« Pageviews | Home | What is it? »

November 8, 2018

Foamhenge

Foamhenge

From Atlas Obscura:

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

The life-size Stonehenge replica with its 14-foot-tall foam-stone pillars (above and below) is located at Cox Farms in northern Virginia.

Foamhenge is the creation of Mark Cline, a Virginia artist.

Image

The pillars, which resemble rock, are made from styrofoam.

Originally built as an April Fools' joke in 2004 in Natural Bridge, Virginia, since then it has become an obligatory roadside stop for thousands of travelers.

It was featured in a GEICO commercial, seen in the television crime drama NCIS, and even used as a question in Jeopardy.

Cline has never been to Stonehenge himself, so he went online to study each rock of the ancient site to ensure it was as accurate as possible.

It took him six weeks and about $10,000 to construct.

In 2017, Cline and Cox made a deal to bring Foamhenge to the family farm on one condition.

"If you want to build a replica of Stonehenge, it's gotta work," Cline says.

Many modern-day researchers believe that Stonehenge was built to tell time, essentially as a rudimentary solar calendar.

It's thought it was constructed in stages, starting around 3000 BCE and was finished in 1500 BCE.

It was a time when humans were just learning how to farm, and it's thought that Stonehenge helped them predict seasons, solstices, and even eclipses.

So, when Cox brought Foamhenge to the farm, he called a professional to help.

He wanted to ensure the replica was set up exactly the way our ancient ancestors intended it. 

Image-2

Harold Geller (above) is the Observatory Director at nearby George Mason University, and he was just the type of person Lucas Cox was looking for.

Foamhenge might seem like an odd job, but Geller has consulted on couple of other unique projects in the region.

Stonehenge has held a special place in his heart ever since he visited the original when he was a graduate student.

"We forget that our ancestors really were watchful of the night sky," says Geller, "If these ancient civilizations, whoever they were, used foam instead of stone, it would have still worked the same!"

For Foamhenge to work like its predecessor, Geller needed to see the site on the summer solstice.

So, just before sunrise on June 21, 2017, Geller met Cox at the farm. 

"He brought his sextant out and we watched the sun come up. It was great," Cox says, excitedly remembering that early morning meeting. "We wouldn’t be doing it justice if we just dropped it in the ground somewhere. We had to get it astronomically correct."

The two men waited for the sun to peek over the horizon and quickly marked the place where each foam piece would stand.

Then, a short time later, three flatbed trucks packed with styrofoam barreled down the highway from Natural Bridge to Cox Farms.

Each foam piece weighs approximately 400 pounds.

That's nothing compared to 25 tons, the average weight per stone of the original.

But foam still poses unique challenges.

"Foam is difficult to work with because a lot of different things eat foam," says Alicia Smith, Cox Farms's art director and the person entrusted to keep Foamhenge "foam-nomenal." "You can't use spray paint on it because there's acetone in spray paint. Acetone eats foam."

Smith has her work cut out for her. Kids like to poke everything… including Foamhenge.

Curious critters like skunks and foxes have burrowed into the foam for shelter.

And unpredictable weather, like last year's hail storm, doesn't help.

"It looked like someone went through and just threw golf balls at it," says Smith, “It looked polka-dotted almost because we had so much hail."

Image-1

Every year, Alicia touches up the artwork with 35 gallons of paint — Behr's "Dark Granite" to be exact.

It's a surprising amount of maintenance for styrofoam, which can take centuries to decompose in a landfill.

November 8, 2018 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


Comments

Post a comment