Indianapolis, Greenwood, Noblesville, Franklin, Zionsville, Whitestown, Lafayette, Columbus, Martinsville, Bloomington, Carmel, Ft. Wayne, Plainfield, Shelbyville, Rushville, Richmond, Terre Haute, Madison, Aurora, Lawrenceburg, Bright, Dunkirk, etc.
Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Hamilton, Harrison, Fairfield, Loveland, Oxford, Lebanon, Goshen, Batavia, Springfield, Xenia, Bexley, Blanchester, Hillsboro, Wilmington, Georgetown, Chillicothe, etc.
Louisville, Lexington, Danville, Frankfort, Newport, Maysville, Cambell, Carlisle, Bloomfield, Bedford, Augusta, Richmond, Warsaw, Alexandria, etc.
(Musings of a Stone Designer)
Friday, December 07 2012
As you can imagine, this past year we were thrilled to discover that the only surviving American soapstone quarry is, once again, open for business! The Alberene Soapstone Company, which was established in 1888, is located in Schuyler, Virgina. It spans over 1,200 acres of large soapstone deposits, including one of the largest in the world! This news certainly seemed exciting enough to us to warrant an adventure to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to tour the quarry!
Rocks were pretty much everywhere!)
(Here we are parked next to the quarry currently in operation)
Our visit to the Alberene Soapstone Company was like stepping back in time—from the old time photos on the walls of the office building,
to the antique machinery in an old processing facility,
(For some reason, Pete got excited about this antique drill press)
to the picturesque old buildings on the grounds built completely from soapstone.
(Stacked soapstone forms the structure's exterior)
(Same building--it was all soapstone, all the way through)
As lovers of all things artistic, we continually seek out beauty--which probably explains how we got into the soapstone business in the first place. After all, we relish the aesthetic quality of natural soapstone.
At Alberene, beauty was everywhere to be seen.
(If a soapstone structure suddenly appears on our property, this will have been the moment of inspiration for Pete)
(and more rocks)
As expected, we saw beauty in the soapstone slabs.
(Alberene showroom displays samples of the different soapstone "flavors," as they refer to them)
We also saw beauty in the stone's most natural state, before it was cut or processed.
...we saw it during the process.
And we saw beauty in art, literally. Original sculptures were dotted randomly across the Alberene grounds.
(One highlight was meeting the resident stone artist, Kierk Ashmore-Sorensen. See his amazing work at www.industrialstone.com)
Of course, our trip included a visit to the quarry.
(Pete with Lance McCardle, Alberene's Sustainable Development Specialist and Sales Directer, as well as our friendly and knowledgeable tour guide)
Next, a tour of the processing plant.
(Brian operating the wire saw)
As this was a purchasing trip, our next task was getting down to business---choosing our slabs.
We settled on several lots of Old Dominion soapstone with beautiful veining patterns spattered across a rich dark background. (for starters)
(To see more images of these slabs, and others, visit the inventory page on our web site)
After our tour of Alberene, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the Blue Mountain Brewery, overlooking (what else?) the Blue Ridge Mountains. (It can't be all work!)
(The view from the Blue Mountain Brewery)
Finally, we waited for a few weeks, and watched as the soapstone was delivered directly to our door.
(Alberene's driver, Kevin, represented the company well. He was friendly and helpful, just like everyone else we encountered.)
(So crazy to see the stone go from a dusty side of a hill, to our shop, to a stunning feature in someone's home!) Keep watching--I will be sure to post photos of our first American soapstone installation!