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Artist Spotlight

Elena Engelsen In Conversation With Tone Ørvik

Elena Engelsen In Conversation With Tone Ørvik
Elena Engelsen is Norway’s foremost sculptor of animals. Modeled in clay, and executed in stone or bronze, Engelsen’s animal sculptures invite us to look at the physical particularities of their species – the shell of the armadillo, the stance of a watchful lizard – and to experience the singular animal’s existence and vulnerability at the same time. Her sculptures evoke compassion, not sentimentality or an anthropomorphic emotionality. They challenge us to understand more about each species and the infinite diversity of nature – from the giant bronze tiger outside Oslo’s Central Station to the curled up little mouse in stone, a snail, a crocodile.
Gallerist BjOrn Li writes about the vulnerability in Elena Engelsen’s sculptures, “Never previously has a creature such as Engelsen’s Tube-nosed Fruit Bat appeared in art, suspended by its claws, the bat is depicted with its wings wrapped around its body, while the green eyes shine, sphinx-like, from an unprotected head, having none of the Egyptian sphinx’s authority, it is vulnerable to attack by its enemies even as it is suspended within the parody of an armour.”
Interviewed over the phone, Elena is warm, charming and down to earth, and generously willing to share her experience as a sculptor.
TØ: How did you get started as a sculptor?
EE: I’ve had a strong feeling for the materials since I was little. My father was a wood carver, and my two sisters and I got involved in the carving process very early. I interned at the School for Art and Crafts in Oslo for a couple of years, before I moved to the Netherlands and learned to carve stone at a stone carving business in Amsterdam. They started me out pitching corners for building stones. All we had was an angle grinder; everything else we did by hand. It was heavy, but really fun.
TØ: This is interesting for us here in the States, since we tend to use large power tools.
EE: I was fortunate to learn a craft, to learn techniques for carving right, “with air in your arm pits.” I created small models in clay, and learned how to enlarge them by two or three sizes for stone; using midpoints and sawing into the stone with an angle grinder, and then pitching the form.
TØ: You were in effect an apprentice?
EE: Yes, and I learned how to carve inscriptions, which has been a great benefit. When I returned to Norway after seven years, I got work at a gravestone company in Oslo, and did stone lettering for a living. When I got together with Per Ung (TØ: established Norwegian figurative sculptor), he encouraged me to quit the job and concentrate on my own work. We have been married for many years, and have worked together on large public projects. He also encouraged me to do molds of my stone sculptures for bronzes, to make a better living as a sculptor. Without him, I am not certain that I would have dared to do it, because I was insecure about my own work.
TØ: You have exhibited since 1977 and your commissions are all over Norway. What has it been like for you as a woman sculptor? What about children, for example?
EE: Per and I have a son who is 22 now. When he was little, I was home with him and modeled clay at the kitchen counter. As he was growing up, I adapted to his schedule and worked a few hours a day. To me it has been a very positive experience to be a woman sculptor. Of course, it’s easier for men, physically, but we have tools now that help us.
TØ: You still work mostly by hand?
EE: I use the angle grinder, but I do almost everything else by hand. Polishing. Especially with wet-dry paper which folds beautifully in your hand. My sculptures are too detailed; they don’t lend themselves to Alpha tools. It is better to do it by hand. But it has destroyed my arms, somewhat. Modeling in clay can give you problems, too, with tendonitis. Though working on the PC is worse, isn’t it? I did start using pneumatic tools, which made everything easier, but took some of the charm away.
TØ: It’s easy to lose some of the intimate, direct connection with the stone that way.
EE: Yes. Since I am not concerned with being faithful to the model, I like the way the sculpture is formed and keeps changing while it’s underway. Stone will have its own expression and you adapt to the stone and its structure and what it gives. We need to let the stone talk for a bit. It has to be part of the expression and the decisions.
TØ: What kind of stone do you use?
EE: I use softer stones like marble, and also a Belgian/Irish stone called hardsteen, which is calcified clay. It comes from under the ground and it smells a little bad, but it gives great variety of color depending on how you polish it.
TØ: Do you use a model every time?
EE: Always. I travel to different zoos, perhaps with an idea in mind, and model the clay model based on what I see. I also have a whole lot of books about animals.
TØ: Why animals?
EE: Because it is what I feel that I am good at. There is so much texture and tactility in the animal world. I grew up with animals and feel connected to them. Where I grew up, there were horses and dogs, and farm animals. My sense for exotic animals was awakened when my parents brought home a turtle!
TØ: What about sculpting people?
EE: I tried, but I prefer animals. I call myself an animalist. You feel it, what your strength is, and what you are good at, what you lean towards and what grabs your attention.
TØ: What is next for you?
EE: I have some private commissions, in bronze.
TØ: Are people more interested in bronze than stone?
EE: People know that stone is original, and costs more. Also, bronze can be repaired more easily if anything happens.
TØ: In the States it is now more common to have bronzes done in India and stone in China.
EE: That wouldn’t work for me; I need to work in the mediums. I never use assistants. I do all the work myself in stone, and I work directly with the foundry. You need to go through the process.
TØ: Would you say that you are moving more towards bronze?
EE: Yes, it has to do with the fear that I could really hurt my arms.
TØ: So many people ask how long it takes to complete a sculpture.
EE: I once carved a sculpture in a summer, 7 to 9 weeks. It is a slow process, but it is important to be impatient. You can’t be too patient when you work with stone! It is no fun to get stuck with a sculpture for years – get it done.
TØ: Are there any animalier sculptors who inspire you?
EE: Rembrandt Bugatti, who worked in the zoo in Antwerp. He is my great hero. We work completely differently, but I admire him.
TØ: Your animal sculptures are soulful. You show some of them resting, but they look as though they are about to awaken. There is so much motion in your sculpture.
EE: It is important to me to express their vulnerability. Like the Armadillo: It is secure inside the shell, but it falls asleep and you see how vulnerable that makes it. You see it in the gaze of animals, and it’s important to study the mimicry and try to express that.
TØ: Do you have animals yourself?
EE: We’ve had cats and dogs, now I only have two old cats.
TØ: What kind of advice would you have for people who work in stone?
EE: It can be difficult to make the choice to become a sculptor. Yet, for some it is just something thatyou have to do, it isn’t a choice – it is your way in the world, and you don’t think much about the alternatives. It is who you are, what you have to work with. When I was a teenager, I was so certain that I was never going to do anything in art, and here I am …. You have to believe in yourself and what you do. Getting encouragement is important. What you do may not appeal to others, but you have to stick to it. You know the feeling when you “get” it and it’s flowing.
To see more of Elena Engelsen’s work, go to www.elenaengelsen.com
Elena Engelsen In Conversation With Tone Ørvik
Conversation with Elena Engelsen
Elena Engelsen is Norway’s foremost sculptor of animals. Modeled in clay, and executed in stone or bronze, Engelsen’s animal sculptures invite us to look at the physical particularities of their species – the shell of the armadillo, the stance of a watchful lizard – and to experience the singular animal’s existence and vulnerability at the same time. Her sculptures evoke compassion, not sentimentality or an anthropomorphic emotionality. They challenge us to understand more about each species and the infinite diversity of nature – from the giant bronze tiger outside Oslo’s Central Station to the curled up little mouse in stone, a snail, a crocodile.

Gallerist Bjorn Li writes about the vulnerability in Elena Engelsen’s sculptures, “Never previously has a creature such as Engelsen’s Tube-nosed Fruit Bat appeared in art, suspended by its claws, the bat is depicted with its wings wrapped around its body, while the green eyes shine, sphinx-like, from an unprotected head, having none of the Egyptian sphinx’s authority, it is vulnerable to attack by its enemies even as it is suspended within the parody of an armour.”

Interviewed over the phone, Elena is warm, charming and down to earth, and generously willing to share her experience as a sculptor.
"Tube-Nosed Fruit Bat", Marble and Bronze
TØ: How did you get started as a sculptor?
EE: I’ve had a strong feeling for the materials since I was little. My father was a wood carver, and my two sisters and I got involved in the carving process very early. I interned at the School for Art and Crafts in Oslo for a couple of years, before I moved to the Netherlands and learned to carve stone at a stone carving business in Amsterdam. They started me out pitching corners for building stones. All we had was an angle grinder; everything else we did by hand. It was heavy, but really fun.

TØ: This is interesting for us here in the States, since we tend to use large power tools.
EE: I was fortunate to learn a craft, to learn techniques for carving right, “with air in your arm pits.” I created small models in clay, and learned how to enlarge them by two or three sizes for stone; using midpoints and sawing into the stone with an angle grinder, and then pitching the form.

TØ: You were in effect an apprentice?
EE: Yes, and I learned how to carve inscriptions, which has been a great benefit. When I returned to Norway after seven years, I got work at a gravestone company in Oslo, and did stone lettering for a living. When I got together with Per Ung (TØ: established Norwegian figurative sculptor), he encouraged me to quit the job and concentrate on my own work. We have been married for many years, and have worked together on large public projects. He also encouraged me to do molds of my stone sculptures for bronzes, to make a better living as a sculptor. Without him, I am not certain that I would have dared to do it, because I was insecure about my own work.

TØ: You have exhibited since 1977 and your commissions are all over Norway. What has it been like for you as a woman sculptor? What about children, for example?
EE: Per and I have a son who is 22 now. When he was little, I was home with him and modeled clay at the kitchen counter. As he was growing up, I adapted to his schedule and worked a few hours a day. To me it has been a very positive experience to be a woman sculptor. Of course, it’s easier for men, physically, but we have tools now that help us.

TØ: You still work mostly by hand?
EE: I use the angle grinder, but I do almost everything else by hand. Polishing. Especially with wet-dry paper which folds beautifully in your hand. My sculptures are too detailed; they don’t lend themselves to Alpha tools. It is better to do it by hand. But it has destroyed my arms, somewhat. Modeling in clay can give you problems, too, with tendonitis. Though working on the PC is worse, isn’t it? I did start using pneumatic tools, which made everything easier, but took some of the charm away.

TØ: It’s easy to lose some of the intimate, direct connection with the stone that way.
EE: Yes. Since I am not concerned with being faithful to the model, I like the way the sculpture is formed and keeps changing while it’s underway. Stone will have its own expression and you adapt to the stone and its structure and what it gives. We need to let the stone talk for a bit. It has to be part of the expression and the decisions.

TØ: What kind of stone do you use?
EE: I use softer stones like marble, and also a Belgian/Irish stone called hardsteen, which is calcified clay. It comes from under the ground and it smells a little bad, but it gives great variety of color depending on how you polish it.

TØ: Do you use a model every time?
EE: Always. I travel to different zoos, perhaps with an idea in mind, and model the clay model based on what I see. I also have a whole lot of books about animals.

TØ: Why animals?
EE: Because it is what I feel that I am good at. There is so much texture and tactility in the animal world. I grew up with animals and feel connected to them. Where I grew up, there were horses and dogs, and farm animals. My sense for exotic animals was awakened when my parents brought home a turtle!

TØ: What about sculpting people?
EE: I tried, but I prefer animals. I call myself an animalist. You feel it, what your strength is, and what you are good at, what you lean towards and what grabs your attention.

TØ: What is next for you?
EE: I have some private commissions, in bronze.

TØ: Are people more interested in bronze than stone?
EE: People know that stone is original, and costs more. Also, bronze can be repaired more easily if anything happens.

TØ: In the States it is now more common to have bronzes done in India and stone in China.
EE: That wouldn’t work for me; I need to work in the mediums. I never use assistants. I do all the work myself in stone, and I work directly with the foundry. You need to go through the process.

TØ:
Would you say that you are moving more towards bronze?
EE: Yes, it has to do with the fear that I could really hurt my arms.

TØ:
So many people ask how long it takes to complete a sculpture.
EE: I once carved a sculpture in a summer, 7 to 9 weeks. It is a slow process, but it is important to be impatient. You can’t be too patient when you work with stone! It is no fun to get stuck with a sculpture for years – get it done.

TØ:
Are there any animalier sculptors who inspire you?
EE: Rembrandt Bugatti, who worked in the zoo in Antwerp. He is my great hero. We work completely differently, but I admire him.

TØ: Your animal sculptures are soulful. You show some of them resting, but they look as though they are about to awaken. There is so much motion in your sculpture.
EE: It is important to me to express their vulnerability. Like the Armadillo: It is secure inside the shell, but it falls asleep and you see how vulnerable that makes it. You see it in the gaze of animals, and it’s important to study the mimicry and try to express that.

TØ: Do you have animals yourself?
EE: We’ve had cats and dogs, now I only have two old cats.

TØ: What kind of advice would you have for people who work in stone?
EE: It can be difficult to make the choice to become a sculptor. Yet, for some it is just something thatyou have to do, it isn’t a choice – it is your way in the world, and you don’t think much about the alternatives. It is who you are, what you have to work with. When I was a teenager, I was so certain that I was never going to do anything in art, and here I am …. You have to believe in yourself and what you do. Getting encouragement is important. What you do may not appeal to others, but you have to stick to it. You know the feeling when you “get” it and it’s flowing.

To see more of Elena Engelsen’s work, go to www.elenaengelsen.com

Artist Spotlight - Tamara Buchanan - June 2011

There’s Always Hope
by Tamara Buchanan
What more is there to say? There is always hope: that suffering will end, that compassion will prevail, that the next stone will be more beautiful than the last.
This sculpture is in Verona red marble. I picked up this stone while in Italy carving even though I don’t usually carve highly colored stone. My preference is granite, basalt, white marble, and limestone. It is important to me to use light and dark, shadows, and reflection to help a viewer’s eye move around a sculpture. I often feel wild patterns and bright colors distract from that process in my work. Complex curves made to look simple work very well in this stone.
In the almost 30 years that I have sculpted stone, my work has covered a wide range. I usually have 5 or 6 pieces in process at the same time. Right now in the studio waiting for me are: a basalt fountain ready to be polished, a 5ft tall limestone homage to a cousin who is an Aleut who had to give up her salmon fishing, an abstract in Carrara marble, a garden Kami in limestone, a granite Nose that is 3ft tall, and a marble piece that probably will be some sort of mother and child figure. To make a statement succinctly has always been a goal. Almost all of my work has an organic feel and often when I am through I realize I’ve been working on one of my “issues.” I love to talk through my sculptures; they are often so much more eloquent than I.
Photo Caption: There’s Always Hope’, Italian red marble, 22” X 15” X 4”
There’s Always Hope 
by Tamara Buchanan  
There’s Always Hope’, Italian red marble, 22” X 15” X 4”


What more is there to say? There is always hope: that suffering will end, that compassion will prevail, that the next stone will be more beautiful than the last.This sculpture is in Verona red marble. I picked up this stone while in Italy carving even though I don’t usually carve highly colored stone. My preference is granite, basalt, white marble, and limestone. It is important to me to use light and dark, shadows, and reflection to help a viewer’s eye move around a sculpture. I often feel wild patterns and bright colors distract from that process in my work. Complex curves made to look simple work very well in this stone.

In the almost 30 years that I have sculpted stone, my work has covered a wide range. I usually have 5 or 6 pieces in process at the same time. Right now in the studio waiting for me are: a basalt fountain ready to be polished, a 5ft tall limestone homage to a cousin who is an Aleut who had to give up her salmon fishing, an abstract in Carrara marble, a garden Kami in limestone, a granite Nose that is 3ft tall, and a marble piece that probably will be some sort of mother and child figure. To make a statement succinctly has always been a goal. Almost all of my work has an organic feel and often when I am through I realize I’ve been working on one of my “issues.” I love to talk through my sculptures; they are often so much more eloquent than I.

Autoclaved Cement at Silver Falls

Autoclaved Aerated Cement
Is Coming To Silver Falls
by
Penelope Crittenden
Autoclaved Aerated Cement Is Coming To Silver Falls
by Penelope Crittenden

Carole Murphy, President of Pacific Northwest Sculptors, will be giving a workshop on Sculpting Autoclaved Aerated Cement at the Silver Falls Symposium Aug 27-Sept 1, 2011.

Carole was more than generous with her time on the phone telling me a little more about the medium and its potential.  

Here are some of the things I learned:
Having come from a background of working with various media, including bronze, glass and poured cement, Carole was looking for a lighter medium and spent several months researching different products. She came upon Autoclaved Aerated Cement and liked it for its green qualities (it weighs about 1/5th as much as cement cutting down on transportation costs) as well as its ease of carving.  silverfalls

Not a new medium, having been in use in Europe as a building material since 1910, AAC is enjoying a renaissance as a sculpture medium. It responds well to hand tools of many kinds and can also be worked with powered tools, but they really aren't necessary and there is a more intimate connection with the media without them. AAC is worked best wet as it keeps the dust down so that it can be sculpted without the use of a respirator in a well ventilated area. Several pieces can be put together with a bonding agent, creating the possibility of large sculptures. At $15 dollars for a 24" X 12" X 8" block, it is an affordable material, perfect for maquettes or finished pieces. Some blocks will be for sale at the symposium.
This light weight material in its natural form is quite porous. It can be left that way for a pumice like effect or it can be finished in a variety of ways using metalizing guns that actually spray metal onto the piece, or by using a cement slurry in various applications for a variety of textures. It can be sanded and sealed, dyed and patinized. Molds can be created from it, thereby allowing it to be cast in bronze or other materials. It is one versatile medium.

To learn more about how to work with this interesting material and have hands-on time with it, be sure to look in on Carole's workshop at Silver Falls in September. Carole will be showing slides of her work along with some of her students' works in a presentation in the first part of the symposium.

Contact Carole at 503-235-7233 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. See her work on her website: www.CaroleMurphy.com
See the work of her students at: www.CaroleMurphy.com/studentgallery.htm


About PNWS
Pacific Northwest Sculptors is an organization comprised of sculptors of all media in the NW and those in associated fields. It puts on shows in galleries, museums and art centers and it offers workshops, lectures and art events. Meetings are held monthly in each other's studios offering a chance to exchange ideas and brainstorm with fellow sculptors. Many times they include speakers, demonstrations, lectures and always a studio tour. Member benefits also include exhibition opportunities, exposure on the PNWS online Gallery, discounts on some sculpture supplies, a really good call to artists specific to sculptors, but most importantly the opportunity to meet with other sculptors.
Check out their website! www.pnwsculptors.org

Artist Spotlight - Ken Barnes

Happy Accident  
by Ken Barnes

Clam.
Not quite the one you'll find on a beach. Liberated from a basalt end cut, $100 at Marenakos. Sat in my sketchbook for 7 years; originally an appendage of a planned bench. I have had a hundred bench ideas, a couple of them even good, but I just don't seem to be a bench person. 
I sketch for them, and even buy the stone. Still, I'm benchless in Seattle.  Ken Barnes Tests the Load Bearing Capability of his New 20 Ton Crane

When SouthEast Effective Development (go to: seedseattle.org) asked that I propose an installation for their Rainier Court Pocket Park I pitched a three stone grouping that fit neatly within their budget, complete with plaster maquettes. I sensed there was some play with the budget, so I also offered a photocopy of my sketchbook page, bench cut out, and suggested that if they found more money I could add the clam. Not a great sketch, but it conveyed the character. They demanded the clam, while I raised the budget. My initial blocking out was done too hastily, and I missed the curve I thought I wanted.

However, the striations along the clam body saved me, really making the curve come to life. Another Happy Accident.
"Clam" Part of Igneous Emsemble", Basalt, 30" High

I depend upon the Happy Accident in my work. Serendipity. You must have a prepared and open mind to receive the Happy Accident. In fact, on pieces where there is no Happy Accident, where the piece turns out looking exactly like my visualization, I dislike the sculpture. Not enough surprise? Not enough interplay between me and the stone? Maybe I carve stone for the resistance, and if stones give in without a fight it's just not enough challenge? Do I dislike the outcome of my work if I have carved without a prepared and open mind?
 

Artist Spotlight - Lloyd Whannell

Silent Words #7
by Lloyd Whannell
 
I’ve been working on several series of tall slender figures with limited edition bronze heads on various one of a kind stone bodies, and enjoying the effect of combining different materials. I’ve noticed a number of fellow sculptors combining stone with metal, glass, bronze, and wood, with wonderful results.
 Lloyd Whannell, "Silent Words #7"
This last winter I started carving a piece of Texas limestone for another bronze and stone figure, only to find that the stone had a large, ugly, soft void running thru it that ruined the piece for me. I almost threw it out, but I had so much time already invested that I decided to try and save it.

Timing is the wonder of wonders. Since I was also working on some encaustic pieces for the first time, and always willing to experiment for a good cause, I tried coloring the stone with epoxy pigments thinned with denatured alcohol to cover up the ugly area. Then, I covered those areas with bee's wax to fill the voids and mellow the colorings. A little color, a little wax, back and forth, and I had a new sculpture. I was very happy with the end results and plan to continue the experiment on other pieces.

The wax has a melting point of 140º f so it should hold up outdoors, but I'll wait for my test pieces to go thru a full year before risking the sculpture. I like experimenting - but with a little caution on the side.

I encourage everyone to try something new. Maybe it's been done before, maybe not, but if you haven't done it, it's new for you, and you never know what will happen till you try.
 

Artist Spotlight Meet Betty Sager

Meet Betty Sager

SNW: Tell us a little about yourself. Betty_Sager
BS: I was born and grew up in central British Columbia, raised two lovely children and worked as a bookkeeper for many a year. My husband Wayne and I moved to Abbotsford when the kids where teens and we’ve enjoyed the Fraser Valley ever since. I’ve recently been blessed with my first grandchild, and am enjoying all that he brings to my life every day. I’ve kayaked for many years exploring this great west coast.
 
SNW: What key life experiences affected your direction in art?
BS: I took up carving wood 10 years ago when my husband requested that I help him with a Christmas gift project, which needed a bit of carving. It was fun and he loved that I was spending time with him in the garage/shop. He then bought me some bass wood, which is a soft wood, and a few more chisels. Little did he know we would eventually need both his woodworking shop and a studio for working with stone.
I loved carving right from the start and it soon became an addictive passion. I joined the Central Fraser Valley Woodcarvers Association, a wonderful group of folks that were very helpful.
"Fantasy in Flight"  27" high x 20 wide Purple Pyrophyllite Red Deer Community College had one week carving courses available every summer, where very talented artists taught and introduced students to many styles of carving. When I saw Chris White’s book, Parables: Wood Sculptures, 
I knew I needed to try and work that style, which is very stylized and flowing. It was then that I realized I needed to learn realism in order to carve stylized animals; I needed to know what it should look like in order to “Let it go.”
I continued to take courses, studying and learning under artists like Harvey Welsh, Barry Dennison and Chris White. However, it’s been Chris White who has influenced my style the most and I feel honoured to have worked with him. 
"Parallel Lives"  22” x 22”  Purple Pyrophyllite with quartz veins
SNW: Describe your art in your own terms – focusing on your stone carving.
BS: I’m now working on a series called “Birds in flight,” which I’ve been making more and more delicate with lots of negative space, and parallel lines, trying to find a balance between simplicity and grace in flight. The carved contrails give flight and speed to the birds. This series has been a great joy to produce and and may continue for a while.

SNW: Is it representational and/or non- representational?
BS: I’ve been told that my “Birds in Flight” series is called contemporary realism and could be classified as a “cross over art style.” These are abstract sculptures which flow from the recognizable forms of birds. I hope this recognizable part helps folks transition from enjoying realism to enjoying the abstract with its flow, movement and negative space.
"Soaring Spirit"  30" high x 15" wide Yellow Pyrophyllite
SNW: How do you get your ideas?
BS: I get to know the stone while preparing it for carving, observing it’s various attributes,; I then mould some clay shaping it as though it were my sketch pad, working and reworking it until I like the shape and it works with the characteristics of the stone. I start carving with the beak and then let it go (take flight) from there.

SNW: What are you trying to express?
BS: Great question! I try to capture movement, dance, and grace, I like round flowing parallel lines, negative spaces, simple form and balance. How delicate can it be? Can I entice the viewer to walk around it or turn it?
 "Ghostly Songbirds" 18” high Alabaster
SNW: Do you work part or full time as an artist?
BS: I have the luxury of working as much as I would like or as little as I want, but even when I work at it full time, I don’t consider it work because it’s my passion and so enjoyable.

SNW: What stones do you prefer?
BS: I am currently enjoying Pyrophyllite as it has great colors and seems to be holding up fairly well to my delicate style.
 
SNW: What is your working process – do you do one piece at a time or do you have several in process at once?
BS: I generally don’t allow myself to go on to the next piece until the last piece is complete, as I’m afraid my studio would be full of abandoned partially sanded pieces. I find that the sanding process awakens my creativity for the next piece, or perhaps I just enjoy design, rough-out and the refining stages much more.
"Little Buddy" 18” x 13”  Yellow Pyrophyllite
SNW: What tools do you use?
BS: Ah! Tools – when I started carving in wood, I started with chisels, but before I became proficient with them, my husband bought me a Foredom tool and away I went into the land of power tools. What great fun, and it’s been a journey of discovery ever since. In the first few years, every time I struggled through trying to carve, sand or somehow work a troubled spot… my husband would look over my shoulder and say “ Hmmm perhaps I have something that may help you,”, then proceed to his woodworking shop and bring me the perfect tool for the job. To my delight this process continued for the better part of the next year until he finally showed me his entire collection of tools. Now, years later, I can (on occasion) show him a fabulous tool or two.
I now use air die grinders and electric angle grinders for most of my work, although I just recently bought an air hammer and a few chisels. I was told that if I didn’t carve stone with an air hammer and chisels that I’m missing half the fun, so I‘ll give it a go.
 
SNW: Where do you exhibit your work?
BS: I currently exhibit my work at 3 galleries here in BC: Rendezvous Art Gallery, in Vancouver, Art Gallery in Vancouver, Abbotsford Art Gallery in Abbotsford and QB Arts in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.
 
SNW: Do you teach?
BS: I have taught stone carving at the Shuswap School of Woodcarving and Arts, in the Shuswap Lake recreational area of south,central BC. They offer a one week course each year. I hope to help the wood carvers that are used to using a pattern to design with clay then direct carve.
 "Jonathon & Friends" 30" high  Carrara Marble on Alabaster
SNW: What scale or size do you work in, and do you have a favourite scale?
BS: I like to create pieces that are from 15-36” in height. Would that be coffee table art? They’re all indoor art, so far.
 
SNW: How is your work area set up?
BS: My studio is a converted room in my home directly behind the garage. We changed the electrical, plumbed for water c/w sump, made it water proof and plumbed the compressor and huge dust collector in through the wall. I have lots of light and look out at ground level to our garden.
 
SNW: What have been your satisfactions in your life as an artist?
BS: I enjoyed the reaction from my parents when I carved busts of each of them; they felt honoured. The busts were my first human form carvings, and continue to be treasured and enjoyed. Since then, I found out that it’s always a good idea to first carve a few human forms where you’re making up the expressions and faces, before tackling realistic sculptures of loved ones.
 
SNW: What are you looking forward to?
BS: Isn’t carving all about the next piece? I enjoy the creativity and the anticipation of seeing the completion of each process take shape before my eyes. Perhaps one day I’ll sculpt classic human form style of sculpture. I look forward to giving ageless pieces of stone a chance to shine and be the centre of attention, admired, stroked and enjoyed.
"Gliding in Unison" 27” high  Serpentine or perhaps Nephrite Jade
SNW: Any final words?
B.S. Thank you to NWSSA for introducing me to a whole bunch of kindred spirits. I look forward to many more interesting discussions about design, techniques, philosophy and much more.