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If as a NWSSA member, you could take 3-4 hours in one day to learn something about the carving of stone and the creation of sculpture - what would it be? Al Mangold demonstrates his simple and inexpensve chisel forge

That was the question asked at the July 2013 Board meeting. The result, after 103 people gave us their opinions was to schedule workshops scattered over the next year that addressed their desire to meet other carvers and learn.

By the time you read this the Sharpening Tools, Working with Marenakos, Pedestal Building, Learning to Photograph Your Sculpture and the Neolithic Stone Warehouse Tour will have been completed. Coming up in 2014 are two soft stone figurative workshops by Sabah Al-Dhaher. First will be Carving the Face and Head on February 15 and on March 15 will be Carving the Human Figure. In the planning stages are: Basics of Carving Marble, Working Hard stone, Combining Stone and Steel, and River Walks – What’s hidden in the stones you find. There are more workshops that have been proposed and that will be put in place as we find instructors and places to hold them. Speaking of places, a big thank you to Al Mangold, Kentaro Kojima, Rich Hestekind, Ken Barnes, Sabah Al-Dhaher and Carl Nelson for opening their studios.And to Randy Zieber from Neolithic Stone and Scott Hackney from Marenakos for opening their businesses.Thanks to all of you for setting aside the time to welcome NWSSA.

In October, the workshop “Sharpening Tools” was held in Ken Barnes Studio. A full house of new and old carvers got to share Al Mangold’s wisdom of sharpening and tempering steel for tools. Some of the less experienced carvers had the opportunity to ask good questions and received good answers. Questions like, “This 1-inch wide flat tooth chisel, when would I use it in carving?” The answer came in the form of a demonstration where we all get to see: how it is used, the trace of the teeth on a new flat surface, how sharpening makes a big difference and that when carving marble it keeps its edge (unless abused on the corner.)

The first weekend in November, Marenakos hosted “Working with Marenakos as a Sculptor,” There were many faces from all over Puget Sound and many new to Marenakos that registered for this guided tour through their stone yard and fabrication facility. Again, it was the casual questions during the tour that revealed information about the “natural shapes of stone” they harvest, how to work their available stone (Especially basalt and granite). Kentaro was our host and if you ever want anything from Marenakos he will be the NWSSA contact. Rich Hestekind also accompanied the group in the walk thru the yard and his 20 year plus history of working with big and hard stone from Marenakos was invaluable. An example he gave of when to use their fabrication capabilities was in having Marenakos do the “butt” cut – i.e. making a flat cut for the bottom of a large piece. Rich thinks of it as a huge time-saver.

After these two workshops I asked Lisa Svircic, a new NWSSA member to comment about her experience and here is what she said:

“As someone who is new to NWSSA and fairly new to sculpting, the workshops I've attended have been very helpful and encouraging. NWSSA members are fun and welcoming people with a ton of knowledge that is freely shared and this makes these workshops so invaluable to sculptors of all skill levels. It's nice to have the opportunity to learn from more experienced artists who encourage you to ask questions and expand your skills.”

If you know someone who is interested learning more about stone carving, these workshops would be good for them to attend, but even us older crusty carvers can get something out of them as Pat Barton said, “There is always something new to learn! There are things that I have forgotten, and things that I needed to be reminded of. These workshops have done that, and allowed me to meet new people and talk with friends that I don't see that often.”