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Winding one's way to Karla Matzke's Sculpture Park on Camano Island, may not be quick, but it's certainly a beautiful drive. Some of our tents set up on Karla Matzke’s sculpture park grounds.
We came from Whidbey Island by car, taking almost two hours to travel up the length of Whidbey, crossing over the Deception Pass Bridge to the mainland, and then going east to I-5, south to State 532 and then down Camano Island to Karla's – just six miles across the Saratoga Strait from where we started in Langley. If we had kayaked, it might have taken fifteen minutes.
But then we couldn't have brought our tools and tents.....and tools and tents were required for the four day hand-carving workshop held early last May.
Wearing the tall hat of intelligence, Tracy Powell makes a chisel selection to demonstrate the hand cutting of Texas limestone. Nestled on ten wooded acres, Karla's property is home to a flourishing sculpture park, as well as a multi-roomed indoor gallery featuring jewelry, paintings and sculpture.
About twenty carvers set up tents and work-spaces adjacent to the sculpture park. Randy Zieber ( was on hand with a truck full of hand-picked stones, perfect for our group.....some of whom had never carved before and some who were long-time stoners.
The ever ready and capable Tracy Powell served as Karla's right-hand man for the planning and successful completion of our symposium. In addition, Tracy also gave us a demonstration and instruction on hand carving, using limestone blocks provided by Marenakos Rock Center in Issaquah. Throughout the four days, Tracy was on hand to give individual instruction and encouragement.Having brought the stone, Randy Zieber leans on his truck at the far left, while Tracy Powell takes center stage to talk about the various types.
Some of those attending lived close by, commuting each morning and evening. Those of us from further away, stayed in beach cabins that had been reserved for us just a few miles down the road at Cama Beach State Park. In the evening at Cama's pebble beach, we enjoyed gathering at picnic tables for parties while twice blessed with the gorgeous views across the straight to Whidbey Island, including the twinkling night-lights of Oak Harbor.
While waiting in line for lunch, Gudrun Ongman and Tracy Powell discuss - what else - Stone sculpture. Being on our own for breakfast, we ate either at the Camo Beach Café or stopped at the Elger Bay store/restaurant on the way to Karla's. Breakfast over, we headed up to Karla's to begin the day's carving. Lunch and dinner were catered by the same Cama Beach State Park kitchen where we sometimes ate breakfast. They delivered well-planned meals that were always on time and beautifully presented.Paul Sizer spent a year touring the US in this Vanagon before bringing it to the workshop as his pop-up tent.
Karla told us that she will be doing this again next year and we just heard that she's already got 10 people signed-up! So, get in touch with her now if you are interested (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). This first year we met some new friends and re-established connections with some we already knew from NWSSA workshops. And just like the days when NWSSA used to have hand-carving workshops, we loved spending the power-tool-free day listening to the gentle music of steel on steel, as hammers hit chisels, little by little transforming stone into sculpture.
As well as bringing the stone, Randy Zieber often turns his own carving skills toward making fine sculpture. As an added bonus, Karla graciously invited us to put some of our pieces in the gallery for the next show. After they were placed, we got a sneak preview of the show. The highlight was hearing members of our group describe their processes as well as their pieces.
Of course, as the name implies, Karla runs much more than a gallery. She has groomed acres of land around the gallery building, converting the wilds into a sculpture park with dozens of sculptors' work represented. Walking through these groves, one can see work done by friends as well as pieces done by carvers new to us.
Seeing everything that Karla has been busy assembling for years is well worth the trip to Camano. Even for us who had to drive about a hundred miles to end up being only six miles from home.

Matzke Sculpture Park is a local treasure. Don't miss seeing it.
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