Lava rock, according to the dictionary is heated rock formed by the cooling and solidification of molten lava. For sculptor Julie Meeks, lava rock is a unique and eternal medium.
Meeks’ artistry began with watercolor. Her late husband, an internationally-known sculptor, taught her how to carve and shape rock. Meeks claims the lava rocks she chisels average 15 million years old. “I like the medium because it’s permanent,” she said.
Many of Meeks lava rock sculptures are also waterfall fountains. She expressed that wood rots and metal rusts, but lava is steadfast and much more lasting than even cement or copper. Meeks joked, “I always say I can guarantee my work for another million years.”
Meeks told how lava contains many minerals and elements and the rocks themselves take on just as many shapes. “Every rock is different. There are no two alike,” she said. When sculpting for fun, Meeks compared it to cloud watching. She said, “You see something that’s already there and that’s what you make.” Non-commissioned pieces are inspired by the rock which takes on a life of its own. Meeks stated, “The particular shape, texture, and color of a rock dictates what the rock will become.”
Meeks revealed Michelangelo is her hero and follows his theories by finding a particular rock and looking at it for a long time before sculpting it.
Meeks currently puts her watercolor portrait skills to work with rock portraits. She duplicates client photos from pets to people carving a remarkable rock likeness. Her work is accomplished completely by hand using a chisel, hatchet, and file. She shared that her and her late husband both laughed that their chisels were their best friends. Meeks explained that 80 percent of her work is chiseling or “roughing it out” and the rest is going for the details.
“It’s not work if you love your work,” proclaimed Meeks. She said her dad stressed to do what you love. Meeks retired two years ago and said this is the best time of her life.
See Meek’s lava rock art at the upcoming Kemah Boardwalk Great Outdoors Event April 18-19 or view more at facebook.com/julie.duttonmeeks.
By Kelley Dawson