Local sculptors leave their designs by the roadside, made of stone

Published 8:50 am Friday, November 13, 2015

Contributed Photo/Lisa Benfield

Contributed Photo/Lisa Benfield

Stone stacking may not seem like an engaging afternoon activity, but for two Cloudland High School students, it has become an increasingly interactive art form.
Seniors Levi Gouge and Chandler Starnes first made an arrangement two years ago on break from a longboarding excursion in Roan Mountain. They have continued the practice along Highway 143 because of community support.
“When people tell us that they like what we did with the rocks, then that inspires us to do another one,” Gouge said.
The first was about two feet tall and inspired by an existing stack of four rocks.
“The ones we started out making weren’t very tall or complex, but now they’re as tall as me, and I’m 5 foot two inches,” said Starnes.
Their second structure stayed up for about two months.
Starnes said they are all fairly durable. Their first was knocked down after two months, but none have been toppled from weather.
Not only the stability of their designs improved, but the boys have continued to develop their style.
“We like to make them tall and fanning out at the top, and if we can, we try to connect stacks,” said Starnes.
The bridge and arch style of stacking is common among other circles of stone stackers, because it looks most unusual. Many stackers balance large stones on top of smaller ones vertically. Another common quality is using filler rocks and precisely balancing weight.
He said that learning to balance the rocks has been key.
“If we have a rock that doesn’t balance well, we have to use another rock to counterbalance it so the weight is even,” explained Starnes.
If you happen to be driving along Highway 143, watch the sides of the road. You might see a deer, or a bear, or you might just see an unusual rock arrangement, courtesy of two young men who took the time to create that arrangement just for you to enjoy.

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