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About NWSSA... from NWSSA members

Mark Andrew
Patty McPhee


 Hello fellow carvers.

The Suttle Lake Symposium was again a wonderful experience. I originally thought I would drive up for a few days at most, then I was asked to be a wandering carver guy, then in the end to guide the beginning stone carvers.

Mark 2014Turns out that 90% of the beginners were graduates of Lee Imonen’s college sculpture class and did not need much input from me. Their enthusiasm was so encouraging that by week’s end I asked several to contact me, so I could hire them in the studio from time to time. No bites yet.....

There are many aspects of symposiums that I love. One of the most exciting is the upward jolt of the “learning curve” during and after each event. I cannot imagine an educational opportunity where you can learn so much in such a short amount of time.

This year, the stars lined up through the symposium and into a commission that I tackled with the new knowledge I had just acquired at our gathering. I had the chance to observe many participants carving hard stone. How they positioned the work, the use of water in grinding, the blades used, even “flaming” the surface of Basalt....I saw it all right there on the field!

Soon after I arrived home, so did my first basalt commission. A 16 square foot, 8 ft by 2 ft, slab of stone to be relief carved into a creek landscape with a flowing stream dropping off into a swimming pool. A very stiff springboard!

Thanks to the lessons I had learned from my fellow carvers, and the availability of Jared Monaghan from CONCUT diamond products, who provided a wealth of knowledge and products, plus the encouragement of Tom Urban to buy, buy, buy……….I was well prepared!

My, oh, my, I even reached back to Stu’s Jacobson’s Silver Falls lecture over a decade ago. He taught us about water features, especially regarding the sounds of falling water and how they can be manipulated by how the surface is cut. I used it all on this first basalt attempt.

Wouldn’t you know it, the sketch and carving made it into a world-wide pool and spa magazine called Aqua! (Although they did not mention my name, go figure.) Oh well, a step forward, a half step back. I am pleased stone carving made a national appearance.

Today although there appear to be few requests for stone carving, I feel richly rewarded to be able to satisfy what demand is brought to me. Commissions are not turned down lightly and the “earn while you learn” philosophy is just as alive in me today as it was in the beginning 44 years ago.

So Hurray for the NWSSA and its outreach and symposia! I am a better and more prepared sculptor because of YOU!

Many Thanks,

Mark Andrew



Patty for G3 websiteI just got my issue of Sculpture NorthWest and as usual, I took it to a corner and read it front to back. I read the messages from fellow sculptors who have shaped my artistic life; about how NWSSA has influenced them as artists.

From the moment that Jan Brown helped me to re-imagine art in a 3 dimensional way, I have been hooked on sculpture. And when Everett DuPen pressed me to experience stone carving - I found my artistic home. This organization has been the inspiration for so much of my art that I would have been lost to have tried to find my way without it. NWSSA has been the incubator and fertilizer that has given me the focus, tools and skills to reach into my heart and soul to make solid my dreams. For those who are searching for a way to express your inner-most self, I have found no place or group that has the resources, skills and heart that are found in this organization. I am thrilled to call NWSSA my family and my home.

Patty McPhee
Art Makes It All Worthwhile