Top of the Trade

The Natural Stone Institute salutes the best in stone with 2018 Pinnacle Awards of Excellence .... including an unorthodox (and

well-deserved choice) for the top Grande Pinnacle honor with Joey Marcella's incredible Aura.

Grande Pinnacle Award of Excellece

Aura Liberty Lake, Wash.

For this sculpture, the stone needed to be solid and dense enough to retain structural integrity when carved thinly with a lot of negative space. An eight-cubic-foot, half-ton block of statuary grade Bianco Carrara C marble was sourced in Pietrasanta, Italy, and meticulously tested for any fissures.

Sculptor Joey Marcella, during 16 months of work, reduced that down to a mere 80 lbs while retaining most of the original volume. Inside this framework is a continuous band, weaving in and out of itself, playing with light and shadow among suggestively feminine curves. The luminous nature of the stone allows light to penetrate the thin edges and produce a glowing halo effect, hence the title Aura.

The concept began as a small metal ribbon bent into a pleasing, asymmetrical shape, capable of being displayed and viewed from multiple perspectives, with no defined “base.”

Utilizing modern technology, this metal prototype was digitally scanned and refined within a 3D computer modeling program, and eventually 3-printed to scale in plastic.

An Old-World measuring device, the Macchina di Punta, was employed to mark specific points on the model that were transferred to the block, allowing the shape to be copied into the marble by hand, in the tradition of the Old Masters.

Hammer and chisel methods eventually had to yield to hand-held, rotary abrasives, as the piece became thinner and more fragile. The entire piece was meticulously hand-sanded to achieve the deepest and most-spectacular polished finish.

From the Judges:

“Never before in my 40 years in this industry have I seen anything as creative. Non-traditional choice – we have never chosen a piece of art for an award. This is the type of project that makes one ask ,‘That was done in stone?’”


Bianco Carrara C marble

Natural Stone Institute Honoree:


Mario & Son

Liberty Lake, Wash.

Other Project Team Members

Stone Supplier

Bonotti Stone Trading International

Massimo Galleni Scultore

There's More!