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Let It Snow

Let It Snow, sculpture by Ellen Woodbury


“Let It Snow.” Easy to say in the middle of July, and I would be upset if we did have a snowstorm tomorrow, but I do love snow.   I love to look at it, walk in it, ski through it.  Shoveling it?  OK with me.

I love how it transforms my neighborhood into a fairyland of huge pristine muffins and lacy trees. I love how the wind carves it into sleek shapes, and the sunlight and shadows bend and stop with its curves and edges—just like white marble.

The cardinal was one of the first birds I learned to identify as a kid in upstate New York, and a winter icon that strikes a perennial responsive chord with me. They were frequent visitors to my Dad’s bird feeder, easy to spot and easy to whistle their call.


When I first saw translucent orange alabaster I knew I had to make a couple of cardinals from it. Finding the right pieces for the stone sculpture took some time, but the wait was worth it. The male is carved from a brilliant piece of deep red-orange, the female is carved from a piece with a lot of white in it, creatively mimicking the bright versus drab coloring of the genders.

Reliable and Beautiful

Translucent orange alabaster is a super stone to carve, not chippy or crumbly, and holds an edge quite well. The stones I have carved have been sound and tight—a term used by stone sculptors to indicate a reliable stone with no gaps or other unwelcome surprises.   We stone sculptors describe a stone as “tight!” with an enthusiastic emphasis, indicating the shared woes of beautiful stones that have fallen apart in the making.

A Caution

Finishing translucent orange alabaster is another story. Sanding is a breeze, and the color comes up nicely with a boost from a chemical color enhancer. However, do not sand this stone above 600-grit or you may get more information than you desire.

The stone is translucent, so when you clear the surface of miniscule scratches, you can see the crystal structure within the stone, and this detracts from the rich orange color.

Once you have the 600-grit silky smoothness of the surface (skin,) it is extremely fragile. A fingernail can scratch it. Most gorgeous color in stone comes with a caveat, so this is no surprise and no exception.

My Personal Fun

The challenge and fun in working with stone is discovering the nature of it, and then using it to greatest advantage. I find making art from a little piece of the earth to be profoundly satisfying.

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Let It Snow

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