Our second year at Pilgrim Firs Camp in Port Orchard reaffirmed that the July symposium has found a great home for our group and our spirit. As intense as last year was, this year was just as relaxed. The entire event went so smoothly thanks to the combined efforts and positivity of so many of the over 100 attendees and the fantastic staff of the venue. The guest artists this year, Candyce Garrett and Chris Pellettieri were both spectacular teachers and inspiring artists. Candyce works in large granite and basalt at her home in New Mexico and spent the week splitting and pinning a large granite triangle and demonstrating a variety of surfacing techniques. Chris has spent the last 25 years carving limestone in a large warehouse in the midst of Manhattan; his week was focused on a limestone figure carving, hand tooling demos, and working with veterans from the JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) just nine miles south-southwest of Tacoma).
This was the first time we coordinated with the JBLM to bring veterans to the symposium for a few days so they could experience the healing and meditational aspects of our craft. Rick Johnson was instrumental in sparking off the collaboration between our groups, and Dan Michael came up to give focused instruction. We also rolled out a new pinning and sleeving station this year – Pat Barton and Dan Colvin both built some sturdy tables for the core drills and during the afternoons Dan and dedicated work study folk helped pin a wide variety of sculptures and bases.
Speaking of work study folks, we had a grand total of sixteen work studies and three scholarships funded from the auctions last year – what a fantastic crowd of enthusiastic, hardworking people! The auctions this year, coordinated by Monika Hawkinson, raised over $14,500 so we can do that again next year! For the stone auction, we had a bunch of cut-offs from Will Robinson and a generous lot of stones and tools from Arliss Newcomb. Additionally, Gus Schairer brought a table-full of donated power tools and accessories, some for the Dojo and some for the auction. The Dojo, by the way, is our new name for the Beginner’s Tent, as it is far more apt for what that space provides to the symposium. Tamara Buchanan and Grant Bowman set up a Tool Room there this year to better manage the growing selection of tools that are available for newcomers and seasoned carvers alike.
This year I got to experience the jade tent for the first time, and was so impressed by the hard work of Deborah Wilson, Steve Sandry, and Julianne Kohn in keeping that area running and sharing their knowledge with everyone working there. Deborah and Dale Blankenship both shared slideshows of their work in jade during the week, as did Tom Small of his most recent work in glass and stone mixed media. Our scholarship exchange student from the California Sculptors Symposium, Karen Cope-Swatton and Ben Mefford, who attended CSS as our exchange this year, gave a presentation on that symposium and her innovative figurative work. And then we had a rousing geology lecture by Trevor Contreras and Michael Yeaman gave an overview presentation of the “Elements of Sculpture” book as featured in a weekend intensive on Orcas Island earlier this year.
Of course, then we have the huge contributions from our symposium staff. Pat Barton and Renee Roberts each put in so much time and effort in making Camp a great experience for everyone. Pat’s contributions to the field (and the auction this year via the Pat Barton Fanclub Coffee Mugs courtesy of John Lafortune and Therese Kingsbury) are integral to the success of this event. Renee puts in so much work as registrar, keeping track of hundreds of threads to pull together, and with Barbara Davidson on her team, they keep all the registrations and financials running smoothly. John Lafortune as the announcer/emcee is spot on. I love working with these people and am so happy you all allow me to do this job!
We all had such a wonderful time carving, learning, communing, laughing, swimming, dancing, carving some more, and then carving again. I’m already looking forward to 2019.
Cyra Jane Hobson