My, She Is Yar

This sculpture was commissioned to commemorate my friend’s 70th birthday. When she came over to see “Because You Asked” she was drawn to how (for the first time) I did not carve every surface of the rock, but left stone uncarved.

I started carving this stone at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although many artists had amazing creative spurts, I found myself a bit paralyzed. Thus, again it was slow going for me and I missed the big birthday date. It was finished “during the year” of the birthday though and she was very kind and patient about it.

Canoeing is one of the many things we have shared together in our friendship. One of the reasons she was attracted to this stone was that one side comes together like a boat’s bow. We were on the same wavelength thinking “boat” and “water” during the carving process.

A boat being yar means it responds well to the sailor’s handling. (It can be spelled as yar or yare but it is pronounced yar.) The name “My, She Is Yar” is a nod to Philadelphia Story staring Katherine Hepburn. Candace came up with the phrase and I clearly remembered “My, she was yar!” in a movie I have not seen for a long long time. At this turning point my friend is recently retired, starting a new decade, starting new activities so I wanted the title to be forward thinking so we changed “was yar” to “is yar”.

The surface of the alabaster stone that she selected had some beautiful texture so I challenged myself through this sculpture to leave even more surface “raw”. When you decide to not carve some parts of the piece, there is some control relinquished. If you shape an edge, it is changed and you can’t take it back and return it to raw. There was a lot of “looking and deciding” before taking each step. A piece like “Life Is But A Dream” was fully mapped out with and had a clay model but this was not the case here.

Dimensions:13″ x 10″ x 8″
Materials:Alabaster (obtained from a vendor in Utah)
Collection:Candace Weber,
Madison, WI

Because You Asked

A sculpture commission for a friend who moved to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The stone is Vermont serpentine (soapstone) which has a green tinge to it. She was drawn to this stone immediately, like there were no other rocks in the room. Her request was a challenge for me in that she asked that I  leave some of the stone unfinished. It’s quite a different mindset. It changes things more than you’d expect. Base is Yule marble, a fragment of a sculpture done awhile ago named Yuletto.

Dimensions:20″ x 8″ x 8″
Materials:Vermont serpentine (soapstone)
Collection:Marni Fisher
Black Creek, BC, CA

Life Is But A Dream

I have had the amazing privilege of floating down some rivers with the couple who commissioned this piece on the occasion of their 10-year anniversary. They spent a nice afternoon looking at the stones on offer. The orange onyx selected evoked a boat shape.

Dimensions:14″ x 10″ x 10″ 14”
Materials:Utah alabaster and pink marble
Collection:Katia Marshall & Jeanne Welch
Madison, Wisconsin

Tiger To Mountain

This taiji inspired sculpture is based on a squatting move that I can not do because of Achilles issues. It is sort of a talisman… perhaps some day I will have strong heels. “Taiji” is a different spelling for T’ai Chi which is a martial art that uses the mind to coordinate soft, flowing movements with breath.

The stone had some gold and gray veining. It had metal flecks in it that made it a bit hard to carve at times and hard on the tools.

Dimensions:6″ x 6″ x 6″
Last Shown2012 Madison Children’s Museum
Collection of the artist:Deb Vandenbroucke
Madison, Wisconsin


Taiji Warmups

I made a small thank you sculpture for my teacher upon finishing learning the 127 posture T’ai Chi form the first time. We are always learning. The rock suggested some of the movements we do to warm up ‘Buddah Arms’ plus a bit of single whip. A graceful stance for some niegong breathing.

This was made for my teacher Terri Pellitteri who teaches taiji at GHC, Madison Daoguan (now gone), and on the roof of Monona Terrace in the warm weather.

About 8 years ago I ordered stone from a sculpture house (that is no longer in business) and had them send me some various-sized stones; I left it up to them to pick them out. I was pretty disappointed in some of them. This is very small piece of marble was underwhelming – about 5″ at the widest point. Just goes to show you every rock has it’s day!

Dimensions:4″ x 3″ x 1″
Collection:Terri Pellitteri
Madison, Wisconsin


Karen Combs and a friend at the opening event

The sculpture is a person wrapped in cloth. The marble is mostly white but has some gold and green areas. Perhaps Yuletto’s wrap makes her feel protected (hugged) emotionally but the viewer can see that it is not substantial so maybe the viewer knows more about the situation then she does. A song from the play “Into the Woods” comes to mind.   There is a great lyric sung by the Red Riding Hood character: “Do not put your faith in a cape and a hood, They will not protect you  the way that they should…. “I have the feeling that Yuletto hasn’t quite learned that yet. …still she has a lot of inner strength, dignity, perseverance and calmness.The sculpture is placed in a large room within a bank of windows that looks out over a big sky and desert landscape. The house and the base were designed by Stephen Boelter. I’m not making this up when I tell you that the day we installed it a full rainbow arched across the landscape.The couple who commissioned this piece chose a 250 pound stone from Marble Colorado and drove it out to Wisconsin for a sculpture. Karen named it “Yuletto” because the name of the quarry is “Yule”, they really like Christo’s (wrapped art), and “ette” is a feminine suffix (dude-ette).

La Bella Figura

Photo from opening announcement

by Poem by Jules Wolf Stenzel
you name it permanance
this slice of crystalline limestone
though I know it to be a kind of motion
slower than our hearts beating brief ennui
slower than millenia
we are its blink–
your work
merely quickening its progress
pieces falling away like
paths sidetracking ambition
fragmenting off the form
the assumed solidity
of permanance
is actually its transformation through this
little earth, little galaxy
the swirl of the marble: the echo of the milky way,
the echo of DNA
here, linking us, we chip away at the shape
of foretelling
I envision you
focusing, clarifying
zooming in on planets, galaxies, dreams, hope in the
thought of the sculpture
I envision your body wrapped around it like a lover
wrapped within it like an enchantment
the cool smoothness you give it: the snag
it hooks you by
and when you look away
out of the corner of your eye
you see yourself
polished within

Dimensions:6″x 8″ x 36″
Materials:Yule Marble (Also used for the Tomb of the unknown soldier and the Lincoln Memorial.)
Collection:Karen Combs
Grand Junction, Colorado


Reading (Snow White)

Reading collage over Snow White jigsaw puzzle

Ah the power of reading and fairy tales! This puzzle collage has many images of women and girls reading. Reading, eating, and exercising are subjects that I have not exhausted yet.

Doctors, hair cutters, and auto mechanics should not leave me in their waiting room too long. The next customer will certainly find a hole or two in the pages. I can not help but scour waiting room magazines for collage images. There are so many publications that I do not subscribe to. I try to be discreet when I plunder so as not to attract dirty looks. Well, that is, unless the appointment is running dreadfully late!

Collection:Available for sale by the artist Deb Vandenbroucke
Puzzle Title:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Scot Gustafson
26.8″ x 19.3″ (1000 piece puzzle)

When Needed Use Leg Strength for Balance

Collage over Bavarian building jigsaw puzzle

Growing up I always loved these overbearingly cheerful Bavarian buildings. Now my more cynical self expects hidden dark secrets under the surface. In this puzzle collage almost everyone is smiling; lips and eyes are amongst the firewood and flowers.

I used to travel quite a bit for my moneymaking job. The perfect use of time waiting in airports was cutting out images. It takes a lot of time to do a precise job on small pictures, and time is what you have in those situations. Unfortunately, this use of time is long gone. They won’t allow anyone to take scissors onto airplanes anymore. Except for the presentation on this web site, there are no digital images in these collages. All pictures are found in popular culture print materials (magazines, brochures, programs, etc) and cut out with scissors.

The puzzle collages are framed with glass and clips. If I were wealthy, I would love to pick out just the right mat and frame for each one.

Collection:Available for sale by the artist
Deb Vandenbroucke
Puzzle Title:


Gramisch – Partenkirchen,
West Germany
18 15/16″ x 26 3/4″ (1000 piece puzzle)

The Understanding

The Understanding

Although this sculpture is now in a beautiful sculpture park, it was originally created for a home in Syracuse, NY. The space was a shelf between two rooms and was elevated to just a bit above “couch height”. Although it was visible from many angles, it was framed by the shelf and pillars proscenium style. Now unencumbered by architecture, the outdoor setting allows the viewer a more fluid experience to walk the piece.I had to work outside on this sculpture because of its size. Living in Wisconsin limited the work to “the warm months”.  Little did they know that it would take me 5 years to fill their request. In that time I had to acquire tools and built carts to accommodate working on large stones.The two blocks of stone arrived at my home studio in Madison, Wi on a truck and weighed 1 ton and 1.5 tons. They were moved with a fork lift onto wheeled carts which I made; luckily my fear of them falling apart with the weight of the stone was unfounded. It was glorious when the fork lift put the stone on the cart and it didn’t collapse!

Eastside News Article (2000)
Syracuse Post Standard Article (2009)

I sculpted the stone on the 2.5 ft high carts and moved the sculpture to the shelf in the home. Thus and so the piece was always elevated until it was installed in the sculpture park. A friend of mine said “I hope you finished the top as well as you did the rest of it!”

I had a bit of the visiting artist experience while working on the piece outside in my neighborhood. It is rather a busy corner and people would stop by to look or to ask questions. A road worker decided that my backyard table would be a great place to eat lunch. He sat down with his lunch box and watched as he ate. One day he brought me a welder’s sponge to go under my full face shield mask to aid as a sweat band since it was so hot working out there in the summer. Another day I was working with a power tool and not aware of anything around me and I turned around and there were a class of students (who walk by to use the park for the ball field) were surrounding me and they had lots of questions – instant field trip I guess!

This sculpture is about a relationship. Two entities in close proximity show evidence of compromising with the other. Conflict and embrace can look similar as in the sport of wrestling.

Materials:Bedford Limestone of 2 different colors
Collection:Donna Z. Ferne and family
Installed since 2009 in: Stone Quarry Hill Art Park – New York
Youtube: Art Park Setting

If You Only Knew

If You Only Knew

A lot of my recurring themes come back in this commissioned piece. Body and flower forms intertwine so that you can’t tell where one starts and the other ends, nor what shape they are if they let go of each other. The idea of a reassuring hug and the element of touch are very important. When this sculpture was finished, I wrote these notes for the buyer:

  • The sculpture can mean whatever you wish it to mean. It has a life of its own now. When I was working on it, I was thinking about emotion and how it is internalized. I was thinking about swirling emotions and how the outside might not totally reflect the inside – from the “back” you can not see the swirling inside of the “front”. I hope some of that idea is reflected in it. Thus the name “If You Only Knew” because you can not always know what someone else is feeling. The outside might not even let you in on it.
  • The stone for “If You Only Knew” was purchased from: Montoya Sculpture Supply in Florida. The stoned weighed 95 lbs to start with. There was a fancy name for the stone in the catalogue to lure you but it is simply “alabaster” from Mexico.
  • Occasionally when in progress I would need to wash down the stone and when I did it was so fragrant. I even had people“sniff” it for me! We identified it as a strong clay smell – it was very earthy and a wonderful surprise.
  • The green part of the stone has a special feature. I think of this area as “right of front”. My geologist friend got all excited when she saw it because she said it is “oolitic” – (consisting of spherical or sub-spherical particles of calcite-coated grains of sand.) . This means that it was on its way to becoming limestone but just did not get there yet. This stone was definitely not “done” becoming what it was going to be when conditions changed and development stopped.
  • When I started the final sanding, I used water with the sandpaper. The “left of front” portion of the stone eroded away slightly. You will see that the “lip line” of the curve has a small bit out of it now but it was a perfect curve before using water. I hope you think it is interesting because I left the flaw to show this strange feature of the stone. It was hardened everywhere but there was still a soft streak in it. This weakness was a surprise.
  • Also in the stone are some fine lines that look like cracks or white lines. These are fissures or faults in the stone. They go all the way through the sculpture and are not unusual in alabaster. When working on the stone it was important to not hammer the chisel in these spots because the stone could have split there.
  • The sculpture took two years from start to finish because I worked on it only in the cold weather while I was finishing the big limestone sculpture The Understanding. Once that was shipped off to Syracuse, I worked “If You Only Knew” from mid July – mid September 2000 for 4-6 hours/day. During the winter months and those last few months, it was heaven to really concentrate on this stone.
  • To carve the stone I first used the pneumatic hammer and chisel to rough it out, then hand chisel and hammer. Mostly though, I used rasps to shape it. The size ranged from 14 inch/typical half round wood rasp to tiny 1/8 inch rasps to make those lines perfect and beautiful. Various sandpapers helped in shaping it; I especially like sandpaper used by auto body repair shops. 60-80-100 grit sandpapers are used early on. To finalize the shape 100 grit sandpaper is used everywhere, getting the shape exactly how I wanted it. Sometimes I had to back track to rasps and chisels if a shape was not working properly. 100 grit sandpaper takes the longest because it is a commitment! Each sanding has to be thorough. You can’t skip or do a sloppy job or the stone will not live up to its potential luster. Each sanding took 3-4 hours. 100 grit sandpaper probably took 15 hours. After 100 were 120, 150, 220, 240 with water and the rest are with water – 320, 440, 600 and for fun I even used 1500 grit sandpaper! I had it around and thought I’d use it. My friend Karen, also a sculptor, commented, “may as well use a piece of typing paper!”
Completed: 2000
Dimensions: 10″ x 12″ x 9″
Materials: Mexican Alabaster
Collection: Brad and Sherry Eichhorst
Hawaii and Minnesota

With our Projector He’s Even Brighter

Collage on Mt Rushmore puzzle (full)

Images arrive at my door unbidden. It is hard to avoid getting magazines and advertisements through the mail. I wage a constant campaign to keep off of mailing lists and in spite of my diligent efforts, the house is flooded with glossy catalogues and ads. After I finished the two collage portraits, I decided to start harvesting the materials at hand. Ends up I look more closely at what arrives in my mailbox as I’m always on the look out for a picture that resonates.

How fun it was to play with this heroic image. It felt like “letting the girls out”.

Collection:Available for sale by the artist
Deb Vandenbroucke
Puzzle Size:
Mount Rushmore, SD
20 1/8″ x 26 3/16″ (1000 piece puzzle)
Big Ben
Milton Bradley

I Really Did Miss You

I Really Did Miss You

This sculpture was a chip off of “The Understanding“. It was a great day when that corner The Undertstandingcame off and the shape of the stone really spoke to me.

There is a vulnerable feeling to this sculpture and for me evokes the desire to protect.

(The color is way off in some of these pictures so I grayed the out.)

Completed: 1998
Dimensions: 6″ x 6″ x 3/4 “
Materials: Bedford Limestone
Collection: Tricia and Dermot Colan
World Travelers
Click to see: Dermot’s nature photography

Your Success in Life Must be Earned with Earnest Efforts

This collage was made for a benefit show at a women’s event.

After the puzzle pieces are assembled, I introduce images from popular culture that might be a good match. My work table is full of small cutouts that swirl over the puzzle surface. “Is this right?” “Does this one resonate?” “Lips here?” A veritable dance of images over the jigsaw puzzle ensues. It can go on for days and months. During this time, some phrase or other from an advertisement, picture caption, or fortune cookie presents itself as a required element. This becomes the title of the piece.

Experimenting with images is a nice counterpoint to stone carving. The process is playful, results are immediate and changes can be made quickly. With stone I must contemplate the next move and be sure it is what I want to do. In collage I just try it out and accept or reject the juxtaposition.

Collection:Stacy Siebert
Madison, WI
Puzzle Title:


Kings Canyon, Sierra Nevada, CA
19 7/8″ x 13 7/8″ (500 piece puzzle)
Milton Bradley

Wordless (1996)

Soft, collapsed and purse-like, the image of this sculpture came to me in a flash and it was carved very quickly – in just a month or two. I brought it to a New Year’s Eve party as my “date” and to my delight a friend who was leaving town decided to add it to her collection.

The Undertstanding

This sculpture was a chip off of The Understanding and the one that “almost” got away in that I didn’t have any photos of this sculpture before it left town. At long last, due to connecting over social media I was able to add it to the portfolio.

Dimensions:6″ x 8″ x 6 “
Materials:Bedford Limestone
Collection:Katie Gray
Austin, Tx

Bloom for Emily

Another sculpture in the “Little Ditties to be Seen as You Like” series. I made this for my niece Emily when she was just a pup.

Much like a worry stone, I hope she finds it a comforting object in her life.

Dimensions:6″ x 6″ x 4 “
Collection:Dr. Emily Vandenbroucke St. Amant
Chicago, Illinois

Wordless (1995)

I made this small sculpture as a present for my brother and his wife for their wedding. The stone was very irregular in shape. I started by smoothing the curves that it already had and kept on going. It’s one of those classic moments when I can say “the stone told me what to do.”

Dimensions:8″ x 8″ x 6″
CollectionGary and Laura Vandenbroucke
Morton Grove, IL

As You Wish

As You Wish

This onyx stone is very beautiful but it was difficult to work with because it shatters easily. I started this many years earlier but gave up with frustration – this was before diamond tools were readily available. The rock moved with me several times before I went back to it knowing patience was required. This sculpture is among those I have carved with the theme of body and emotion, especially those effecting the stomach – feeling things in your gut.

Dimensions:18″ x 18″ x 12″
Collection:Mary H Knotts, MD
Madison, Wisconsin


This sculpture was a return to stone carving after graduate school. I had acquired this piece of marble as an undergraduate and moved it with me from place to place. One day I had an inspiration for a sculpture. Once again it was a form that could be one entity or two entwined. It was like coming home to carve stone again.

Dimensions:14″ x 6″ x 6″
CollectionHeidi and Dave Sweet
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin