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Suttle Lake

Suttle Lake Symposium 2018

Greetings fellow carvers!

Each year, when the trees and flowers bloom here in Oregon, I realize that we are only two months away from our unique event in the mountains. The gathering of friends with the common goals of learning, creating and the sharing of ideas. The synergy I feel from being with new and like-minded people in THIS experience has no boundaries and is immeasurable.

Kazutaka Uchida and Dan ColvinIt is my pleasure to have the honor of awarding Kazutaka Uchida our Lifetime Achievement Award this year for all of his involvement in NWSSA’s Oregon symposiums since their beginnings. We have been fortunate enough to foster a relationship with Japanese traditions because of his presence. This year we will also have Mitsuo Saiki as an instructor. He will demonstrate his approach to the human figure as he did with such amazing skill last year. Mitsou Saiki

It will also be my honor to present my sculpture mentor,Lee Imonen, with the Hammer Award for his years of selfless dedication and teaching to our cause. I know that he has touched the lives of almost everyone who is a NWSSA member and beyond, with his time, materials, and his infectious “Can-do spirit.”

jk headAnd Joseph Kincannon will be joining us from Texas. This will be Joseph’s first experience with NWSSA symposiums, and should prove to be a fresh perspective towards a professional’s relationship with stone.

CU at Flowershow 4Seattle Solstice will be with us again after an absence of four years. Both Jason Clauson and Stuart Kendall will be here to tell us about their latest projects, which I am sure will prove to be nothing short of remarkable.

Mark Andrew will be leading a “group monument carving event” for the venue. Jim Ballard will teach us about sandblasting stone to enable the visually impaired, Stephanie Robison will be bringing her talents as an instructor for newer students and MJ Anderson will be sharing her adventures from Italy earlier this year.

This is not a year to miss. The relationships we have developed with folks from Montana, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest make this symposium what it is; an event worth coming to every year to recharge ourselves and in turn, the communities we go home to.

Doug Wiltshire, Suttle Lake Camp Symposium DirectorWe have an extremely talented group of work studies people this year. Without your support, many young carvers would never consider stone sculpting an attainable endeavor.
Thank you all for making this happen. 

Doug Wiltshire, SL Symposium Director 2018

Registration is now open for our Annual Stone Carving Symposium near Sisters, Oregon running from August 12-19th, 2018

Selected Works from Suttle Lake Camp

Suttle Lake Symposium 2017

Four carvers volunteered to tell us about the stones they worked on while there. The pieces range in size from 12 pounds to 3,000 pounds; not so unusual a spread for NWSSA stoners.

Ben Kimura
Craig Breitbach
Larry Lawlor
Mitsuo Saiki

Ben Kimura

Ben KimuraThis sculpture is a large piece of Yule marble from Colorado. I began roughing it out in July at the Marble/Marble symposium before bringing it to Suttle Lake. It was important to me, with this piece, to do all of the finishing work by hand. So, after putting down the five-inch grinder, it was and is all hand tooling. I will probably go through way more sandpaper than I would like to admit.

Some of the progress I have made stylistically has been making it a point to tell myself that there are no rules while carving. However, there is always knowledge that I can pick up from other artists.

Ben Kimura, The TorsoI found NWSSA through an ad for the Flower and Garden Show at Volunteer Park in the Seattle Times and went there hoping someone would have advice about where to locate good stones to carve. That’s where I found out about the symposiums, and since then it has been an education, attending these get-togethers and acting as a sponge, trying to listen and learn as much technical know-how as I can, and applying that knowledge to future projects.

The form of this piece emerged through a long discourse with the stone. It was an old stone and had probably been sitting untouched for a number of years. However, underneath the dirt and grime was a pure, very hard marble that lent itself to the forms that I like to carve.

Even though the process in which I carve is a type of direct carving, it is punctuated by taking a step back and drawing the physical stone, over and over again. I believe that if you take time to draw the stone in front of you, whatever stage it is in, it will give you an idea of how you can work with the stone, where the high points in the rock are and where the forms you want to impose can lay.

Being able to attend different symposia has stoked my enthusiasm for stone carving. It was truly incredible to set up at Suttle Lake and suddenly be transported into a different world that revolves around creativity and exploration. It is great to be in a space where everyone is doing, more or less, their own individual carving, however because of the electric energy that is radiating around the field, that individual energy becomes a source that one can tap into.

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Craig Breitbach
Craig Breitbach
I had a great time at the symposium again this year. The main sculpture I was working on at Suttle Lake is a new piece for the Carillon Point Marina on Lake Washington in Kirkland. This will be a two-year installation (along with my “Whale of a Bench” which had previously been displayed at San Juan Island Sculpture Park). The new sculpture, “Spirited,” is a 7 foot, 3000-pound basalt column with two salmon and a water design. I have a tight timeframe for this piece. In fact, I was only able to go to the symposium thanks to the equipment and help from Carl and Ken which enabled me to work on it there! I have to admit I have tool envy for the crane truck.…)
Craig Breitbach
The inspiration for this piece was a past sculpture installed in Oregon City, “River Dance.” (I even stopped to visit it on the way down to the symposium.) This time I am emphasizing the motion of the water more with spiral splashes that surround the salmon.

As always, I enjoy working in basalt because it has rough natural surfaces to contrast the polished and highly detailed images carved into them. But basalt is very hard, so I have to use an angle grinder, diamond grinding blades, and a Dremel for the detail work.

I am finishing the piece at my studio in Fall City and hope to install it mid to late September.

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Larry Lawlor
Larry Lawlor
“To Dance the Tango” Texas limestone 19 1/2” W X 20 3/4” T X 4 1/2” D

I tend to choose intimate moments for my relief carving. Here I have chosen the image of two Tango dancers in a dramatic pose, riveted on each other even though their eyes are closed. The challenge I’ve given myself is to render this image in a believable way. I wanted to create a strong composition that will keep the viewers' eyes traveling through the piece and come to center on the space between them. Finally and most importantly for me, I wanted to create the dramatic feeling and tension between the man and woman.
To Dance the Tango by Larry Lawlor
I’ve been carving for six years now. We moved to the Seattle area seven years ago following the grandkids and I happened on a StoneFest at Marenakos Rock Center with John Fisher as instructor. I’ve been hooked ever since.

I have a background in the Arts. I was a scenic and lighting designer in theater and television and have done some painting in acrylics and soft pastels.

More than half of my sculpture to date has been in deep relief carving. I like staying in the figurative mode and try to capture a moment and feeling.

What is most likely behind my choosing these themes is the desire of an elder person to revisit that core tension and feeling that is universal between humans and animals and place it in stone, making it universal yet personal.

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 Mitsuo Saiki Mitsuo Saiki

“It was my first time using limestone. It was so soft that I had to learn how to carve it as I was carving it. I found meaning in using a stone from USA to carve it. The Buddha statue reflects the one who sees it. So, it is my hope that I was able to convey that with this statue regardless of the faith of the one who sees it.”

Born in 1975, Mitsuo Saiki is a Level 1 certified Stone Masonry Technician. After becoming a student of the now-deceased stone sculptor Ryo Kato at age 18 and serving five years as his apprentice, he returned to the Saiki family business. He uses traditional hand-carving techniques to create works ranging from stone Buddhas to monuments, while also displaying his works at a variety of exhibitions and art festivals and engaging in a diverse range of professional activities.
"Jizuosama" by Mitsou Saiki
In 2005, he embarked on an ambitious two-year project to repair and restore the 300-year-old Kannon statues enshrined on Nakanojo town's sacred mountain of Takeyama. In 2014, as part of a commemorative project celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Gunma Prefecture Stone Industry Association, he carved the stone statue of the Gunma prefectural mascot "Gunma-chan" that is displayed in front of the Gunma Prefectural Government Building. He served as the Executive Committee Chairman of the 2015 Nakanojo Biennale and is known to spend his free time listening to blues with a drink in hand.

"As a stone sculptor, I try to trust my instincts as I search for the points and lines that tell me how to shape an object. However, I have come to understand that it is not the sculptor who decides how to sculpt the stone, but the stone that decides how it will be sculpted."

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2017 Suttle Lake Centerfold

Suttle Lake Stone Carving SymposiumFellow stone sculptors,

It is time to come home.  Be with friends, mentors, students, and especially, take the opportunity to be present with yourself. Our symposium is an evolving form of education, a union of ideas, and a place for gathering your energy.  When we work alongside one another, it is a statement. It is a proclamation that the earth can be moved by individuals and that it can be moved in harmony through collaboration.
In August of 1987, NWSSA held our first annual international stone sculpture symposium. This landmark event coincided with a spectacular alignment of planets in our solar system, and coordinated meditation across the globe. 
In August of 2017, we will again be hosting our annual Oregon symposium at Suttle Lake. It is fitting that we will kick off this event with another celestial alignment. We will witness a total solar eclipse the morning of Monday, August 21st. The next two total solar eclipses that will even be close to Oregon occur in 2045 in northern California, and 2099 in Canada.  The next total eclipse to pass over Oregon (or Washington) will not be until June 25, 2169!  

Embrace the opportunity of a lifetime by sharing this special moment in the midst of an extreme concentration of creative energy.  
We have a full program this year that is certain to push us into new ways of thinking.  Two themes of approach and technique will frame the 2017 symposium: high-tech & traditional and east & west.  

Carl NelsonMichael BinkleyCarl Nelson and Michael Binkley will present on CNC carving and transforming computer generated designs into stone. A small CNC carving machine will be on site during the week so that we can observe the process from start to finish. M.j. Anderson will follow this up by giving a field demonstration on carving Italian marble and will be carving and mentoring through the week. Keith Philips, resident artist of Tenino quarry, will visit and talk about traditional techniques for hand carving sandstone.End of copy on the left side of circle.Uchida-san

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Suttle Lake Symposium 2015

Suttle Lake Stone Sculptors Symposium 
August 23rd - 30th, 2015 - Sisters, Oregon
Suttle Lake Logo

New Location!

NWSSA is pleased to announce a new location and extended days (at the same price) for our annual Oregon State Stone Carving Symposium! You may be familiar with "Camp Brotherhood" Symposium in Washington State - We hope you will join us for "Camp Sisters" near Sisters, Oregon for our Stone carving symposium this August! 

Suttle Lake Campground

Stone carvers are invited to convene at the Suttle Lake Campground near Sisters, Oregon for 7 days of sculpting fun. Set up a tent to carve, share, learn and be challenged. From the beginner's tent to the professional tool chest, there are ample ways to learn, get involved,  and connect with other artists.

Carving sessions are interspersed with tool & safety instruction, informative sessions, and on the field mentoring. Field instructors are always available to answer questions. Bring your gear (if you are a beginner, we have tools you can use), we provide power, water and air. S
hould you need them, there are tools and stone available for purchase.

We provide three meals and rooms. In the evenings, artists show their images and talk about their sculpture. If you need a break, hike in the surrounding hills or grab a boat and head out on the lake. In the evening folks can gather around the campfire before turning in.

Stay tuned to our website and facebook page for more details. If you would like to join us this year, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be added to our mailing list so you will receive notice about our next Oregon State Symposium event!

NWSSA’s First Time at Suttle Lake, Sisters, Oregon

By Lane Tompkins
Two carvers waiting for the dinner bell

Sometimes trying something new doesn’t always turn out well, so moving the Oregon Symposium from our much loved Silver Falls State Park to a new location caused us more than a little apprehension.

We were told that Suttle Lake on the edge of the Cascades in Central Oregon was lovely. We were even told that the cost would be low enough for us to get 7 days for less than the cost of 5 days at Silver Falls. So those who went did so with big hopes.

Those hopes were more than satisfied. The Kitchen Staff was great to work with and the food was organic and locally grown. There was even a map on the wall showing what came from where.

Though the beds were on the Spartan side, the four-inch think mattresses were in abundance, allowing one to easily double or even triple the comfort quotient.

Kazutaka Uchida with his jellybean sculptureOur tenting area was almost scarily reminiscent of the one atSilver Falls and walking distance between field and rooms and dining hall were quite short, also like Silver Falls. It didn’t take us long to feel right at home.

We had a huge newbie tent with several people who had never, ever carved a stone. With what a will they jumped right into it and began carving. It was thrilling to watch their progress.

And this symposium was our chance to gather in a big circle and take turns thanking Tom Urban for his unfailing 20 years of service to the Oregon contingent. Of course that always includes a few outliers from way up north –Washington, Canada and Montana. (Bless those hardy Montanans who come down every year to brighten up our days and our auctions, bringing cases and cases of Moose Drool Beer from their contact at The Big Sky Brewery in Missoula.)
Walking from lunch back to the field
And speaking of the Auction. Trying to tell you what happened in the auction would be like trying to say what happened during any given three hours in the universe. A lot happened. People were sent to jail and had to be bought out. High-bidders went to the VIP lounge to be fawned over and anointed, too soon replaced by the next big buyer. People worked hard distributing beverages, they also worked hard to outbid someone and then gave the item to the one they outbid. It was fun. It was more than fun. We raised $6,400.

This short account is not all that happened at Suttle Lake. If you want to know that, you’ll have to come next year. I bet you’ll love it, too.