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Originally published October 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 20, 2007 at 2:00 AM

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Sphere honors group's global projects

In December, children of Kent will be able to think globally and act locally by pushing around a 13,600 pound granite sphere suspended in...

Special to The Seattle Times

Granite sphere facts

Location: 211 Second Ave. N. in Kent

Sphere weight: 13,600 pounds

Sphere diameter: 62 inches

The weight of the granite block shipped to Seattle:40,000 pounds

Sphere material: Tropical green granite from India

Cost: $500,000

Remnants from carving out the sphere were given to a church in Seattle's Rainier Valley for paving a walkway.

Seattle Solstice, the company that is making Kent's granite sphere, also made the granite sphere located at Green River Community College in Auburn.

Source: Stuart Kendall and Jason Clauson of Seattle Solstice

In December, children of Kent will be able to think globally and act locally by pushing around a 13,600 pound granite sphere suspended in gushing water at the new Kent Town Square.

The giant green ball will honor a century of past and future Rotary International commitments to global projects such as polio vaccinations and water purification in third-world countries.

The Kent Noon Rotary got the ball rolling (so to speak) two years ago when they were looking for a way to honor and celebrate Rotary International's centennial.

"We needed a project that would have a long-lasting, positive impact on our community," said Billy Graham, past president of the Kent Noon Rotary. "This gigantic ball will be the centerpiece of Town Square, where it will bring out the kid in everyone."

The Kent Noon Rotary had considered putting in a bench before they saw that the granite sphere at Green River Community College in Auburn was so popular with local kids.

The club received a $250,000 parks grant from Kent, $200,000 in materials and services from Stuart Kendall of Seattle Solstice, the sphere maker. The Kent Noon and Sunrise Rotarians raised $50,000.

"We wanted to do something much larger than we'd done before," Kendall said. "There's also a history of lifetime Rotarians in my family, so this is an opportunity for us to do something special to honor my uncle and grandfather."

Because Kendall couldn't find a local piece of granite big enough to make the six-ton sphere, he had brokers looking all over the world for the flawless green granite.

Spheres can rotate only if they're hewn from rocks without cracks, indentations or other flaws.

The block was found in Kerala, India, and was shipped to the Port of Seattle.

Boyer Barge, a neighbor of Seattle Solstice studio in Southpark, brought the block to Kendall and his stepson, Jason Clauson.

The process to craft the sphere wasn't easy. A computer controlled diamond-beaded wire saw was used to cut a 22,000 pound cylinder from the block. The wire saw moves 2 inches per hour and it took 90 hours to cut the cylinder from the block.

Clauson and Kendall then upended the cylinder and used a six-axis computer controlled bridge saw to cut and shape the sphere from the cylinder.

The artisans had to rebuild and modify several pieces of equipment to accommodate the size of the Kent sphere.

Next, they will polish the sphere and set it into a socket that has water pumped through it, allowing the ball to rotate easily.

On Dec. 1, the sphere, which is green to reflect the grass and environment surrounding it at Kent Town Square, will be lifted by crane onto a large truck and moved to Kent.

Kendall and Clauson, who are surrounded by boulders of jade, granite and limestone, among others, also are making sphere-water sculptures for the Bellevue Rotary and for businesses, but none are as large or colorful as the Kent Rotary's stone.

"It takes 10,000 years for a granite sphere to wear down by one inch," Kendall said. "This ball will be floating for as long as Kent exists, and we'll all be safely dead by the time it has any problems."

DeAnn Rossetti is a Maple Valley freelance writer: archer34@aol.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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