Getting all set up

We arrived at the house we’re renting on Thursday and started to get settled. Friday we had our orientation to the studio space; learning about how the compressor works, where the tools are, and most importantly, where to dumpster dive for free stone from the stone yard next door. Sculptors have been arriving and leaving both Friday and Saturday and it seems there will be six to twelve of us around this month. Some have been here all winter. So far we’ve met sculptors from Argentina, South Korea, Sweden and even South Carolina, USA. There are others we haven’t talked to enough yet to find out where they’re from.

Tamara and Eirene at the house. Sunshine on our first day!
Looking across the valley from the house, we’re on a pretty steep hill, (more about that on a future blog). Notice the terracing to the right of the house in the photo.
Looking out to the water over the seaside towns, our house is in the foothills of Strettoia 2 miles from the studio.

One of the most remarkable things is that the stone industry is and has been the big industry for a long time, there are stone yards and sculptors and all the related services everywhere you go. Kind of like nirvana or maybe heaven. Yesterday we had a “workers lunch” at a nearby restaurant and we got seated in the not as fancy back room with other stone workers with a blasting gas fireplace (which felt great!). We enjoyed a big lunch for only 12 Euros and we’ve got leftovers!

Part of the studio yard at Studio Pescarella. The sculpture in the foreground is that of Neal Barab, part owner and a UC Santa Cruz grad.
A view of some of the work spaces and the surrounding hills in the background.

Not only are there stone yards EVERYWHERE, there is sculpture everywhere, not just stone, but bronze and steel too. Today we hit a weekly city market to buy some inexpensive warm clothes for the studio and some fresh veggies. We walked out on a pier in nearby Tonfano and there were 11 large sculptures around the fountain and on the pier. We’ve driven by so many I’ve lost count.

So much happens every day right now it’s hard to know where to start sharing experiences with you, some will wait (like tool shopping adventures, that’s a whole post on it’s own). I haven’t even introduced you to my travel partners yet so here goes. I’m sure those of you in the NorthWest Stone Sculptors Association know Tamara Buchanan, a talented and experienced sculptor and teacher, she’s been in Pietrasanta before to sculpt and her experience and interpreting skills have been much appreciated. Eirene Blomberg, like Tamara, hails from Lopez Island and it’s not her first trip to Italy but it’s her first sculpting trip. I’ll try to find some links for photos of their work in a future blog.

Tamara getting her first dose of dust.
Eirene working on a piece of marble rescued from the dumpster.
Unpacking my bag at my workspace on our first day, notice how clean it is (was). Thanks to Tamara for the photo!

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Until next time, Ciao!

I’m Going To Italy!

In March of 2019 I’ll be spending a month in Italy trying to soak up as much marble dust as I can. Studio Pescarella is located between the towns of Carrara and Pietrasanta on the coast of northern Tuscany at the foothills of the Apuan Alps about 20 miles north of Pisa. The Apuan Alps are the source for marble famous for many renaissance sculptures including Michelangelo’s “David,” and has been a source for famous marble for hundreds of years.

This area is full of stone yards, studio spaces and sculptors visiting from all over the world and speaking the common language of stone sculpting. My trip partners are two friends from the Northwest Stone Sculptors Association. We plan to immerse ourselves in stone and creativity and we’ll also leave ourselves time to explore the area and enjoy the people, the history and of course, the food!

We’ll return in April and our crates full of sculpture and raw stone will arrive a month or two later. I’m not much of a writer but I will be posting photos and some thoughts about my experiences here on this Italy blog. I’d love it if you’d follow along, just click the “Follow” link on the bottom right of this page (it means you’ll get an email notification when I post a new blog which will be once or twice a week).

Studio Pescarella has made space available for visiting sculptors from around the world and we’re happy to make this our temporary studio away from home. If you want to follow along with the weather (right now 60 and sunny) just look up the weather where we’ll be staying in a lovely home in nearby Strettoia.

This trip wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for all the support and encouragement from my family, friends, and supporters. Thank you! Special thanks to those helping to fund my trip by having purchased my sculptures, and to the crews that are covering for me while I’m on this big adventure!

Stop by at Karla Matzke’s Sculpture Park and Gallery for a new show March 2. I have three sculptures in the show and 3 new ones for the show coming up in April.

Ripple – Steatite on Steel
Sunburst – Pyrophylite