Blog

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.

Lastest Entry

Feline Improvisation

Inspiration

I love cats. I have lived with them nearly all my life and hope at least one cat will always own me. “Feline improvisation” is a stone sculpture inspired by my tuxedo cat, Smoochie. She has generous proportions, a sweet disposition, and fur softer than silk.

Guitar music and jazz are my favorite kinds of music. I listen to my husband, Brian Wendt, play acoustic guitar every day. I listen to KUVO, Denver’s jazz radio station, when I am doing the hand finishing on my sculptures.

Experiences collide and sculptural ideas happen.

Design

Cats have long bones and muscles that give them luxurious forms. Their bodies are extremely flexible and graceful, even when they are asleep. I was thinking about the long lines of action in a cat’s pose—how an entire cat can be simplified to one long, sinuous line that curves and undulates from ears to shoulders, through the body, and eventually to the tip of the tail.

I have extensive knowledge of cat anatomy, behavior, and moods both from living with them and from animating them. Familiarity gives me the confidence to take liberties with cat forms to express how I feel.

Musical improvisations start with a melodic theme, and then the musician departs from the rigidity of the song and takes the listener through audio curves and undulations to express his or her feelings.  

Jazz music is a fun adventure in listening, jazz sculpture is an equally fun adventure in looking.

Feel Equals Delight

So many aspects of stone sculpture delight me. I love how stone feels. A raw stone feels good; a carved stone feels like a magic talisman. A carved and polished stone feels like some wonderful alien thing.

Finished stone looks soft even though it is hard stone if you keep interior lines to a minimum and only describe the forms with shapes, rather than lines. Polished stone feels soft if you take it to a very high shine.

“Feline Improvisation” is polished to 10,000 grit using a mixture of black wax and tin oxide, and feels as silky as Smoochie’s fur. The light grey linear shapes are raw textured marble. The contrast provides a path of action for the eye to travel through the sculpture, clarifies the forms, and offers visual relief from the shine.

Geologic Serendipity

I think I invented this term to describe the events that happen to primordial muck as it is heated and compressed into stone over hundreds of millions of years. Chinese Black Marble is littered with thousands of tiny fragments of broken seashells, so I deduce that the swampy mud and water was churned up for long periods of time breaking up all the shells. It has a jazzy, active look to me.

Some black marbles, like Mongolian Imperial Black, have fossils of whole sea snail shells intact within the stone matrix, so I figure Mongolian was formed in fairly stagnant water. This marble has a regal, elegant look to me.

Most black marbles have concentrated layers of crushed seashells that form a dense white layer where no carbon (black) is present. We stone sculptors call this white line—I know, high-tech language. You can see some white line across the cat’s left ear.

I think of geologic serendipity as stone improvisation. The variety of inclusions and geologic events produces a sort of theme for each kind of stone. Nature is the improviser. We are part of the adventure of discovery on a timeline tracing millions of years. The fun is in the looking.

This Beauty Shot

I worked with master photographer Mel Schockner to create this image of “Feline Improvisation.” Mel is a wizard of lighting, the brains and eyes behind this sensitive and smart beauty shot. I was the hands and feet. Mel recently had surgery on his ankle to relieve an old injury, but generously offered to shoot the sculpture if I could follow his directions to fetch, set up, and adjust lights, diffusers, and filters. Enlightening!

Photographing shiny sculptures is the art of creating highlights. If you look at the image, you can see how Mel composed the highlights in the cat’s forms so that the shapes read due to the shapes and placement of the highlights. Basically, he created the rhythms of the sculpture in shine. Brilliant!

I learned many lessons in the creation of “Feline Improvisation.” One of the most rewarding was working with Mel, like being inside his brain to understand his creative choices.  A fun revelation!

Excerpts of Other Recent Entries

Inspiration “Codename White Mouse, Espadrilles” is a sculptural homage to the heroic life of Nancy Wake, a spy for Great Britain who was active in France during World War II. She was on the Nazi most-wanted list and they nicknamed her The White Mouse for her ability to elude capture. I first learned of Ms. Wake’s incredible career with her passing in 2011 at the age of 98. A representative from the Royal Star and Garter, a veteran’s organization in . . .
 

Inspiration “Tiny Sparrow, Huge Deal” is a stone sculpture inspired by an article I read in Audubon Magazine about the Grasshopper Sparrow.  The Florida sub-species of the Grasshopper Sparrow is the most endangered bird in North America. This is a four- or five-inch long sparrow with a 7-inch wingspan—tiny! It is a ground-nesting bird in prairie ecosystems and builds a tiny pouch-like nest in the tall grass. It eats mainly grasshoppers and shakes their long jumping legs off before eating . . .
 

I carved “See Through Other Eyes: Spotted Owl” as a stone sculpture, and then had it molded and cast as a bronze sculpture. The bronze edition is five sculptures, all crafted for outdoor display. Inspiration The Northern Spotted Owl is the apex predator (top of the food chain) in old-growth forests. As the forests are being cut down the habitat of the Spotted Owl is disappearing, and consequently, so are the Spotted Owls. The owl is the “canary in the . . .
 

Inspiration Alaskan wolves, so defined in this stone sculpture by their Inuit-inspired design, pose in two animation extremes of the run—the maximum storing of energy (anticipation or squash) and the maximum release of energy (stretch.) My concern for the safety and future of wolves inspired me to make Run! It is now legal to kill wolves (and grizzly bears) in Alaska’s wildlife refuges. Design-The Challenge of Thin Legs Thin legs have always been a fun challenge for me. I love . . .
 

Older Entries