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85-year-old rocks make fascinating project for Georgian student

You never know what treasures you’ll discover in your Facebook newsfeed. Christina MacBean, a Fine Arts – Advanced student at Georgian College made an interesting find recently.
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GEORGIAN COLLEGE

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You never know what treasures you’ll discover in your Facebook newsfeed.

Christina MacBean, a Fine Arts – Advanced student at Georgian College made an interesting find recently.

MacBean belongs to an international lithography group on Facebook and came across a posting from James Wiley in Coshocton, Ohio, indicating he was selling a number of lithographic rocks used in commercial printing he unearthed while landscaping.

“I got chills when I saw the post on Facebook,” says MacBean. “At first I thought it was a hoax.”

MacBean contacted him immediately and made arrangements for her family to travel to Ohio to examine the rocks.

Wiley had unearthed over 1,000 rocks in a 14 x 10, six-foot-deep hole in a cistern on his property. 

Others had expressed interest in the rocks but MacBean was the first person to make the trek to see the collection.

“James wasn’t exactly sure what he had discovered,” says MacBean. “He did some research and found out his property was located on the site of American Art Works (AAW), a specialty advertising company best known for its popular Coca-Cola trays.”

The AAW made at least 24 different full-sized Coke trays and vast numbers of advertising novelties. In 1926 alone the AAW produced 72 million pieces using limestone rocks.

Limestone rocks were a very cost-effective way to print in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

MacBean says AAW, one of the largest advertising companies in the United States at that time, were also responsible for keeping many people employed during the depression.

MacBean believes the rocks have been resting, protected in the cistern, since 1930 when AAW closed its doors.

Macbean spent over four hours perusing the collection of rocks before choosing 14 to purchase.

She figures she travelled with around 1,000 pounds of limestone in her vehicle with the largest rock weighing around 70 pounds.

She brought back a rock used to print the iconic Coca-Cola artwork.

MacBean is currently trying to clean one of the rocks to see if she can get the image to roll up and print in the Barrie Campus printmaking studio.

She discovered printmaking when she entered the Fine Arts program at Georgian and loves all aspects of it.

“I developed a particular fondness for lithography and it is now my favourite medium,” she says.

“This experience has reinforced some of what I already loved about lithography. It has also enabled me to find new ways to do things. The fact that I’m going to have the opportunity to play with these rocks and see what I can do with them is incredible.”

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