Not far away from Black Mountain was my parent’s remote cabin high in the hills of Rockies Mountains. I recalled one particular late autumn I was warm in my sleeping bag. Evening had long passed and the fire from an old pot belly stove, used to heat the small one room cabin, had nearly died. The final remnant of the warm fire was now just tiny pieces of blackened burnt wood. I could see from the slightly open grate the firewood was now just specks of glowing red embers. Outside the cabin the night sky is filled from bright distant stars. A high mountain wind blew the last remaining aspen leaves off of the few scraggly trees that have yet to go dormant in preparation for winter. The leaves are pushed high into the air then fall to rustle on the forest floor. The leaves scrambled and scraped across the roof of the tiny cabin.
I was awakened in the dark by the challenging screams that the bull elk were making. Their call echoed across Ptarmigan Peak, then down the valley to Black Mountain awaking anything within hearing distance. It seems that the clear night air has made their calls seem especially vocal, as if they are bugling next to the windows of the old cabin. One male would call, then as I listened closely I could just barely hear a response that seems to come from somewhere far below from where I lay. The elk’s voices resonated back and forth across the high mountain hills for what seemed like for hours. Finally exhaustion forced me to close my tired eyes as I could not stay awake any longer listing to the night challenges. I drift back into a slumber still hearing the calls and dream of the majestic bull elk.
I traveled up north, not too far from Fort Collins, Colorado, to obtain alabaster. I wanted to get the stones directly from the quarry. Looking around the yard I found a large number of pieces that seemed to fit the sculptures I had in mind to create. Acquiring the right stones was such a fun process and I felt giddy like a child in a candy store having so many pieces to choose from. The rocks I picked out weighed from 20 to 40 pounds. Now having the stones in my possession I could began to visualize my work coming to life. Once the pieces were cut to my specifications it was time to convert my thoughts that had been on my mind for so long into the stone.
Now, the “Bull Elk” could be brought to life. Alabaster is a compact form of gypsum and is white and pink in color. What I found intriguing is the, somewhat, translucent feature. Iron, copper and other minerals give the stone their exquisite colors which distinguish this unique stone. Each vein of alabaster has its own exceptional color and characteristics. I had seen rose colored Colorado alabaster sculpted and thought how beautiful the stone was and how I wanted to carve in it. As I carve out the “Bull Elk” into the stone I remembered back in time the place where a small hill lies between the base of Black Mountain and Ptarmigan Peak.