William Nettelhorst

It comes as a surprise that I am a sculptor.

It comes as a surprise that I am a sculptor. As a kid I played in the sand box a lot. Roads castles moats. Coloring with crayons was never within the lines. Then one day in the late 70’s, playing on the beach with my young children, something happened and I started to form sand into a woman’s body. Over the next 8 hours my first sand sculpture came into being. There she was full size woman laying face down on the sand. She was my wife sculpted in sand done mostly with my eyes closed. When my wife lay down next to my sculpture, it was 1/2″ of her body size. I was stunned and amazed. My hands were as if, somehow, electrical charges were passing through them. People were asking “Are you a sculptor?”

Now, 35 years later, I carve in stone and the ocean no longer takes my sculptures away. The transition from sand to stone seemed like an enormous challenge. I had to use my eyes. My hands could only telegraph through a hammer and chisel to stone. Once again I was stunned. My first stone sculpture from never picking up a hammer to finished, was done in 3 days. It was beautiful and moving. Not going to disappear tonight with the tide.

Stone sculpture, only using hand tools, is for me a deep connection to human ancestry. There is a kinship with Michelangelo and Rodin. When I visited their sculptures in Paris, I could see their chisel marks. Seeing them gave me a chill, an awe, a humbleness and a thrill. I’ve been to Ephesus and experienced the incredible volume of stone sculpture being unearthed there. Someday, maybe I’ll go to Egypt and drink in the ancient lineage of stone artistry there.

At the Rodin Museum in Paris, I saw his work, “The Hand of God.” I had a very difficult time leaving this piece. My creative energy was so electrified that when I found a sandbox, in the gardens in the back, I had to sculpt a sand lady. Rather presumptuous of me, perhaps, but I don’t think Rodin would mind. A sand box in the back right corner, apparently for little kids like me to play in. My way of saying thank you, giving the very best I have. Someday I hope to spend hours drinking in Michelangelo’s “David.”

I love the feminine form. The graceful sensual curves of a woman’s body. Magnificent and oh so stimulating. My eyes know when the form isn’t quite right. My hands, however, know what stone needs to be removed to be right. It could be as little as a 1/16th of an inch and then she is woman. There is an instant when the sculpture comes alive. After that moment it’s all finishing work. Just like life.