Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Soapstone carving - a unique opportunity for youth and adults

By Sally Searls, Rec & Ed Lifelong Learning Manager

I love working with soapstone -- so soft, relaxing, and peaceful.
-- Participant in our soapstone carving workshop 

We receive lots of comments like this after we hold our annual Soapstone Carving Workshop for adults and  Soapstone Camp/3D Sculpture for kids. Soapstone is a gorgeous rock, with deep blue and grey hues and beautiful veining. Its name reflects the ease with which it can be carved -- even by novice sculptors. 

A unique Rec & Ed workshop and camp only offered once a year


Ten years ago, I invited Max Sexsmith, a Canadian sculptor, to teach Quest Campers how to carve in soapstone. (Quest camp brought in artists and teachers for morning programs and provide a typical day camp in the afternoon.) Max also agreed to offer an adult workshop in the evenings.  
Max Sexsmith, Canadian artist

Since then, every summer Max has come to Ann Arbor with a truckload of Quebec soapstone to teach children and adults this enjoyable skill.

A Peterborough, Ontario resident, Max started carving this intriguing material in the mid 1990's. He took courses at the Haliburton School of Fine Arts for several years. Later he increased his knowledge by taking a course at the Ottawa Art Gallery taught by Natar Ungalaq an Inuit artist from Igloolik, Nunavut.  

His enthusiasm for carving and sharing his experiences especially with children has brought Max to school classrooms, summer camps, workshops and art shows across southern Ontario.  

Testimonials tell the story
“Working with beautiful stone is wonderful.”

“This is one of the best workshops I have ever taken.”

“I hope that you continue to offer this class each summer.”

“Teacher very helpful and clever with design.”
“Max was extremely helpful to everyone.  He is really good!”

As you can tell from the testimonials, Max is well-liked by our students. He is soft-spoken, gentle and skilled at helping students, both adults and kids, select a stone and see the sculpture in its form. 

Some people return each year to make a new dolphin, bear or whatever they choose, while others are content to make one piece. Either way, each takes home an amazing piece of art they crafted.  

Max supports each student, whether it is introducing newbies to the stone and files, giving advice to experienced carvers or helping a student create just the right shape for the inukshuk.

Whether you are an adult or student entering grades 3 - 8, you can learn to carve  this beautiful stone. Enjoy this unique, once a year opportunity through Rec & Ed. For more information go to Soapstone Carving Workshop or Soapstone Carving and 3D Sculpture Camp. Max is able to accommodate you if you can only enroll in one of the two evening sessions for the adult workshop.  Also, students may enroll in either section of the Soapstone Carving camp (afternoon session) and 3D Sculpture camp (afternoon session). 

Call Sally at Rec & Ed, 734-994-2300 ext. 53219 for more information.

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