||The Wonderstone StoryKen Brown’s grandfather was a rock hound and Rex, Ken’s father, used to give his father a bad time telling him that the only thing rocks were good for was scaring the deer out of the brush. But times have changed and Ken has found out that rocks may be good for a few other things as well.It was 1964 and Rex , Ken’s father, was a lineman for the local power company. Rex was out hunting rabbits with a friend. At first he wasn’t particularly impressed with the large chunk of sandstone he and his friend literally tripped over. Because he had just finished laying Goldenstone, a picture stone from St. George into his new fireplace, he took a good look at it.Try as he might, he couldn’t forget the new piece of sandstone. It was a year later before he decided to return to the spot and take another look. The sandstone chunk was still there. He explored the area and soon found the original ledge from which the slab had broken off.This time he was really attracted to the picture beauty of the stone- so much so that upon returning home, he managed to drag a friend of his back out to see it. After breaking off another chunk of the stone they were nearly speechless. At this point Brown had become fascinated by it, and he knew he would have to do something with it.That he did. He framed it and sold it. From that point on, the sandstone art business became a family enterprise called Wonderstone. It’s the aesthetic quality of the slabs that make the business so rewarding to the artistic eye. Each cut displays a completely different picture, and one is never certain what will turn up next, says Ken. The color in the beautiful stone is made from a number of minerals. Iron in the rock makes the dark bands that set apart the other shades. It is believed that a mineral spring once flowed slowly through the quarry area and years of settling created the different bands.The quarry is an hour from Kanab and sits on 20 acres. Heavy equipment is used to break the stone apart into huge slabs. A forklift is used to load the boulders onto the trucks that haul the slabs to the shop in Kanab.At the shop the large boulders are brought to the wire saw. The saw cuts the boulders into 15 inch slabs. The saw uses diamond blades which take more than an hour to cut through the large boulders. Most of the equipment used to make the products at Wonderstone was designed and built at the plant.
The 15 inch slabs are then taken to the various areas where the individual products are created. Thin slabs are cut to make the wall hangings, columns are cut to make the coasters. Bookends, paperweights and clocks are all fashioned from the stone. The latest additions of spheres and egg shapes are all created right at the production plant.
All of the products are displayed at Gift City, the retail outlet for the stone. The store is located on the west end of Kanab’s main street.
Who would have ever thought, said Ken, that you could make a living from selling rocks?