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


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


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

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

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


I made this small sculpture as a present for my brother and his wife for their wedding.

Dimensions:8″ x 4″ x 5″
Materials:Black African Wonderstone
Collection:Dav and Fran Vandenbroucke
Alexandria, Va

Little Ditty For Janet

I was interested in the idea of small sculptures that you might just “come upon” on a walk outdoors or in a house. Not a formally shown work of Art but just something more intimate that you pick up and look at. This is the first in an ongoing series of Little Ditties to be Seen as you Like.

Dimensions:6″ x 6″ x 3/4″
Materials:Black African Wonderstone
Last seen:This sculpture was given as a gift to my great friend and mentor Janet Miller, who is no longer with this world.  Chicago, IL.


Alborine is a stone used to top laboratory tables. It is very hard and I had no idea what a challenge I was taking on. I bought 2 of these stones and had the idea of one vertical and one horizontal with a specific relationship to each other. The horizontal stone idea faded as I broke carbide tipped chisels working on this one.

Dimensions:28″ x 15″ x 18″
Collection:Patricia Raube
Binghamton, New York


Alborine is a stone used to top laboratory tables. It is very hard and I had no idea what a challenge I was taking on. I bought 2 of these stones and had the idea of one vertical and one horizontal with a specific relationship to each other. The horizontal stone idea faded as I broke carbide tipped chisels working on this one.

Completed: 1981
Dimensions: 28″ x 15″ x 18″
Materials: Alborine
Collection: Patricia Raube
Binghamton, New York


This Flower sculpture was made in tribute to Georgia O’Keeffe. It is made out of a wonderful soft sedimentary rock from South Africa.

I studied stone carving with Nita Sunderland at Bradley University, Peoria, IL. She was a gruff teacher and is an excellent sculptor. I carved this over the summer when school was out of session. When Nita came back and learned I had finished the piece, she told me she hoped I wasn’t too in love with it because she hadn’t seen it. My stomach lurched at the idea of having to change the form that I truly loved. (This is the one sculpture I will always keep.) I then showed it to her and she had nothing to say. She thought it was great too.

Dimensions:8″ x 18″ x 12″
Materials:Black African Wonderstone
Collection:Deb Vandenbroucke (the artist)
Madison, WI


This sculpture is a variation on The Marble, a sculpture I imagined large enough to climb on. The form is even more organic and is foreshadowing of sculptures to come.

Dimensions:14″ x 12″ x 12″
Last Seen:Nancy Renfer of Sycamore, IL received this sculpture as a gift and I have long lost track of her.

The Marble

This was my first stone sculpture. Eureka College did not have pneumatic carving tools so it was made with traditional hammer and chisel.

I was thinking of this piece as a model for a huge 2-story one that you could climb into. If I could lean my whole body into the shape it would have felt cool and comforting.

Dimensions:27″ x 24″ x 8″
Last Seen:Katy Weeks and Dave Kay
Harvard, Massachusetts