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Past Shows

Sculptor's Showcase - May/June 2008

It is always a pleasure to attend an opening of one our fellow sculptors, to see their new works and lend our spiritual support. All the more so when forming a carpool with friends who otherwise may not, by themselves, drive from Seattle to Everett to see an art opening. A group of us made that drive especially to see the opening of Reg Akright’s “Artist of the Year” show given by the Snohomish Arts Council.


Arriving early, we studied the larger works on the main floor. Climbing then up to the charming, wrought iron, balconied mezzanine, we admired Reg’s many smaller sculptures that showcased his years of dedication to his craft. The atmosphere was filled with soft live jazz music and a luscious array of hors d'oeuvres. By the time we left, it was elbow room only with supporters and plenty of sales. By the time the show ended on April 17, Reg had sold several pieces including the two at the top of this page. Congratulations, Reg.


Another show you can still go see is at the Art Mine Gallery at the Inn at Port Hadlock. This peninsula town is just five crow miles south of Port Townsend.


Featured there is NWSSA’s own Arliss Newcomb, who spent a warm spring carving with Joanne Duby at Art City in Ventura, California. Joanne has helped Arliss acquire a new style of carving. Arliss and her sculptures will be showing at the Art Mine through the month of June.

Please let us know in advance about the shows you are going to have so we can promote you as well.


And I want to remind you about our Annual Members Exhibit at Seattle’s Kirsten Gallery, September 5 through October 7, 2008. You have all summer, including Camp B, to produce a sculpture for inside and one for outside. Contact me, Leon White at: 206-362-2231 or email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A New Member's Take on Pack Forest - July/Aug 2008

The weather was wild for much of the weekend, but even the frequent and heavy rains failed to dampen the spirits of the carvers at the 2008 NWSSA Hand carving Symposium. Under the pavilion at the Pack Forest Conference Center, and around the campfire beside it, we all shared an incredible weekend of fellowship and artistry.


Everyone who attended the event brought his or her warm spirits, funny stories, and unique artistic talents. Although many of us had never met before, we soon began to bond as a group. By the end of the symposium, it felt like we were all old friends.


The instructors were fantastic to work with, each with a wide range of insights and advice to offer. At least a few of us were carving stone for the very first time, and each instructor took the time to circulate among all of us. It was a pleasure to become acquainted with each of them, as they visited us at our workstations. But it was equally exciting to have a chance to watch them at work, and ask them questions about technique, from that perspective as well.


Karl Hufbauer played roles as event director and instructor. True to his reputation as a carver of hard stone, Karl chipped away at a big piece of jasper for much of that weekend. Although we were primarily carving softer stone, it was great to be able to get some advice from Karl about working hard stone, as well.


Tracy Powell gave me my first instruction, showing me some basic removal techniques on a large chunk of Texas limestone. He demonstrated the use of several types of chisels, and offered advice on how to grip the tools comfortably and safely. He also stressed the importance of good posture, taking frequent breaks and stretching out periodically in order to ward off fatigue.


Sharon Feeney, like the other instructors, was generous not only with her time but with her talent and her tools. Sharon’s subtle treatment of a tall obelisk of soapstone, transforming it into a graceful figure of a Great Blue Heron at rest, was amazing to watch. While taking breaks from carving, she was very supportive and encouraging to all of us newcomers.


Arliss Newcomb gave me two beautiful pieces of alabaster, the larger one of which I carved that weekend. It was a slab roughly the size and shape of a big footprint, and first reminded me of the surf crashing on the beach. In the end, I named it Madrona for the tree-form I ended up carving out of it. I was amazed to flip through Arliss’ portfolio. I found her work extremely inspiring.


Rich Andler and Lane Tompkins also proved to be great mentors and artists in their own rights. All of the instructors, mentors, and students alike, helped to make this a wonderful event.


Scott Hackney and Kentaro Kojima of Marenakos Rock Center in Issaquah, Washington brought some of their stone as well as a pallet from Randy Zieber of BC, Canada and one from Art City in Ventura California. Kentaro manned the sales desk for most of the weekend to sell us stone, tools, books and a variety of carving accessories.


On Saturday, activities included a blacksmithing lesson on tool making, offered by Al Mangold, one our first time carvers. Later that afternoon, Karl and Tracy gave a lesson on scoring and pitching techniques, in which they selected a boulder of granite, and proceeded to remove substantial chunks of the stone with apparent ease, using a large chisel and mallet.


Any re-telling of the weekend’s highlights would be incomplete without an account of Saturday night’s auction! It was my pleasure to serve as a sort of assistant to Tom Francis, our Auctioneer and Master of Ceremonies. We had a ton of fun that night, clowning about and raising money for NWSSA’s instructors and the work-study program, which enables people like me to attend these events and get connected with the organization.


Toward the end of the evening, Lane and Scott provided lots of laughs for all of us, by performing their annual waltz, in kilts and boots! Truly, an unforgettable sight!


All who attended the symposium are fine artists and fabulous people. I only wish that there had been more time to get to know more of you in greater detail.


I feel so fortunate to have been a part of it all, and was a little sad when it was over. I hope to be able to attend Camp Brotherhood, in July. I look forward to seeing you all again, and thank each and every one of you for a Pack Forest experience that I will always remember.

Could You Pass Me That Thingy? It All Happened at Silver Falls - Sept/Oct 2008

Feature interviews have taken Cathy Rae Smith from the Parisian couture house of Yves Saint Laurent to private tete a tetes with the likes of Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, David Yurman and Oscar de la Renta. She divides her energies between writing and creating contemporary art, stone carving being her most recent fascination. She is also a two-time Knight Scholar and a Fashion Group International Scholar.


The lure of carving stone alongside seasoned sculptors goes without saying. As if that is not inducement enough, factor in the splendor of a natural forest setting complete with multiple waterfalls, a cabin and three hot meals per day . . . well, count me in!

Little did I know my adventure into the wild world of stone carving, an addictive preoccupation I have found, would begin with such a bang. That bang came in the form of my car suffering a complete meltdown on Highway 22, just a few miles past Salem and shortly before the turn to Silver Falls. My first “camp” day was spent instead languishing for four hours in a hot car, eating a pack of saltine crackers, and hanging my feet out the open window to feel the breeze of traffic quickly whizzing past. After a long tow back to Portland and a kind friend offering me a ride the following day, I finally arrived and settled in to the distinctive tempo - chip, chip, chip, grind, grind, grind, eat, sleep, repeat.

Clouds of marble dust heightened the perpetual fogging of my safety glasses. However, Alex remedied the condensation issues, as it turned out, by providing me a decent dust mask if I promised to throw away the pitiful excuse for a mask I had been using. After that solution, I kept forgetting whether my safety glasses were even on until I would occasionally feel a chip bounce off my cheek. Foregoing the hammer and chisel after a day of minimal progress, I graduated up to the level of electric and air powered tools. I dazzled my contemporaries, I am sure, with my swift mastery of the air-powered pounding thingy and the electricity charged scrapping do-hickey, (now, don’t allow my freely tossing in all this technical jargon to intimidate).  I was a woman on a mission to pierce through the thick slab of marble. Happily, no make that triumphantly, I succeeded, with the support of kind and skilled sculptors around me.

David kept vigilance and visited us students like a steady, gently guiding influence, even letting us know when it was time to break for a meal. Laura helped me hash out my concept and Tom wielded a huge saw to transform into reality my idea of one stone becoming two companion pieces. Were it not for these brainstorming sessions and lending an experienced hand at the point of need, I could probably still be standing there, gazing in bewilderment at an imposing chunk of marble. Mention must also be made of the influence Stephanie’s ebullience has as an instructor, without whom I would not have been here.  Perhaps a certain measure of mounting fatigue aids the comic reaction, but it has been a long while since I had laughed as hard or as long when April, Monica and Shaina discovered the amazing sculpting properties of stone dust build-up in the hair. We speculated the possible cottage industry of a miracle mineral hair product for the general marketplace.

A close second to that for entertaining frivolity would have to be the product copywriting skills of April and Monica for the auction the night before. Who wouldn’t enhance their stone carving skills with the inclusion of a diamond encrusted squirrel Frisbee in one’s arsenal of trusty tools? The impromptu fashion shows lent more good humor to the group, (which I hear has a comic history predating this year’s event), while the overall camaraderie and generosity brought depth to the cause.

The final night, as the group settled around a crackling campfire beneath a dark sky lit by an array of stars, song and conversation really drove home the resonating wealth of this experience, my first time at camp. As the real magic of such an event comes from the collaboration of many, I’d like to include comments of a few others who attended:

“I'm intrigued with the tools of techniques of wet carving. Seems to keep down a whole lot of dangerous dust!”

-Dave Bilyeu

“This was my third time at Silver Falls as an amateur stone carver. It's always nice to come here because everyone treats you so well, like you’re someone, and I do just really enjoy the experience. My breakthrough this time was to get so many creative ideas and carve on several stones with a feeling of success. I am getting better each year. Thank you NWSSA!”

-Mike Kerns

“I had an amazing time at the symposium. I loved the camaraderie of all the participants, the community meals, dessert with every meal, and the colorful personalities of all the carvers. And as far as the carving goes, knocking off that first fret had me hooked. Ah, the satisfaction. “

-Shaina Zeiger (first time symposium attendee)

“We all loved the zany titles that April, Monica, Shaina and Cathy Rae put on the auction goodies. Among those printable are the set of plastic, stemmed glasses called, Six round trip tickets to Margaretville, and the, Ancient arc welder (works great! Smells even better!)”

-Tom Urban