Humans have a long tradition of taking rocks and making pretty things with them. Usually, when you think of sculpture, you think of marble, right? I mean, of course, marble - marble's a wonderful stone for sculptors, very hard and yet amenable to people carving and polishing it.

If I asked you for an igneous rock suitable for making art with, what would you give me? Big ol' chunk of something in the granite family? Good choice! Polishes up a treat, that does, and it's very monumental.

Here's another igneous rock you could use:

Yes, you can use the Columbia River Basalts for some very impressive geoart.

You run across them in unexpected places. You'll be bopping down the street, and suddenly - columns. The images above and below are in a cluster near a Burger King in Burien, Washington.

The columns are quite popular for things like fountains.

These are huge, and heavy - this is an iron-rich rock. Some are rather easier to handle:

I'm not sure what it is with basalt and Burger King around the Northwest.

If you're ever walking along the Sammamish River in Woodinville, WA, keep an eye out for this towering beauty.

 

You can see how well this rock takes a polish - like a mirror up there. It's a pretty fine-grained stone, and you can do very interesting things with the contrast between weathered, carved, and polished surfaces.

 

It's even a suitable surface for cartography.

And when winter comes along, you'll see ice working to enhance the effect on the fountains.

 

Betcha never quite thought of basalt this way, but it's an example of what I've always thought: even the most boring and prosaic old rocks can be beautiful. Sometimes, it's for their story. Sometimes, it's because they become a new story in an artist's hands.

If you want to see these columns in their original context, I have some images here. Your jaw will drop at Dry Falls, guaranteed.

Speaking of geology and art, we'll be getting on with the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Ring story shortly. I got a bit sidetracked by Christianist earth science textbooks for a talk I was supposed to give for FtBConscience. Unfortunately, the con got postponed, but at least I'll be able to tell you all about the whacked-out version of science being presented to unsuspecting children by creationists. That series will begin this fall. And I'll post the date for my talk when everything gets rescheduled.