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Saturday
Nov172007

California's First International Jade Carvers Workshop

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The Carving Workshop participants not only learned new carving techniques but shared many of their own techniques with the group.
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New Zealand jade master Donn Salt shared many of his working procedures with younger carvers and made new friends wherever he went.
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And here is another small piece just about finished.
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This large piece of jade was marked up before cutting.
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Some worked outside and some inside..... but the experience was wonderful for all.
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Matt Glasby is a young California jade carver who has made a considerable reputation already.
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This small piece in progress lies on a large jade slab. The week's workshop provided plenty of time to collaborate on techniques, share concepts, and make new friends.

As the sun set at this years Jade Festival, most of us Jade fanatics felt like those heading home from a pilgramage to our Jade Mecca. After basking in the warm coastal sun and seeing and touching Jade for three days we had to resolve ourselves to the promise of "next year" as we re-enter our respective "regular" lives. However for a select few this year's Jade Festival was only the beginning of a once in a lifetime experience in Jade. As Joan and I packed up and rushed home we did so with the urgency of knowing that in three days our home would be packed with six students and (in my opinion) two teachers who are among the worlds best Jade carvers. Deborah Wilson and Donn Salt were here to pass on to California carvers lessons that have taken decades to perfect. From the first day I was captured by the thought that from locations near opposite poles of this planet (British Columbia and New Zealand) two carvers were meeting in the middle ( California ) to impart their respective knowledge and passion for carving jade. Each of these carvers come from areas where there is a rich Jade carving culture. In contrast to this, California has had only a few carvers, with Don Wobber leading the charge as our standard bearer.

For years J.C.Buller (a fellow Jade Festival dealer) and I talked of the potential California Jade could have if a new generation of carvers were raised up to create a distinctive California style and culture.

A few years ago the Festival faithful met Deborah Wilson and her art, being introduced to us through J.C. Buller. It was just last year J.C. showed one of Donn Salt's exceptional carvings. Through his contacts with Don and Deborah this year we hosted the first ever California International Jade Carvers Workshop with Donn Salt and Deborah Wilson teaching.

Upon our arrival home our plan was to look over my workshop with Deborah and Donn to see what we needed to set up an inside and outside workspace. The inside space would primarily be used by Donn for demonstrating and instructing students on his unique style of carving small pieces. The outside was set up for Deborah to do a carving project using a one hundred ten pound piece of Polar Jade. The planning and preparation time was frantic and when the workshop started on Friday our students were greeted by two instructors, a modest setting and a sense of something special about to take place. Donn spoke in the morning and both instructors began their projects in the afternoon. By mid-afternoon all of the students had chosen a project of their own and were hard at work stopping only to ask a question or to observe Deborah or Donn at work. It was fascinating to see how quickly Donn could carve a definning line in the small piece he was working on. However, for Deborah that same definition would take an hour as she would have to remove pounds to the grams Don was taking away. At times students were allowed to use Donn's air tool under his supervision and then go outside and use Deborah's huge angle grinder to help shape the project she was carving. What a dynamic process to be exposed to. As the six day workshop reached the mid-point we were seeing some wonderful pieces of art emerge. Donn's Jade Cove cobble was well on it's way to becoming a treasure. Deborah's large piece was showing its shape and the students were showing everyone there was a reason to hope for California carvers.

The students who attended the first international Jade carvers workshop are: Justin Barrett, David Clayton, Alex Connell, Matt Glasby, Stan Henneman, Cheyenne Sun Hill, and Christopher Larson.

Many of the students were already good carvers and a few show promise of being great. However, even our new carver, Stan Henneman, was able to produce a beautiful Jade bowl under Deborah's guidance.

On the evening of the last day we celebrated this first ever workshop in style with a home cooked California abalone dinner. For me as one of the hosts I was proud to have been associated with this wonderful fraternity of people who set everything aside to teach and to learn how to work with this stone we all love. It comes to us with the richest history of any stone ever. It influences every culture that embraces it and history shows that it provides the artist that works with it the potential to impress generations with its beauty. I believe this workshop was a way of investing in these California carvers so that they would be the ones to create wonderful things for future generations to appreciate. This is the great hope of those of us who were involved in presenting this workshop. As each student goes out we wait with high expectations at what they will carve.

Mike Burkleo

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