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Male Quail

Mail Quail, sculpture by Ellen Woodbury


This stone sculpture is made from the second half of the Dolomitic Limestone block from which “Save the Tiger” was carved. What a pleasure to revisit this stone! It is hard and predictable if one does not run into large vugs (porosities).  The color is that of milk chocolate with delicate black vein. Delicious!

Stone Smells

Every stone has a particular smell detectable only when the stone is cut: black marble smells like swamp gas, white marble smells like the ocean, and so on. Often smells become “coded” and acquire a larger meaning when associated with another experience. Such is the case with Dolomitic Limestone, the smell of which is akin to home-baked cookies for this sculptor. . . .

Allow me to explain. I had the pleasure of working in a professional stone studio in Denver for a year with several awesome sculptors.

One of these artists is my friend and mentor, Madeline Weiner. Her stone of choice is Dolomitic Limestone, and on cutting into this block a month ago, I was immediately transported back to that time in 2010 when I worked in her studio.  The wonderful memory came rushing back in perfect clarity and all at once from that familiar smell. What an incredible organ is the nose!

Special Christmas Commission

Male Quail was made as a private commission for one of my Disney friends as a Christmas gift for her husband. I instantly related to her request for a California Quail since they lived in the wooded areas of my old neighborhood in Valencia, CA.

I loved seeing these funny little birds when my husband and I went walking through the natural canyon lands. They have their own rhythms of movement, bouncy and quick, with the head feather overlapping but also able to be controlled independently with tiny muscles in their skin. It is my nature to find humor in just about everything, and these quail were a delight to watch.

Delightful Creation

This sculpture was also a delight to carve. I worked as a Disney Animator for 20 years and was accustomed to acting out and “being” my characters while animating them. This practice carries over to my sculpture.  I think of the carving process as a sustained performance much like my approach to animation. Consequently I have the huge pleasure of being the subject of my sculpture until it is done—so much fun to be a quail!


Design is obviously very important in visual mediums. Quail designs, all bird designs, can be composed of simple shapes if one is an informed designer/observer.

Quail have no bumps or edges when running around on the ground—only the beak and top feather interrupt the smooth flowing lines of the silhouette. Different postures create different changes in shape and are so much fun to explore.

I love discovering just the right pose to communicate what I want to say through the sculpture. I hope “fun”is one of the words that pops into your head when you see this.

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Male Quail

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