Ladies and gentlemen, start your chisels.

The Indiana Limestone Symposium will take place June 3-23 on the grounds of the storied Bybee Stone Mill in Ellettsville.

Launched in 1996, the symposium is structured to accommodate beginning and accomplished carvers in three one-week sessions. Professional carvers from Indiana and around the country are on hand to provide instruction in the use of both hand and pneumatic tools.

“One of the principles behind the symposium is to teach the next generation of carvers,” says Pamela Keech, symposium board president. “From the beginning, Bybee Stone Company has been a stalwart sponsor concerned about the art of carving. There are more jobs that call for fine carving skills than they can handle.”

Bybee’s many projects have included the U.S. Capitol, the Seattle Art Museum, and Chicago’s Millennium Park.

This year’s symposium includes an immersive week-long session on figure carving with master sculptor George Bauer, a hand-carving session for children ages 10-17, and an independent carving session. A “Carve-by-the-Day” option is also offered for people who are curious but may not be ready to make a week-long commitment. Workshops are held Monday through Friday from 9 am until noon; tools and a small, manageable block of stone are provided.

“The symposium’s value to carvers, regardless of their level, is to have the time to eat, breathe, talk, and dream limestone carving for an intense period of time,” explains Amy Brier, symposium co-founder. “Carving can be a very solitary endeavor; this brings people together to share the experience.”

Over the years, more than 200 carvers from around the country and the world have attended.

“My first symposium was in June 2002, and I haven’t missed one since. I was hooked from the start,” says Bill Holladay, a Bloomington resident and now a symposium board member. Every year, Holladay takes two weeks of vacation from his marketing job at the Indiana University Foundation to attend the symposium. “Carving stone engages a different part of my brain,” he explains. “It’s great therapy.”

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