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Mary Williams will tell you she has “a three-dimensional brain.”

While that may sound quite unusual to some it is a great advantage to the sculptor from Stuart Lake.

Williams was teaching a clay sculpting class at the Landmark Center in Henning recently and got her usual kick out of doing it.

The real fun for Mary was seeing how her class reacts to their own creative effort.

“They’re doing something they didn’t think they could do,” Williams said.

For three days Mary’s class worked with a female model in two different poses. The model was sitting in one pose and reclining in another.

In a tourist county like Otter Tail, where boats and jet skis, motorcycles, tubers, swimming, fishing and partying is typical summer fare, the art of sculpting offers pleasure of a very personal kind.

The “three-dimensional” aspect of Mary’s thinking has always come quite naturally to her.

“Geometry was one of my best subjects,” Mary said. “When I look at something I always walk around it.”

Sculptors have to keep turning their creation “so it looks right,” Mary said. Her clay sculpture class worked through “hollowing” their sculptures, a process by which the clay is removed from the inside. This allows the sculpture to dry faster.

“In a month, we’ll fire them in a kiln,” Mary said.

At the same time they are learning sculpting techniques, Mary felt like her class was learning to appreciate sculpturing more. 

Mary has had a lifetime to enjoy her sculpting and carving pursuits. She attended the Chicago Art Institute in her youth to become a silversmith but found that sculpting was really “her thing.”

Mary insists that rock carving is her main interest. She has some of her pieces at Art of the Lakes in Battle Lake and others at the Lake Region Arts Council.

She enjoys working with alabaster, a soft stone which has a pretty grain and many different colors. She also does a lot of work with limestone.

While clay is malleable, stone is not.

“You make a mistake and you start over,” Williams said bluntly.

Retirement has been no hardship for Williams. She has always enjoyed experimenting with different materials.

“This summer I am working with paper clay,” Williams said.

In her working years, Williams made a living as an interior decorator and designer. Her father insisted on her having a profession that would support her.

While she has lived all over the United States and traveled to foreign countries with her husband, retirement has suited the sculptor right down to the ground.

“It’s wonderful,” Mary laughed. “All of a sudden you’re so busy you haven’t got time to do anything.”

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