A co-worker spent some time at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival in Muskogee and came away raving about some of the artists he'd seen, especially the stone carver.
Gary Bennett's shop behind his house in west Tulsa is loaded with stone carvings he's done. His piece, The Dancing Bear is in soap stone, but many of the rest are in limestone.
There's a story in those old stones, they were salvaged in Ponca City.
"It was part of a Monastery on the Marland Mansion property," Bennett explained.
The monastery burned, but the stone was left. More of it you'll find in some of the buildings at the Castle of Muskogee.
A lot of the limestone came originally from central Texas.
"This stone out here is also from Texas," Bennett said.
He was carving Gaelic words into the stone; it means “Maple Hill.”
"This happens to be going to a guy in Fort Smith," Bennett said.
Maple Hill is the name of the guy's property.
Bennett's been one of the featured artists at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival for the past six years or so. He began as a wood carver, now his first love is stone.
"The more I carved the stone the more I liked it," he said.
His wife, Donna, said he's got ideas and projects he'd like to do, enough to last a lifetime. Said it keeps him busy and out of trouble.
Bennett said he loves the people he meets at the festival, and the questions they ask.
"First of all, what are you doing, and how'd you learn how to do that, and what are you working in," he said.
That leads into a conversation about stone, and tools and the history of the carving art. He said he loves talking about that almost as much as the work itself.
Bennett is one of the many artists you'll find at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival each Saturday and Sunday in May at the Castle of Muskogee.