Event Booking
Web Links
News Feeds
Search - K2

Symposia - General Info

2020 Stone Carving Symposium Status Update

Hi Stoners,

I hope everyone is staying safe and able to find a creative outlet in these difficult times.

The symposium managers, supported by the board of directors, worked to find a way to have safe symposiums this summer. However, it ultimately was not possible so we made the choice to cancel our events, including the Women's Hand Carving event in June, Pilgrim Firs in July and Suttle Lake in August. This was heartbreaking because we all want to get out of our homes and see our carving buddies, but it wasn't possible at this time. We will monitor the situation and may create a spontaneous short-term event towards fall, if it is safe.

In the meantime, we still have association business to be done at our July annual meeting, and plenty of carving to be done at our home studios. We will set up a Zoom association meeting where we can at least see some familiar faces. And we'll need to elect a new board of directors. If anyone wants to contribute to the good work of our group please contact me or one of the other board members to talk about what we do. The time commitment is not large and we do some really great things.

The CDC is investigating the idea that being fully covered in stone dust is protective against a wide range of viruses. Make dust and stay safe!

Ken - Prez

Covid-19 Common Questions & Resources Below is a select list of links to some great resources we found regarding Covid-19 information and resources (some especially for artists).

Read more ...

About NWSSA Symposia

NWSSA is adapting to the pandemic!  In August of 2020, we held our first ever Virtual Sculpture Symposium.  This is new territory for a group of people that are intrinsically tactile learners, but it was a big success.  We next held a 3-day Winter Virtual Sculpture Symposium from January 16-18, 2021.  Three days packed with engaging talks, and a wildly entertaining round of Geopardy!

Typically, NWSSA hosts two major events per year: the Washington State International Sculpture Symposium (for over 32 years), currently held at the Pilgrim Firs Camp & Conference Center in Port Orchard, WA, and the Oregon State International Sculpture Symposium (for over 25 years), currently held at the Suttle Lake Campground in Sisters, OR.

In 2021, we are remaining sensitive to public health circumstances and making our decisions based on the information, recommendations, and requirements set forth by federal, state, and local governments.  We want our members to be safe and healthy!  Based on the current information,

Read more ...

Beginning Stone Carving

I’ve Never Carved a Stone!  What can I expect as a beginner?

Impressions of NWSSA's Stone Sculpture Symposiums by Pat Barton, Irene Blomberg & Berta Geller

Beginner Training:

Beginner Work Area: The beginner work area is set up at the edge of camp, thus allowing the teachers a semi-quiet space to teach.  Two large canopies house the work area, with tarps on the ground to catch stone chips and dust. The tents provide protection from both the sun and rain. Tables, benches and stools are provided to store tools and carve comfortably. The work area has electrical power, compressed air, and water. Students pick up and clean their work area at the end of each day.  Irene Blomberg and Tamara Buchanan

“As one fairly new to stone sculpting, I found the beginner’s tent to be a place of great support and encouragement for exploring my creativity with stone.”  Eirene Blomberg

Full Time Instructors: Tamara Buchanan and Ruth Mueseler are both experienced stone sculptors. Tamara has been sculpting stone for over 25 years, and teaches at her studio on Lopez Island for the past 10 years. Ruth, from Bellingham, comes highly recommended by her former students for her thoughtful and respectful manner towards those wanting to learn stone.

Do I need to bring a stone with me?

Read more ...

The Dojo

Instructor Tracy Powell Demonstrating how to carve limestone in the DojoBy Tamara Buchanan

At each NWSSA International Symposium our organization creates an area where persons who have never carved, or haven’t carved for a long time, have an opportunity to create a stone sculpture. A large tent is provided. Work tables and bankers are available. All manner and types of tools can be checked out to use. An experienced sculptor is present to make sure that anyone can get started on a project, learn about safety, tool use, stone selection, design and more.

This area has always been called “the beginner’s tent.” The term has never been a true fit for this special place. The area is so much more than a place for 1st time carvers. It is a “seed bed” for people who want to try something new, for carvers who haven’t touched a stone in years and want a refresher, for experienced carvers who want to try out a new tool, work out a design problem, or just need advice on a project. It’s really an on-field hub.

This year, as we set up the tent area, I expressed my exasperation of the term “beginner’s tent” to those who were helping ...but I had no alternative name. The next day, a work-study fellow, Grant, suggested “The Dojo.” I was familiar with the word as we have a Dojo on Lopez Island. It’s a peaceful building in the woods that is used by various groups as a place to exercise, sing, or meditate. The word for me meant a place that was inclusive, inviting, and open. It felt right to me, but was it just a little too “strange” for our group?Attendees going about their work in the welcoming space of the Dojo

Wikipedia says: “A dōjō (道場) is a hall or space for immersive learning or meditation. This is traditionally in the field of martial arts, but has been seen increasingly in other fields, such as meditation and software development. The term literally means "place of the Way" in Japanese. “

“Immersive learning” is certainly what we’re about in our Dojo. The learning often involves stone, or tools, or learning about’s all up to you. As the week progressed, the term The Dojo was embraced by many. Our Dojo was a place of great learning, much patience, and a good share of happiness.

Safety for Sculptors

Northwest Stone Sculptors Symposium at Camp Pilgrim Firs & Camp Suttle Lake
Eye, Ear & Resp Protection

WELCOME to our creative place where everyone is on the safety team and helps to ensure an enjoyable time for all, including our visitors. Be aware of the safe use of tools and considerate toward protection of the grounds and camp facilities. Drive slowly (15 mph) and watch for pedestrians and wildlife.

PERSONAL SAFETY is #1, Wear clothing and footwear that is safe to work in at camp. Safety gear for eyes, ears, and respiratory system is required. Be careful on uneven surfaces and use a light after dark. We want a safe and trusting time with other artists.

SAFE TOOLS & WORK AREA is your responsibility, so keep your workspace safe at all times, and secure it when you are not present. Unplug all power tools when you’re away. Electrical connections should be protected from moisture, particularly at night. Be mindful of your flying chips and the dust you create. Be prepared to add extra sides to your canopy for excessive dust, or to be asked to work in a different area. Inspect your power tools, hand tools, electrical cords, and all connections each day for proper working condition. Visitors may not use or handle your power or pneumatic tools.

VEHICLES Drive slowly!!! Drivers must keep an eye out for people and equipment while driving on the work field and camp areas. If the driver is unsure or backing up, the driver must ask for someone to guide and spot them.
Group Demonstration
DRUG & ALCOHOL POLICY Consumption or possession of alcohol by any guest under 21 on Camp property is strictly prohibited. Consumption is not allowed on the field while power tools are in use.
The use or possession of illegal substances/drugs on Camp property is strictly prohibited.

SMOKING The Camp enforces a no smoking policy in all of their facilities. You may smoke outdoors. You must carefully extinguish all cigarettes to reduce the risk of fire and appropriately dispose of cigarette butts.

DEMONSTRATIONS Please remember to wear safety protection while attending instructor demonstrations.

PERSONAL PROPERTY is your responsibility: tools, equipment and your sculptures on exhibit.

VISITORS Visitors are welcome and should check in with staff upon arrival. Eye, hearing and respiratory protection should be worn while observing work in the carving area.

Thank you, and Carve Proud!

Northwest Stone Sculptors Symposium

What to Bring to the Jade Carving Workshop

Jade Carving Workshop

Deborah Wilson recommends that if you have the following items, you should bring them for the Jade Carving Workshop Jade Carving Workshop at Suttle Lake

• Respirator (3M has a good silicone rubber one)
• Waterproof Apron… if you have one
• Rubber boots, again only if you have a pair
• Ear plugs!! Very important (she recommends the foam disposable ones) and bring a small case to put them in.
• Safety glasses or visor
Bandana - keeps the dust out if your hair
• Rubber gloves, optional
• Sketch pad and pencils etc.
• Plasticine for making maquettes. She usually brings some with her as well.
• Thumb drive to download jade tooling and carving information

Keep in mind, there is an additional materials fee, depending upon the size and quality of jade you select for your project. 

Camp Brotherhood Experience

A NWSSA symposium is about learning to work with stone, the pople who carve stone, and becoming part of a larger community. Some of the students who attend think it's an "...intensely creative wonderland of a fantasy"  and  a place where you'll " surrounded by many positive people who are doing their work, collaborating, celebrating, and enjoying it".

Group gathering.

Bethany Moore summarized it this way:

" the end of day one, I had found my way with the stone, uncovering the form that I knew was held within. The days that followed got me deeper and deeper into understanding, learning through the people surrounding me, and the great workshops presented throughout the day. The open environment allows any individual, no matter their skill or knowledge, the opportunity to ask questions and feel comfortable. There is no hierarchy, no elitism, and no judgment."

One Silver Falls Experience

This is from a recent new member, Cathy Rae Smith, after her very first attendance at a Silver Falls Symposium.

"Clouds of marble dust heightened the perpetual fogging of my safety glasses. However, Alex, my mentor for the day, 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. 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."