Arts and Entertainment

Sculpting to prominence

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by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Driftwood can be found on a beach, in a forest or in a trade with friends.

 

Finding driftwood artists and their finest work is even easier. On June 24-25, the Peninsula Driftwood Artists host their 42nd annual show at the Sequim Elks Lodge.
 


Beverly Valasquez of Sequim has been active off-and-on with the Peninsula Driftwood Artists for nearly two years. A neighbor told her about the club. “I found this organization to be so wonderful,” Valasquez said.


 

“We’ve been faithful to the concept that we don’t tell what the piece is, but it tells us what it is,” said Bill Cunningham, a club member for 20 years.

 

The art show features new, juried artwork selected by the nearly 30 club members along with their favorite past work. Don Taylor, president of Pacific Northwest Wood Artisans and Pat Donlin, club historian, will judge the new art.

 

The free show has a raffle for art and gift certificates, driftwood demonstrations and unfinished wood for sale.

 

Sequim resident Elizabeth Swanson started the club years ago after studying with Lucile Worland, who adapted the “LuRon” method that driftwood artists use as their basis for sculpture techniques.

 

Artists use a number of tools to scrape, shape and grit down the wood before burnishing it with deer/elk horns and sometimes shining it with beeswax.

 

Members say you can use just about anything to get into crevices and it’s not uncommon for them to ask their dentists for leftover picks.

 

Wood can come out of unconventional places, too, like a fish tank.

Driftwood for life

Shirley Stoll of Sequim has been a member for 20 years; she got hooked after seeing driftwood art at the Clallam County Fair. She had never done woodworking before then.

 

“I’m from Montana. We don’t have driftwood there,” she joked. Stoll said she loves working with wood.

“My first piece took me a year,” she said about staying patient. “I keep giving them all away to my kids. They practically fight over them.”

 

Yolanda Proulx, certified LuRon instructor, said the club maintains a friendly atmosphere.

 

“It’s a hobby, not a career for anybody,” Proulx said. “People take this to occupy their time. If they want to be competitive, there are other clubs.”

 

Club member Marlene Lambert has been shaping driftwood for nearly two years and said it’s an ongoing learning process. “What you learn on the first piece doesn’t apply to the next piece,” Lambert said.

 

Lambert and Shirley Rouleau find the preliminary cleaning of the driftwood to be the best part of the process.

 

“You get down to the good wood and see changes right away,” Lambert said.

 

Charlie Johnson, club president pro tem, said he’s entering his piece “The Falls” in the show after 18 months of work. “I did little ones in between,” he said. “I’m not the fastest worker but it looks great.”

 

Johnson said the piece took a lot of scraping and four different grits of sandpaper, which almost wore the skin from his hand.

 

“That’s thing with driftwood, just because you are doing something a certain way doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way,” Johnson said.

Showtime

Some of the members attribute the club’s annual shows to their own beginnings as artisans.

 

Johnson said he visited a show more than four years ago and found his background in the hardwood business as a good opportunity.

 

Susan Lamica of Port Angeles has been a member for two months and said she’s noticed the club before and thought their members’ work was beautiful.

 

“It’s (the work is) a lot of repetition but I don’t seem to notice,” Lamica said. “It’s just nice to be creative.”

Peninsula Driftwood Artists’ show runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, June 24, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, June 25. The club meets 10 a.m.-2 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 Blake Ave., Sequim.

 

Dues are $15 a year; $40 for ongoing classes; $1 each for 1-4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday workshops. Contact Yolanda Proulx at 681-8825.

 

For more information on the club, visit www.peninsuladriftwoodartists.org.

 

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

 

 

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