Meet the Tenino Stone Carvers!

 

Keith Phillips, Master Stone Carver

Keith Phillips, a Washington native, began carving stone as gifts for family members and friends in 1984. He progressed to creating garden stones and family crests, then on to carving ornate fireplaces and the cutting of architectural stone. A mostly self taught carver, he learned by trial and error, reading, and from his mentor Lorenz (Larry) Scheel, a retired stone cutter who had worked in Washington’s stone industry during it’s heyday. Scheel trained and received his apprenticeship from master stonecutter and Hercules Quarry owner Andrew Wilson in 1925. Wilson earned his apprenticeship from Henry Aiken in Grangemouth, Scotland in the 1800s.

At his death in 1999, Larry Scheel passed on his carving tools to Phillips, keeping the stone carving tradition the family, as Larry was the uncle of Phillip’s wife, Sally. From his hand built cutting shed, patterned after a medieval German design, Phillips operates on a job by job basis, working from architectural drawings, artist’s sketches, or drawings from private clients.

 

 

Myrna Orsini

Member of Tenino Stone Carver’s Guild and teacher of their beginning stone carving classes 2023-
Rainier Arts Commission Board member 2019-
Founder and Director of Monarch Sculpture Park 1994-
Assistant to stone carver George Pratt, British Columbia, 1989
Interned at Carlo Nicoli’s marble studio in Cortona, Italy, 1987
University of Georgia’s Study Abroad Program, Cortona, Italy studying with Ted Metz, 1987
Internship at Valley Bronze Art Foundry, Joseph, Oregon 1985
Studied with artist, Richard Rhea, 1980-84

I have been a professional sculptor since 1984. I have participated in international stone symposiums in the United States, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Hungary. My work is in private, city, and corporate collections in the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Italy, Hungary, Australia and Brazil. The American Embassy in Lithuania and the art museum in Nikolaev, Ukraine and in Budapest, Hungary have works of mine in their collections.

 

Bill Lenker, Director of the Tenino Stone Carvers

As a native Pennsylvanian, I grew up inspired by the region’s vast examples of various styles of stone work. Many years later, I find myself in Tenino Washington, working with a group of skilled masons, carvers, and stonecutters who share this passion.

I owned and operated Lenkerbrook Stoneworks for 24 years, creating both public and private projects in the greater Olympia area. I have been able to employ many of the aspects of the trade through masonry, dry stone walling, dry and mortared patio work, large stone sets, interactive public art, and most recently, stone carving.

Public projects include the patios and walls of Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls, The Tenino Veterans Memorial Wall, flatwork at the entrance to The Valley Athletic Club, a circular bench at the Olympia Farmers Market, a 6’ tall monolithic sundial at the Olympia Waldorf School, and the construction of a stone vista within the Ridgefield Federal Wildlife refuge in Clark County. After a number of collaborations with the stone carvers of Tenino, we joined forces in 2021 to create a 3 1/2 ton Olympia Beer Logo for display outside the Olympia - Tumwater Foundation’s office.

In early 2023 we formed the Tenino Stone Carvers Guild to celebrate the city’s stone quarrying, cutting, and carving heritage, as well as to keep the skills and customs of prior generations alive. Through commissions, consignment, and education, the Guild will work to see this vision through to pass along to future generations.

I am a firm believer that stone is history, and art is healing. I look forward to enhancing my carving skills, while embracing these elements, as I move into the future.

 

Cindy Koontz

Being a preservationist comes naturally to me. As a memory keeper of all things discarded and rusty, I have developed into a multidisciplinary artist. After marrying an amazing supporter of my creative endeavors, partner, and husband, I relocated to Tenino. 

I have taken up stone carving as a natural progression of my handcrafted lifestyle. Thanks to the guidance of our Master Stone Carver, Keith Phillips, I have developed a passion for stone that will take years to master. I am a member of the Tenino Stone Carvers Guild, where I currently serve as the social media director. Additionally, I am excited to announce that I will be serving as Myrna Orcina’s assistant when her stone sculpture classes are offered.

 

 

 

 

Daniel Miller

I was born in the UK but emigrated to Malta at the age of 10, where I continued my schooling and was immersed in the local culture and became fluent in the Maltese language. Leaving school I went to work in the stone trade with my in-laws building and restoring houses in the local limestone. 

At the age of 20, I returned to the UK and furthered my education with a two year “access to university” course. Upon completion of the course I decided that university was not the option for me and decided to continue following my passion of stone carving and completed a NVQ (national vacation qualification) in stonemasonry at York College. The course was designed to train masons in historic skills in stone cutting. I also completed courses in plastering and letter cutting. 

I went on to work in various stone and building industries in the UK, where I became proficient in stone masonry, brick work, and plastering, and was fortunate to be involved in many restoration projects. 

I moved to America in 2010, where I started my own hardscape business building patios, walls, and fireplaces for various clients in Seattle. 

My son was born in 2013 and I decide to have some time at home raising him. When I decided to return to work, I chose to once again follow my passion of carving stone and sought out Mr. Keith Phillips, a notable stone cutter in Tenino, WA, and   continued my stone carving journey under his mentorship. 

Since 2016 I have been working in Tenino helping to form a solid guild of stone carvers and artisans. We formally became a non-profit under The Parc Foundation. With their help we we secured a grant to help renovate the old city workshop into a classroom space to teach the art of stone carving and sculpture, helping to pass down and preserve the craft to future generations and encourage artistic creations, and form a communal hub based around creations in stone.

 

Steve Quillen

A wood carver from a young age, I have always had an appreciation for art, creativity, and all forms of tangible craft. Working material by hand and with the use of simple hand tools is where my interests lie. Learning constantly through trial and error and trying to incorporate tips, tricks, and advice from anyone with knowledge and experience has allowed me to advance my skills and push my abilities. I still enjoy working with wood occasionally and have a strong interest in clay sculpting as well, but my true passion is in carving stone.