By RICHARD F. BELISLE
MARION, Pa. -- Six-year-old Crystal Bittinger caressed the smooth hardness of the polished stone bird and her face lit up.
Crystal, a blind Marion Elementary School first-grader, was "seeing" the sculpture through her fingers. But this bird was special. It was carved by Jim Holsomback, a blind sculptor from Philadelphia.
Holsomback was in her class Wednesday talking about his art.
He pulled pieces of his work from an old cardboard box -- a wooden doll, the bird carved from a single piece of stone, a whimsical carved marble shoe with a mouthpiece that he calls his "shoehorn."
Sarge, Holsomback's seeing-eye dog, fell asleep behind a desk while his master took over the class.
"Jim relates to children. He holds them captive. And he's so vulnerable. He lets them ask anything," said Scott Burkholder, an art teacher who brought Holsomback to the school with money from a special grant.