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President's Message

President's Message May-June 2015

Did you get to Lakewold Gardens to  see the large outside pieces and the smaller pieces on display in the mansion? It was an excellent showing of our members work in a very nice venue; rumor has it a piece or two may have sold. They have asked us to consider showing large pieces again next spring, possibly extending the outdoor display from April until September, so think about carving something big for next year. Speaking of something big, the Bellingham "Regional Sculptors, Regional Stone" show opens June 5th. Check out the write up elsewhere in the Journal and please come to see what has been assembled. It's all stone and all NWSSA members.
Carl Nelson

Pat Barton has been successful (relentless) in working with the local Rock and Gem clubs in the Puget Sound region to display and sell our carving work. A big thanks to those members who displayed work at those shows. Pat's work has resulted in NWSSA being invited to talk at their local meetings about stone carving and coming to Camp B and Suttle Lake symposiums. Laster year, we had 2 new attendees from rock and gem clubs.

Note that our August symposium had changed locations. It is now at Suttle Lake, near Sisters, Oregon.

For me, the winter and spring was filled with carving and travel (more to follow) so the NWSSA winter/spring party didn't happen. The only consolation I can offer is a picnic in the park on June 20th. Thanks to Cyra Jane Hobson, we have a grassy area reserved at Volunteer Park in Seattle for a picnic, to display a piece or two, and to invite the public to chat and eat with us. Check out or Facebook for details and set aside June 20th as a day to socialize and enjoy time with your fellow carvers.

Until then, Carve Proud,


President's Message Mar-Apr 2015

We have a strong and supportive community that shares its hard-won knowledge. That support combined with your creative effort has produced sculpture worth sharing with the world, which is why you are now being asked display at so many outstanding and different venues. Many of you are submitting pieces for consideration and I know there’s many more of you with work that I’ve seen at symposiums, studios, and galleries that deserves to be shown to the public. Please consider taking the opportunity to submit your work to one of the upcoming shows. It’s easy to put a submission together with a quick visit to our web site:  Calls-for-Artists, download the word document, fill in the info and send it off to Cyra Jane, so the public can get to see (and buy) your work.
Carl Nelson

Speaking of our strong community, Ken Barnes is challenging 5 artists to rough out (or finish) 5 pieces during the Camp Brotherhood Symposium (July 11th to the 18th – the registration form is up on the web and you can now early bird register). It’s a tough challenge, last year he actually roughed out 4 and a half pieces (one of the stones had an “integrity problem”), just to see if it could be done. His comment to me is that organizing to do it while at Camp-B, and having pieces roughed out afterwards, created a process where a lot got done. Ken's looking to do it again this year and don't be surprised if you get a call from him. 

Ken’s challenge is on the edge of another member’s concern about finishing a piece that you start. Dan Colvin proposed a great idea to help some folks along the way: start a “Finisher’s Club”. The idea is simple, set a date (or many dates) to meet in your studio (or a friend’s studio) and talk about (or better yet, work on) a piece that you want to get to a finished state. The peer pressure alone is worth a lot. To help this idea along the way, how about declaring  Saturday April 25th, 2015 “Finishers Day.” Call up a friend, dredge out that piece languishing in the stone pile, and get it done.

Be Mindful, Positive and Carve Proud,


President's Message Jan-Feb 2015

One of the things NWWSA members are always interested in, is opportunities to show their work. Here are a few.
Carl Nelson

First is the Seattle Flower and Garden Show Feb 11-15th (see: for more info). In addition to the opportunity to show your work, this is the year we will “refresh” the booth design. If you are interested and can lend a hand in the weeks leading up to the show, contact Pat Barton (425-643-0756 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Cyra Jane Hobson (206-406-0711 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Nicky Oberholtzer (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Next is a three month “NWSSA” show opening May 14th in Bellingham at a new gallery. They want all sizes of sculpture for 600-700 sq. ft. inside and 400-600 sq. ft. outside. NWSSA has been asked to be the first point of contact and Wade Marlow (previously owner of Blue Horse Gallery) will be NWSSA’s contact point. There will be a reasonable sales split in favor of the artist. Look for the details from Cyra Jane in the coming weeks.

The week before Mother’s day (May 2nd to 10th), Lakewold Gardens will offer opportunities for display, sale and education. Cyra Jane will be updating us. Similarly, at Kruckeberg Botanic Garden, in Shoreline, NWSSA has been asked to show outdoor sculpture (small and large) at their Mother’s Day weekend event. Several pieces from members sold last year. Cyra Jane will be handling coordination.

Finally, the weekend of June 20th a one day “Picnic in the Park” at Volunteer Park in Seattle created and coordinated by Cyra Jane. Members will bring their sculpture. NWSSA will provide pedestals, invite the public to bring a picnic lunch, and enjoy the sculpture and talking with our members. If you’d like to help organize a similar event, contact Cyra Jane.

As you see, Cyra Jane has been asked to coordinate the call to artists. With so many events and possibilities, the board wanted to have a single point of contact so things go smoothly, questions can be answered without delay, and details are not dropped. If you have questions or want to know more, contact Cyra Jane.

Over the coming spring and summer months, Pat Barton’s efforts with Rock and Gem Clubs, will bring us opportunities to show at the Issaquah, Puyallup and Everett Rock and Gem shows. Our presence there will help to educate a likely group of new members about stone carving. We will be posting more on our web site and Facebook. Contact Pat if you are interested in participating or helping.

Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park has many of our members’ sculptures and is a strong supporter of our stone carving community. If you have not contacted Karla (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) about showing your work, please do. Recently, Karla has been hosting our hand carving retreat. This year it will be April 24, 25 and 26. Sue Taves will be guest instructor and there will be a show and opening the evening of April 25.

It’ll be a busy spring and summer. I am looking forward to seeing your work in the upcoming shows.
Be mindful, positive, and Carve Proud,



President's Message Nov-Dec 2014

I recently found myself in a conversation with a group of people about selecting art for a show. The topic of “art and craft” came up and I found myself saying: it’s art when the hand is not certain of where it is going before it starts. Otherwise it’s craft.
Carl Nelson

It seemed to make sense and yet so much was left out. Whose hand? Going where? Starting when? Where did I get such a notion? Why does it matter?

On reflection, I realized my point of view is synthesized from Denis Dutton’s The Art Instinct,The Principles of Art by R.G. Collingwood and talks with Batya Friedman and Lee Gass. Collingwood’s point was that skilled work is purposefully directed toward a final product or designed artifact. The craftsman knows in advance what the end product will look like while the artist, still requiring skill and technique, does not know, when starting out, what the end state of the finished piece will be.

While Dutton said, We pay craftsmen to paint houses or repair clocks because of the dependability of learned techniques: these people know what they are doing. But in the sense of using skill to produce a preconceived result, creative artists strictly speaking never know what they’re doing.

Assuming skills and technical ability are the same, the distinction is about intent and goal of an effort.

In an email exchange with Lee Gass his summary was: … a difference between an artist and a craftsman is that the craftsman knows, and can know, the desired outcome. If so, it would mean that a craftsman could plan things in detail. List steps. Make a recipe. Follow it. At least to some extent, according to this idea, an artist must discover the pathway while he walks it, as Antonio Machado suggested about life in general.

In the Artist/Craftsman way of thinking, where does the designer fit in? This question comes to mind, because I have been working with Batya Friedman to set up the January 17th evening workshop: Art, Design, and Intention – All to What End?  She speaks of two different worlds:, …the designer is  intentionally interventionist with a goal of effecting change of some sort, be it imagining a new "thing", a new technology, or a new social structure; in contrast the artist is accountable to form and beauty — magic in the universe. Artists may or may not choose to engage with social or political change. Both designers and artists typically remain open throughout their processes to the direction their work may take them. They are often surprised by what emerges in the end.

Lee Gass thinks we are all designers and some of our work is art.  Where, in your work with stone, do you see your Art, Design, and Craft?  

I leave that as something for you to ponder while you work with your stone. May the coming months be ones of discovery and magic.