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Master of Disguise

Master of Disguise, sculpture by Ellen Woodbury


I created “Master of Disguise” as a private stone sculpture commission for a family on the East coast.

The eldest son had an internship at the National Zoo in the Invertebrate Department caring for the cuttlefish. The entire family learned about and became fascinated with the cuttlefish as a result of his internship.

When they asked me to create a sculpture of the cuttlefish, this creature came to fascinate me as well.

Some Background Info

There are over 100 species of cuttlefish.  They live just about everywhere in the oceans of the world except the waters around the U.S.

Cuttlefish are highly intelligent cephalopods related to octopus.  They change both color and shape in a matter of seconds to blend with their environment. The opposite side of “Master of Disguise” shows the cuttlefish camouflaged and blending in with the aquatic plants.

Stone as Cuttlefish Skin

Layers of pigment cells comprise the most amazing skin of the cuttlefish..  This special skin gives them the ability to change to a variety of colors.

Their eyesight is excellent.  They can morph shapes in their skin to mimic the shapes of plants and rocks in their vicinity. This is their only defense against the many predators who feast on cuttlefish.  Just about everybody, including people, eat cuttlefish.

One of the layers of pigment cells in their skin is shades of red, orange, and brown.  I chose to carve this sculpture from Rosso Verona, an Italian decorative marble with similar colors.

Delightful Adventure

The research, planning, and sculpting of “Master of Disguise” was an adventure and a delight. This animal looks like a spaceship with tentacles and has unreal talents to match its appearance.

I knew nothing about cuttlefish until this commission.  I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about and interpret such a natural wonder.

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Master of Disguise

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