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I enjoy writing. It helps me clarify my thoughts. Every sculpture I create is really a story I find irresistible that finds expression in stone.

I usually have a lot of excess brain space when I am sanding and finishing a stone sculpture so I begin to write the blog for that piece in my mind. Having done quite a bit of research for each sculpture, I start by riffing on ideas.

I define the most important aspect of the creation process. Sometimes it is the story of the animal. Sometimes it is an experience I had with a particular individual. Often it is the story of the making of the sculpture. Every picture is worth at least a thousand words.

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Celebrate

“Celebrate” is a stone sculpture of exuberance and relief. I chose a little, lithe and limber cat, one of my favorite animals, to express my joy.

Inspiration

I designed “Celebrate” in late May 2021, when our culture was just opening up again after the global pandemic. There was much to be thankful for; the return of good times with friends, the reawakening of art shows, going back to the movies, enjoying live music again. Months of social distancing and mask wearing were finally coming to an end. I read that it might only be a lull before a resurgence of cases (which is now happening) but what a relief, however temporary!

Cats

Cats are my muses and my comforts. They are the animals with whom I am most familiar, and I often carve them in stone and bronze. I know their anatomy and ways of moving through my experiences studying and animating them at Disney. I have shared most of my life with their elegant company. They embody my idea of joyful expression.

Smallness

Making small stone sculptures is always a challenge, particularly in a hard marble such as Atlantic Black. A size comparison with a gallon of orange juice illustrates the diminutive size of this piece.

Celebrate stone sculpture size comparison
“Celebrate” size comparison with a gallon of orange juice.

The wide spread arms were a risk to make because the smaller they are the thinner they are. But, they survived the process, so therefore a risk worth taking. One never knows how far one can push a stone until one tries. It is the exploration part of the creative process, and very exciting in a nerve-wracking sort of way. There is no manual, only the courage to try.

The Stone

The stone is Atlantic Black marble; the secret quarry is located in some country somewhere along the Atlantic Ocean. We keep the location secret because many veins of glorious black marble throughout the world are now spent. The great blacks, Belgium and Mongolian Imperial, are all used up.  Luckily, this new black marble is equally beautiful.

Atlantic Black sometimes has gorgeous bands of fossilized seashell, like the tail form in “When Horses Fly”. The block for Celebrate had no bands of shell, only fossilized confetti particles of shell fragments, very appropriate for a sculptural celebration.

The stone matrix is extremely hard and made a metallic clinking sound when the shards fell to the cement floor of my studio as I was cutting the stone. This makes me wonder if there is some sort of mineral or metal combined with the primordial muck which became this gorgeous piece of the earth over hundreds of millions of years of heat and pressure. These are staggering concepts when pondered.

Celebrate Back View, sculpture by Ellen Woodbury
“Celebrate” back view.  Photo by Mel Schockner.

Reflections

The covid crisis still rages in many places in the US and throughout the world. We still have quite a ways to go. Even so, I celebrate my new appreciation for what I used to think of as ordinary life, the people, animals, and places I treasure.

Excerpts of Other Recent Entries

If stone sculptures could talk, this one would say, “She made me into a newt!” Inspiration A conversation, a line from a film, and a memory inspired this little spotted newt sculpture. A Memory My Dad built a house in the woods on the outskirts of Corning, NY, when my sisters and I were little. Lots of animals lived in the surrounding woods, including deer, bears, and little red newts. I remember finding newts among the ferns, rocks, and leaf . . .
 

Inspiration The raven inspires this stone sculpture titled “Merry Trickster”.  The taxonomic family Corvidae includes crows, ravens, and jays, some of the smartest birds in the world.  They have excellent memories and are creative problem solvers. Ravens have a large vocabulary of vocalizations, make and use tools, remember past events, and plan for the future. They are extremely adaptable. A Few Raven Facts The Common Raven is the largest perching bird or “song bird”.  It measures about 25 inches from . . .
 

“Cavalluccio Marino” is a privately commissioned stone sculpture carved from Italian Ice Alabaster, and inspired by a special horse named Meri. The title is Italian for Sea Horse. Meri’s owner, Laura, describes her as “a protector and a big hug.” Her goals for the sculpture are a feeling of purity, illumination, and liberation. Inspiration Laura gave me a breath-taking description of the personality of her horse, and I felt as if I already knew her. SRC American Xxpress, also known . . .
 

“Top Cat” is a bronze sculpture dedicated to the importance of animals in our lives. It is an homage to my cat, Moonface, with whom I shared my life for 15 years. In 2019 I received the Marilyn Newmark Memorial Grant, awarded by the National Sculpture Society for a meritorious body of work in animal sculpture. I spent my grant money to make “Top Cat”. Inspiration “Top Cat” is a monument to all the cats who have enriched my life, . . .
 

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