stone Foundation community which remains, as always, a de facto membership organization.
THE STONE FOUNDATION is more than an organization. We are a society, a community, a tribe. The core constituency may be artisans, artists and contractors, but anyone involved with or interested in Stone, Stonework or Stone Art is invited to join us.
At STONEWORK SYMPOSIUM 2013 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the future form and function of the Stone Foundation was discussed during the annual General Membership Meeting. It was determined that the evolution and longevity of the Stone Foundation would be best served if it adapts the form of a Non-Profit 501c3 Corporation, operates like one and, eventually, becomes one. Accordingly an administrative 'reformation' has been initiated. Developments will be reported here as they occur.
The term of STONE FOUNDATION membership is 12 months dating from the date of registration, or registration renewal. Eventually membership and magazine subscription will be separate and subscribers will be able to receive STONEXUS without having to become members and pay the full membership fee. Unfortunately that is not possible at this time; only by charging the full membership fee is there enough money generated to produce, print and distribute the magazine.
Please pass the word about the Stone Foundation, its publications and its activities to others who might be interested. We, and they, will thank you.