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Timothy Walden (Mentor Artist) and Shawn Hughes (Apprentice)

Handmade Stone Marbles

Hughes & Walden

Recipient Information


Monroe County, Kentucky

Project Title

Handmade Stone Marbles

Year of Award


Grant or Fellowship

Folk & Traditional Arts Cross-Border Mentor-Apprentice Teams

Grant Amount


Timothy Walden (Monroe County, KY), Mentor Artist. Timmy Walden is renowned for both making flint marbles and excelling at local marble games Rolley Hole and Tennessee Square. He first learned to make marbles from his uncle and later his father-in-law. His high-quality marbles are used in marble games all over the world.

Shawn Hughes (Overton County, TN), Apprentice. Shawn Hughes has worked as a park ranger and the director of the National Rolley Hole Championship and Festival at Standing Stone State Park in Hilham, Tennessee for 19 years.

Marble games have been an international pastime for millennia, and in South Central Kentucky and North Central Tennessee, two particular marble games—Rolley Hole and Tennessee Square--have been passed generation to generation and continue to thrive. Participants in these games take them seriously and are especially careful to choose high quality, hand-made stone marbles. As Shawn Hughes explains, “The most significant game in this marble tradition is Rolley Hole. Rolley Hole, a game similar to croquet, is played on a cleared dirt yard, constructed from sifted loam soil, that measures 40' by 25', with three holes placed ten feet apart. Teams consist of two players, each attempting to put his marble through a course of twelve holes….Today, players exclusively use locally made flint marbles, the sort which Timmy [Walden] and a few others continue to make. Part of the strategy of this game involves strong shots that knock your opponent's marble far from the given hole. Store bought glass marbles cannot handle this action. The best marbles are the strongest flint marbles with the fewest blemishes.”