All the way from Italy!

The stone is here! After a six week long voyage, the Singapore Express went past Whidbey Island on May 16 where I was able to snap a photo as it headed to the Port of Seattle. Then it began its journey to the Freeland Art Studios. The container got delivered to Marenakos Rock Center (thank you Scott Hackney!) on a Tuesday. Eirene (one of my fellow sculptors from Italy) and her husband Zack packed up the truck and trailer on Wednesday and came to Whidbey Island where Tamara (sculptor # 3) joined us. On Thursday the great unpacking at the Freeland Art Studios happened. It was a beautiful day and it was exciting to be reunited with our sculpture and marble.

I hope you’ll come see sculptures I started in Italy and the raw stone at our Ninth Annual Open House at Freeland Art Studios on Saturday, June 15, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This is the journey of the stone in photos. Enjoy!

The container leaving Studio Pescarella in early April.
The Singapore Express sailing past Robinson Beach on Whidbey Island on May 16
It only took 30 minutes for the great crew at Marenakos to unload! A two-forklift day. Orlando and Jon were awesome!
Eirene and the line up of stone at Marenakos Rock Center (thanks Scott and Teri for your help!)
The unloading. 5 crates and two pallets, over 100 pieces of stone.
Unpacking one of the crates of sculpture (Eirene, Justin, Tamara, and Zack)
Lloyd reloading a crate for Eirene and Tamara with Zack’s help on the truck.
My stack of stone, once it all got organized in one pile. Well, not counting the other piles…
A great unloading crew! Sheila the dog, Justin, Tamara, Lloyd, Eirene, Sue and Zack. Thanks for extra help from Ben Mefford, Lane Tompkins, and Therese Kingsbury
“Team Washington,” one of our last days at Studio Pescarella. Photo by Sandy Oppenheimer.

Ciao!

Sue

Quarry Tour

I’m back home but still posting photos from my Italy visit. We packed a lot in for one month so I’ll keep posting until the stone gets here in late May.

On the Sunday preceding our last week at the studio we went on a Quarry Tour. Sunday is the best day to avoid sharing the tiny roads with giant trucks hauling stone. We drove up the mountain outside of Carrara and then the jeep took us up to the near-top of the mountain where we could see numerous quarries. The weather was clear and mild, a great day for being on the mountain.

We drove up this far and then the jeep took us up to that saddle section in the middle of this photo.

Going to the quarry is an opportunity to touch the origin of the stone; to see it where it came from, to appreciate all those centuries this marble sat in a mountain after is was formed. There’s so much history in these mountains, they’ve been quarrying stone since well before Michelangelo and the Renaissance.

Michael (our guide) explained the techniques and some of the current rules and restrictions governing the quarries. At the base there is a small outdoor museum with old equipment and photos that helps illuminate the history of the area and the dangerous work of quarrying marble.

I took hundreds of photos so please appreciate the restraint I’m showing by limiting my choices here. I’m not known for my restraint when it comes to stone (which you likely already know if you’re reading this blog.)

Looking out over multiple quarries to the Mediterranean Sea.
Perspective!
One of the old bridges (its in all the old photographs). This road will take you up to Colonnata.
The “back” side, looking inland. See how tiny the giant earth-moving machines look.
A huge block being carved by an automated machine. There are many places that are doing this now in the area, this studio was at the base of quarry that we toured.
What the sculptures look like after the computerized cutting. Still lots to do by hand. I have no idea whose studio this is.

Even if you’re not a stone sculptor, getting a chance to go on a tour and see a quarry is a pretty amazing thing. If you want more photos, I’ve added some here at the end.

Ciao!

Three happy sculptors. Still happy even though we didn’t get to keep the hardhats!
The “back” side of the mountain.

Blue sky, white marble, big smile! Thanks for the photo Tamara!

Buying stone

You can never have too much stone. That may be what will be on my tombstone. Maybe I’ll have multiple tombstones to make my point. The stone buying in Italy has begun. I’m not sure how much more I’m going to get, I keep thinking “that’s enough for now” and then I think about how some of what I’m seeing I can’t get in the States. I do feel I’m showing some restraint in that we’re planning on filling some crates but not filling our own shipping container. Yet.

Want to see what I got? Of course you do!

My first buy. Just kidding, see below for what I really bought.
From the first source. Not all of these are mine. Most…but not all.
What they look like unloaded. The big “cut off” is Cipollino, white and gray with hints of green. Some Bardiglio and some whites with gray veins.
The stack from Friday. I splashed some water on so you could see the color. The Pink Portuguese Marble is Eirene’s. It was a good day. For scale, the long ones in this photo are 8 feet long.

More stone is being delivered later this week. I have yet to find a chunk of mostly white marble that I have to bring home but lots of lovely Bardiglio and other grays. Did I mention how hard it is to choose?

I love the little trucks here too, now I want a little Piaggio like this one to bring home. Maybe if I got a container I could just put one inside with the stone?

A sweet little Piaggio.

Ciao!

Sunday is our day off

It just so happened that we’re in Italy for one of the biggest Festival experiences in Italy. Carnavale Viareggio is second only to the Carnavale in Venice, and it just happens to be only a half hour from where we are. On Sunday, our day off at the studio, we decided to join the crowds. The guidebooks call it a “once in a lifetime must- see” and they were right.

Three happy artists enjoying the VERY large sculptures of Carnavale

We parked far away and had a lovely walk along the seaside boulevard, which was very Malibu-y. Many places aren’t open and the beach isn’t wall to wall people like it is in the summer. We started to see folks dressed up and since it was mid-afternoon there were lots of families and kids. All the kids had bags of paper confetti to throw and they did enjoy that. I’ve got some still in my shoes, bed and floor.

We bought our tickets and joined the party inside the gates. They have the entire boulevard blocked off to control entry for 2 km long circuit. Each direction is two lanes wide and the floats start moving and go in a large circle. You start seeing these giant floats from far away but you cannot see the entire length of the parade. The largest ones fill the whole street, almost close enough to touch people standing on their balconies three stories up. The floats are made of paper-mache, as they have been since they started way back 140+ years ago. I’m sure they have some rain proofing material on the outside as they seem to be quite permanent, not like the paper-mache I made in grade school.

Here was a busy make-up tent for dancers on the floats. They were hustling to finish everyone, 10 minutes later the parade started and the tent was packed up in flash.

The large floats are animated, some have multiple characters moving in multiple dimensions, it’s an engineering marvel under it all I’m sure. Some are pulled by tractors, others must have some device driving it from the interior, many are pulling large industrial-sized generators to power the lights and who knows what else. There are folks pulling levers and spinning wheels to move certain parts, and they’re doing this for at least 3 hours, impressive! There are dancers on the floats and also lines of dancers in front of the floats, some had some intricate choreography. After 2 hours we started seeing a lot of folks in these costumes at the concession stand or having a cigarette, I think dancing on the floats is more fun the first half hour.

These folks were part of the Trump’s Space Force, after 2 hours the choreography was not happening and they were walking in front of the float smoking.
This was on of the most emotionally powerful floats, it was masterfully done.

The artistry of the floats were amazing, there were some that seemed to be alive, and many had an emotional impact like the whale covered in plastic with oil refineries growing from its back, and a tear coming from its eye. I encourage you to look up some YouTube video of the Carnavale Viareggio 2019, their videos are better than mine and seeing them move is amazing.

They encourage everyone to participate in the parade, no sitting on the curb. Well you can but everyone else is walking around you so you don’t see much this way. You can get right in the street in front of the float (as long as you move out of the way to not get run over).

Tamara taking video from under the whale. you can see how close she is.

So many of the attendees were in costumes, like Halloween. It was great to be able to get up and walk around and follow a float or cross to the other side of the street when you wanted.

Some of the floats were tributes, like the Frida Kahlo, many had to do with the key issues of our times: the environment, bullying, and of course, politics. There were two large-sized Trump floats (and I think a few small ones), one depicting him as “God Emperor Trump,” which was not meant to be complimentary although I understand that some of his fans think it was. The other one was Trump as a baby swimming amongst toys. It doesn’t seem that Italians are fans, another reason to love Italy.

This experience was an amazing “extra” for us. There was so much to see, I’ve added a lot more photos to the end of this blog. It has taken me a few days to get this posted, our wifi here isn’t very robust but I’m grateful we have it. I’m going to publish this while it’s still daytime for you all, it’s still odd being a half a day ahead of you all! Everything at the studio is going great, more tales coming of stone, tools and sculpting…

Caio!