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Wood no more, art aplenty
Like looking at the clouds, works by the artists in Olympic Driftwood Sculptors can resemble anything from a sailboat to an animal — most importantly, no two pieces are the same.
Artists find their materials on the beach, in forest clear-cuts or underground.
Dee Kalapaca has been with the club two years and became a member one month after viewing a show at the Dungeness River Audubon Center.
“What can that be?” Kalapaca said, about looking at the different artworks. “I was blown away by the beauty of the pieces.”
Kalapaca thought the art looked approachable and like something she could do.
“Anyone can work on a piece and take it to infinity,” she said.
Since October 2008, a group of 13 artists has grown to 90 who share the love of whittling, scraping and sanding wood.
Beginning June 1, some of their work comes to the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, 175 W. Cedar St. Driftwood will be on display all month, with a First Friday art reception running 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 3. The museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
Tuttie Peetz, club co-founder, said they drew their club’s teachings from the driftwood ideology of the LuRon method, in which artists don’t use electric tools or attach anything non-driftwood to the art. LuRon artists use elk horn to burnish the wood and turpentine and beeswax to create a shine. Olympic Driftwood Sculptors evolved, however, to allow a variety of materials with their art, such as glass and metal.
“We don’t want to put an artist in a box,” Peetz said.
She’s found they still are overcoming stereotypes as artists.
“We’re developing it as a fine art rather than as a craft,” Peetz said. “We want to be as creative as possible and expanding imagination.”
One of Kalapaca’s driftwood pieces, “Calypso,” was a root she molded for eight months.
“Each piece is dictated by what nature provides,” Kalapaca said. “The most popular ones in shows are the ones people can relate to because it looks like something. I like when it’s not specific.”
Marilyn Bruning of Sequim said people easily notice how immersed in their art driftwood sculptors can be. “People will come in and say it looks like this or that,” Bruning said. “It gives you a new perspective.”
Ginny Bullock of Sequim said she’s not sure where she’s going with her current art piece but finds that to be fun. “You’ll never find another piece like it,” Bullock said. “It’s really interesting to see different pieces and see how (artists) finish them. Everybody has a different interpretation.”
Bruning said the best part of going to their monthly meetings at the Sequim Prairie Grange is getting comments from other sculptors.
“It keeps you going,” she said. “We don’t judge pieces. It’s an unusually collegial and collaborative group. So often there’s competition, but not here. No one is doing the same piece.”
Bullock said she’s not a joiner at all but once she started driftwood art, she felt healthier and happier.
Compared to her former artistic love of needlework, she finds driftwood allows her to express herself and socialize more.Bruning used to oil paint but now focuses on driftwood. “I have three (oil) pieces just sitting (at home) unfinished,” she said.
The term “driftwood” is a misnomer among the group as many of the club members find their wood in clear-cuts or by digging. Bruning said wood from clear-cut forests is not silvered out or soft from water. Her current piece of art came out of red dirt.
“You never know what you’re going to get,” Bruning said.
Wood also is available from club members, benefiting club operations. Peetz said driftwood art is an inexpensive hobby and people need only a few tools and sandpaper.
Olympic Driftwood Sculptors gave its first $500 college scholarship last year and intends to award another in 2011. Members meet from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road.
Meetings are open to guests. Members can participate in shows, go on field trips to find wood and travel to view other shows. Peetz said they have up to five shows per year in the area.
Monday workshops led by Peetz run 4:30-6:30 p.m. for six weeks at a time. The next series starts in June and costs $40. Call Tuttie Peetz at 683-6860 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olympic Driftwood Sculptors is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and can be reached online at www.olympicdriftwood
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.