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30th Annual International Stone Carving Symposium
at Camp Pilgrim Firs, Port Orchard, WA

Pilgrim Firs FieldThirty years ago a handful of stone sculptors from Washington State and British Columbia gathered for the first NWSSA symposium on a llama ranch in Pateros, WA. They carved, they moved boulders, they (you!) climbed a mountain at midnight for the Harmonic Convergence, and they, you, began a tradition that has enlivened a community that is today thriving. That first gathering was such a good idea, that you kept gathering, and the symposium quickly moved to and became known as Camp Brotherhood, officially as the International Stone Sculptors Symposium. Carvers came, and carvers kept returning year after year to this event and while I wasn’t around then (like many in the current work study generation, I was just starting my first rock collections and messing around in my grandfather’s shop during those early years,) from what I understand it’s because that, when all together, you, we, create a creatively stimulating and high-pitched energy through some awesome synergistic alchemy. Or because rocks are cool, or something like that. 

This July, the symposium moves again to a new site called Pilgrim Firs in Port Orchard which is quite similar to the Oregon location at Suttle Lake. The new venue was scouted by the Board and discussed and voted on at the General Assembly meeting at Camp B. I’ve now visited the site 3 times and each time our party leaves with big grins because we’re all going to have a fantastic time there. Not that we wouldn’t have a great time in an open field, but the scenery and accommodations definitely help.
"Traveler" Joanne Duby

Joining us as a guest artist will be Joanne Duby, sharing hands-on tips and demos for repairs and finishing techniques. We’ll be supplying a wide range of products for her to demo with, which will go into the auction on Thursday evening. Joanne has a long history with the group and is very excited to be spending this week with us! Sculpturally, she’s done just about everything and has an extensive knowledge base to share with us.

"For a Better World Press Play" by James HoranJames Horan, flying over from Ireland, is another guest artist for 2017. This will be his first time with this group and in the Pacific Northwest. (If you google “James Horan Sculpture” you can find his website to check out his work.) James’ work is primarily figurative in marble, and his unique style and sense of humor is immediately recognizable. Go look at his “Behold Man: Apes with Guns” series. He’ll be carving a piece with us during the week and discussing “Direct Carving.”

For anyone new to stone or without their own tools, our beginner’s tent with instruction by Ruth Mueseler and Tamara Buchanan is going to be in full swing. This part of our gathering has been building for many years now and has a full range of power, pneumatic, and hand tools along with tables and shade. The area will be set up right near the jade tent, where guest artist Deborah Wilson will be teaching her 5-day jade intensive. During this workshop, Deborah will provide individual instruction as you work in a fully equipped jade carving shop with enough time to finish at least one small sculpture. If you’re registering for that, get in early! "Only the Lord Saves More: by Deborah Wilson

Other than all that wonderful stuff, it’ll just be the typical incomparable enrichment of our lives through workshops, campfires, presentations, a sculpture show, great food, and making dust, dust, and more dust with your friends. George Pratt has promised to stop by for a couple of days and a special evening of honoring our history with Rich Hestekind, Vic Picou, and other long time members will happen early in the week. We’ll have our big auction on Thursday, and the social on Friday will round out the event and leave us inspired and jazzed for heading back into our own studios.

Registration is up and running, with early bird pricing expiring on May 31st. We have work-study spots open and scholarship funds, so if you need financial assistance please send me a request. We also need field mentors so let me know if you’re interested. Cyra Jane 206-406-0711 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Whether you were at the 1st, 10th, or you haven’t been to this symposium before, this is definitely the year to be here celebrating and making more dust.

Symposium Director
Cyra Jane Hobson