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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight - Deborah Wilson Jade Artist

Teaching the techniques for small scale jade carving will be my mission this summer at Camp Brotherhood. What a great way to celebrate the 25th annual symposium!  DW_Head_Shot

The workshops held there in the late 90s were very popular and I expect there will be a lot of interest again. Working small scale for those sculptors who normally focus on monumental works can be a bit like cleansing the palate! What better in the middle of a long project, than to create a lovely bangle or pendant in translucent jades of many hues. Wyoming olives, Canadian chromite laden beauties from Kutcho and Cassiar B.C. will be offered for sale with my recommendations for selecting the perfect piece of jade for the ideas you have for jewelry or small carvings.

smdwjadeWe are all accustomed to tool making. I will be pleased to share with the group the way to convert a drill press into a "point carver." This has proven to be the most versatile piece of equipment for jade artists that focus on small and medium sized pieces. I hope to have 2 of them there for the workshop.

A larger jade carving of my own will be brought to the workshop to demonstrate the carving process, and tooling involved.

I will be pleased to have this opportunity to encourage those interested to pursue the art of carving jade. The renaissance is still in the making! For example, the Jade Symposium, an online global competition, was held last summer with amazing results. This year's event is unfolding as I write this, with a follow-up story to relay at the Camp Brotherhood workshop.

For more information go to my website: www.jadesymposium.com
Or email me at: www.deborahwilson.bc.ca

See you in July! Deborah

George Pratt Artist Spotlight March 2012

Calling All Sculptors. . . . !  smgeorgeatwork

This is George Pratt, a dusty senior citizen sculptor in stone from Vancouver, Canada—an old face around the NWSSA (charter member) and still excited about another symposium in July.

 

Over a busy career beginning in 1970, I've carved most stones that sculptors will encounter. I'm not your world's great sculptor (although I get it right now and again) but along the way I acquired a lot of experience carving and I'm still discovering the best tools and methods to make it happen. I take pleasure in showing others how it's done and folks around the NWSSA say I have a knack for it. Speaking of discovering, the main pleasure for me has been discovering an aspiring new sculptor at every symposium, who has talent beyond what I could ever hope for. Who will it be this year?

 

‘Rejuvenation’ by George PrattNow, to the business of Brotherhood 2012. Having produced my share of public artworks, I've concluded that granite is the ultimate stone for the job. So this year, it's all about granite carving—with an emphasis on preparing sculptors for "the big one." There are lots of tricks and lots of traps about granite carving. Above all it's hard, dirty work and it will defeat you if you don't work smart—and about working smart, there is much, much to learn. Come sit in on the workshops. Bring whatever tools you now have, along with problems and questions. Granite carving is all about problem solving. Among other things, we will be carving a group project in granite. Good news is that I'm all for light-hearted instruction—so we'll have a little fun and who knows what we might hammer out together. See you there!

Artist Spotlight - Karen Ryer

Funery Cat
by Karen Ryer
As a lawyer, I spent many, many years on the front lines of civil rights law in the San Francisco Bay Area. I retired to devote myself to learning the art of stone carving and to our two small companies (Stone Sculptors Supplies and Withywindle Gallery) here in Guerneville, California, heart of the Sonoma County wine country. I also teach beginning carving at our full service stone carving studio.
The most interesting commission work I get is from Funeria Gallery in a nearby community of Graton. The gallery specializes in art which honors folks and animals who have died.
Three years ago, I was commissioned to do the cat in the picture on this page. It was for a couple’s cat that died, and is carved from Carrara marble, hollowed out, and now holds the cat ashes. I had to get a certain expression on the cat’s face—smugness….I hope I succeeded. The couple seems quite happy with the results.
Currently, I am commissioned to do an Atlantic Puffin for human ashes. This is a real challenge, since I have to get the shape of the bird on the outside, and hollow out the inside to hold a substantial amount of ashes—humans are larger than cats. I am doing it out of Italian arabescoto marble, and enjoying learning about puffins, a bird I was not familiar with.
In addition to my commission work, our gallery and our stone and tool supply company keep me busy, and of course, the obligatory buying trips to Italy for stone and tools are an added adventure. My advice: keep on reinventing yourself and you’ll never get old.
Funery Cat 
by Karen Ryer  Karen Ryer

As a lawyer, I spent many, many years on the front lines of civil rights law in the San Francisco Bay Area. I retired to devote myself to learning the art of stone carving and to our two small companies (Stone Sculptors Supplies and Withywindle Gallery) here in Guerneville, California, heart of the Sonoma County wine country. I also teach beginning carving at our full service stone carving studio.

The most interesting commission work I get is from Funeria Gallery in a nearby community of Graton. The gallery specializes in art which honors folks and animals who have died.

Three years ago, I was commissioned to do the cat in the picture on this page. It was for a couple’s cat that died, and is carved from Carrara marble, hollowed out, and now holds the cat ashes. I had to get a certain expression on the cat’s face—smugness….I hope I succeeded. The couple seems quite happy with the results.
"Funery Cat" Carrara Marble, 16" High
Currently, I am commissioned to do an Atlantic Puffin for human ashes. This is a real challenge, since I have to get the shape of the bird on the outside, and hollow out the inside to hold a substantial amount of ashes—humans are larger than cats. I am doing it out of Italian arabescoto marble, and enjoying learning about puffins, a bird I was not familiar with. 

In addition to my commission work, our gallery and our stone and tool supply company keep me busy, and of course, the obligatory buying trips to Italy for stone and tools are an added adventure. My advice: keep on reinventing yourself and you’ll never get old.

Artist Spotlight - Synergy by Candyce Garrett

Synergy
by Candyce Garrett
syn.er.gy
noun
The interaction or cooperation of 2 or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
Synergy is the interaction of softness in curves and circles with a sharp, angular design piercing through, and red and black granites to emphasize the boldness of the design. My fascination with attempting to soften granite led me to designing something everyone could identify and interpret in their own way.
Once I had a design in mind, I drilled and broke a 6’ x 8 1/2” square African black granite slab with pins and wedges into an irregular circle. After finding the center and drawing circles to represent a target, I cut out a 14” diameter hole with my hydraulic chain saw. I then plunged the tip of the saw 2 1/2” around the inside circle and 3 1/2” deep on the outside circle. In order to soften the look, I used a diamond cup wheel to grind out the saw marks on the inner circle, then polished up to 3000 grit. I also polished the raised circles for contrast..
The red arrow, 8” thick, was cut with the chainsaw, then shaped with a 4 1/2”grinder and 4 1/2” diamond blade. The point of the arrow and the outside fan shape of the arrow were recessed, pinned and glued 1” into the black granite. The 2 pieces within the target were cut and shaped to fit between the raised areas to give the illusion the arrow is piercing through the black granit target.
Synergy
by Candyce Garrett  Candyce Garrett
syn.er.gy
noun
The interaction or cooperation of 2 or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

Synergy is the interaction of softness in curves and circles with a sharp, angular design piercing through, and red and black granites to emphasize the boldness of the design. My fascination with attempting to soften granite led me to designing something everyone could identify and interpret in their own way.

Once I had a design in mind, I drilled and broke a 6’ x 8 1/2” square African black granite slab with pins and wedges into an irregular circle. After finding the center and drawing circles to represent a target, I cut out a 14” diameter hole with my hydraulic chain saw. I then plunged the tip of the saw 2 1/2” around the inside circle and 3 1/2” deep on the outside circle. In order to soften the look, I used a diamond cup wheel to grind out the saw marks on the inner circle, then polished up to 3000 grit. I also polished the raised circles for contrast..
"Synergy" African Black Granite & Texas Red Granite, 8' x 6' x8"
The red arrow, 8” thick, was cut with the chainsaw, then shaped with a 4 1/2”grinder and 4 1/2” diamond blade. The point of the arrow and the outside fan shape of the arrow were recessed, pinned and glued 1” into the black granite. The 2 pieces within the target were cut and shaped to fit between the raised areas to give the illusion the arrow is piercing through the black granite target.

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.