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From the Editors Sept-Oct 2017

Even though there are still some good carving-weather weeks ahead, we’re coming to that time of year time when we can reflect on the summer’s accomplishments and enjoyments. To help in this reflection, we have put together what might be called a “Symposium Issue,” which focuses on both our Washington and Oregon symposiums.

[Many thanks to Symposium Directors Cyra Jane Hobson (Pilgrim Firs) and Ben Mefford (Suttle Lake) for the hundreds of hours they put in to give us two wonderful summer experiences.]

Cyra Jane Hobson, spent some of her time at Pilgrim Firs collecting the thoughts of many happy attendees. She has assembled those in a virtual word storm of thankfulness and accomplishment. Sounds like they all experienced both the expected and unexpected joys of July’s gathering.

And a few weeks later Suttle Lake symposium came along with its international flavor, accompanied by the mind-blowing experience of a total eclipse of the sun. 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.

We hope that you have been busy at your own work with stone and that you have had many of your own expected and unexpected successes while hard at work on what you just plain love doing. 

Keep on keeping on.

Penelope2017Lane Tompkins
Penelope and Lane


From the Editors July-August 2017

Hello summer, finally. Now is the time to get out there and get things done.

Ben Mefford has been getting things done. Not only a lot of stone carving, about which he has taken the time to write for this issue’s Artist in the Spotlight, but he is also this year’s director for August’s Suttle Lake Symposium. Check out the centerfold to see this year’s instructors.

And here’s a Symposium Bonus: during the symposium -- August 21 -- Suttle Lake Campground will be in the path of the total eclipse. We can’t always guarantee natural spectacles, so take advantage of this one! (Solar safety viewing glasses recommended.)

And perhaps you’ve heard about the great success of the hand-carving workshop Arliss Newcomb had in Port Hadlock on the Olympic Peninsula. Jonna Ramey, a long-time member has written about it and sent in some photos for those of us who couldn’t attend. All the men, for instance.

And finally, you will get the where and when about an exhibition of Tom Small’s stone sculpture and the release of his new book. Yes, we said book. It’s just out and we are so eager to have a look.

Think of all this carving and the fine weather as two good reasons for getting some of your own work going.

Lane and Penelope

Penelope2017Lane Tompkins
Penelope and Lane


From the Editors May-June 2017

It’s spring! And summer is not far behind. Coming up on July 8-15 is our 30th Annual International Stone Carving Symposium. This symposium (formerly known as Camp Brotherhood) will take place in Port Orchard, Washington this year. See our centerfold for more information.

And as if to show how truly international we are, in this issue we present the work of Senden Blackwood, our Aussie connection, and George Pratt from Canada.

So take a break from all that carving….and/or those thoughts of carving, and enjoy the work and words behind the work, of two of our most talented members.

Penelope2017Lane Tompkins
Penelope and Lane


From the Editors March-April 2017

It has been cold carving for those of us working outside. But warmer days are coming and we’ll all be glad to see them.

The loss, in January, of our good friend Elaine MacKay, has affected us all. In tribute, we are re-running Elaine’s “Artist in the Spotlight” from the May/June 2000 issue. Reading about her art in her own words will allow us a moment to remember her.

And thanks to Kentaro Kojima, we are bringing to you the personal thoughts of two Japanese sculpture students on their week at Suttle Lake symposium. You will see our gathering from a very different perspective as Kamu and Koichiro share with us their exuberant enjoyment of this life changing experience.

Sharon Feeney has been busy, too. Her volunteer effort with four-year-olds from Gig Harbor will charm you and make you wish you could have been there to see her orchestrate their very first joyful encounters with stone sculpture. We should have all been so lucky to get started that early.

And so you don’t forget, the Women’s Spring Stone Carving event is happening in June. This issue includes all the information you need, along with the application form. The industrious Arliss Newcomb will not only be organizing the workshop but also the celebration of her 80th birthday. It’s a party.

Penelope2017Lane Tompkins
Penelope and Lane


From the Editors Jan-Feb-2017

Goodbye to the Holidays, the pieces we carved, the pieces we didn't carve; goodbye to 2016. 

Hello to a new year, new possibilities, the pieces we will carve, the pieces we hope to carve; hello to 2017.

That said, there's still enough hibernation time before spring to reflect on our processes, plan new pieces and gather our creative and material tools together. Half the fun of carving is the preparing to carve. The French have a phrase “mise en place," which means to put everything in place. Of course, being French, it’s usually about getting everything ready to cook: all your herbs and spices, utensils, pans and pots. It works well for carving as well. Getting our ideas lined up, our tools sharpened and ready, the stone, the workbench…and we’re ready to go.

We all have our own unique process. In this issue, we talk with two carvers, James Ballard and James Larson, about their processes. Usually carving is a solitary pursuit. To do it, we must be mindful of our own personal methods that have evolved along with us. However, learning how others carve in their solitary way can inform our hands and eyes in new and wonderful ways. The Realization that we are not really isolated in our solitary work, that others have the same frustrations and joys, weaves us into the larger fabric of stone sculpting. Learning how others approach similar work builds a useful connection, giving a sense of fullness to what we do.

And NWSSA gives us a chance to be part of that larger fabric. Arliss Newcomb and Mark Andrews continue the conversation about how being part of NWSSA affects them and their creative process.

So here’s to us as individuals and as part of a group. No matter how it feels sometimes, we are not alone.

Lane and Penelope

Penelope CrittendenLane Tompkins
Penelope and Lane