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From the Editors May/June 2020

Dear Reader,

So…  Here we are.  It feels as though we’ve stepped through a portal into an alternate reality, or perhaps awoken washed up on the shores of Lilliput completely surrounded by tiny creatures who may or may not do us harm. 

By the time you read this, you may have heard the news that the coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation of most planned NWSSA events in 2020.  This includes the Kubota Garden Youth Carving Workshop, the Women’s Carving Workshop, the Volunteer Park pop-up exhibition, the Washington International Sculpture Symposium (at camp Pilgrim Firs), and the Oregon International Sculpture Symposium (at camp Suttle Lake).  This brings new feelings of loss and sadness.  It will be the first time in three decades that either of the symposiums have been cancelled.  Through our events, we keep the stone sculpting art form alive and vibrant.  Our members rely on these events to collaborate, and to inspire our studio practice through the rest of the year. 

The question is, how do we choose to respond to this situation?  Please, first and foremost, take care of your health.  That includes giving yourself carving time!  Apply your creative problem solving skills; in many ways we are better equipped than most to deal with this situation.  Stay in contact.  Call friends and see what projects they are working on.  It will lift you up!  Even though NWSSA activity will be limited, we are still here, and we will get through this.  We had a great exhibit at the Northwest Flower & Garden show in February, for which we are grateful to Ed Salerno for taking up the mantle from Nicky Oberholtzer.  Our new pilot project, the rotating public art exhibit at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA, is still active and soon will be seeing lots of summertime visitors.  Finally, every two months this journal will keep bringing images, stories, and articles on the art of stone sculpture direct to your home.

To all the members of the tribe, be blessed with good health and good fortune and know that you are not alone.  Better days will be here soon; let’s get to work on creating them.


Ben, Maya, Kentaro, Ellie, Doug, Cyra, and Ken

From the Editors Jan/Feb 2020

From the Editors…

Happy new year!  The days are starting to get longer and that means more carving time every week.  This issue we are highlighting NWSSA member Eirene Blomberg, who shares with us how her work as a sculptor has been developing and becoming a more central part of her life. 

There are several exhibition opportunities to be aware of, whether you just want to see colleagues sculpture on display or would like to exhibit work yourself.  See Cyra Jane’s article about the Seattle Erotic Art Festival (SEAF) to learn about how to get involved.  If you would like to have a sculpture considered for the 2020 exhibition, get in touch with Cyra right away; she is still accepting submissions to be juried up through January 25th, 2020.  Over the longer term, we expect to need large works for exhibition in our new rotating public art exhibit at Marymoor Park.  See the article about the launch of our King County Public Art in the Park to learn more.

Last but not least, the 4th annual Women’s Hand Carving Weekend and Show will be the weekend of June 5th, 6th, and 7th this year.  It will continue at its usual venue, the Old Alcohol Plant in Port Hadlock, WA.  If you have any questions, please reach out to Ellie Hochman by phone/text at 206-419-3499.

Be well, read about art, talk to other artists, and make something to soothe your soul.  See you soon at the Winter Gathering on February 8th.

~Benjamin & Maya

From the Editors Nov-Dec 2019

From the Editors…

The International Sculpture Conference was held in Portland this year, and NWSSA participated by way of a joint exhibition with Pacific Northwest Sculptors.  Thanks to Jeremy Kester for documenting this venture and sharing his experience as both an artist and volunteer for the event.  Our Artist Spotlight for this issue is Kirk McLean, who has generously shared his most recent series, Love and Loss.  We are grateful to Kirk for his openness, and for exemplifying just how powerful the process of sculpting can be for communicating grief and stimulating healing.

It is hard to accept that the year is already drawing to a close.  The hours of daylight get less and less and the need to get out and chisel some stone seems to grow and grow.  This season is a good opportunity to reflect and express gratitude for our friends and colleagues who persist in this quixotic dream of stone sculpting.  Whether you have a place to carve this winter, or will be counting the days until it’s warm and dry enough to be outside sculpting again, we wish you all the best in your health and creative pursuits.

~Benjamin & Maya

From the Editors July-August 2019

Letter from the Editors

If it were possible for us to pool our collective gratitude into writing, the words “THANK YOU!” would burst from the page with thunderous applause for our two former editors, Penelope Crittenden and Lane Tompkins.  You are two of the most considerate and generous members of the NWSSA, and that is saying a lot.  As you embrace your next adventures, know that your decades of contributions will continue to have a lasting impact.  We wish you all the best.  Now that you will have some extra time on your hands, we expect you to spend most of that time sculpting!

Penelope2017Lane Tompkins
Penelope Crittenden and Lane Tompkins

And Introducing...

This issue will be the first that I contribute to as Editor.  I am excited for the opportunity, and a bit humbled by the responsibility.  It has been my pleasure to serve as treasurer on the NWSSA board of directors for the last year, but I will be leaving that position in order to put my time and attention into this new endeavor.  For this issue to come together, special thanks are in order to Penelope and Lane for their advance work and continuing support, Nannette Davis for giving extra help during the transition, Maya Kilmer for her help with copy editing, and our contributors Doug Wiltshire and Renee Roberts, Carl Nelson, and Bruce Kleeberger.

~Benjamin Mefford

From the Editors Sept-Oct 2019

From the Editors…

I am very pleased to announce that Maya Kilmer has officially joined me on the journal team as Copy Editor.  Maya teaches English and Creative Writing courses at Oak Harbor High School, and has joined the strong community of NWSSA sculptors on Whidbey Island.  If you were at the Washington symposium you probably got to see her sculpting an ambitious stone octopus.  Welcome Maya!

Pilgrim Firs and Suttle Lake were whirlwinds of creative energy.  If you had the opportunity and privilege of attending, then I expect you are charged up with new insights and ready to apply them. Edmonia Lewis -  Death of Cleopatra 1876, marble

As you size up that next project, or that old project that’s suddenly demanding completion, perhaps consider some words of creative wisdom.  This quote from sculptor Edmonia Lewis seemed like a fitting sentiment after getting to carve among the trees at the symposiums during the days, and watch the sky for shooting stars at night.  I find it gives permission to accept that there is a reason for tolerating certain modern discomforts, and that the reason is worthwhile:

There is nothing so beautiful as the free forest. To catch a fish when you are hungry, cut the boughs of a tree, make a fire to roast it, and eat it in the open air, is the greatest of all luxuries. I would not stay a week pent up in cities if it were not for my passion for art. 
- Edmonia Lewis 

- The Death of Cleopatra, 1876, marble

Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

~Benjamin & Maya