Inside a cozy, well-lit art studio, Bonnie Kamhi is spritzing a chalky-ooking boulder with a bottle of water.
With each droplet that hits the stone, a part of the dusty exterior is washed away and a bit of color revealed. Green, gold, blue and red — the flecks are the natural variations of alabaster. Each hunk of stone is different, its possibilities hidden behind an outer crust.
Kamhi, who is a partner and teacher at Cre8tive Sculpture Studio in Long Branch, is in the midst of shaping the rough hunk of rock into a graceful form where calla lilies seem to be grow right out of the stone. When she is finished shaping the piece she'll polish it to a shine and all its colors will be revealed.
Behind Kamhi on another work station is a taller, flatter chunk of stone under work by artist Raymond Klose, also a partner in the space. Both artists live in Ocean Township.
Whether it was because he was busy with work or because its inspiration wasn't yet clear, the stone sat for seven years on a shelf as a work seemingly not in progress. That is until recently when it hit him, kelp.
Now the rock is back on the work table with wavy lines drawn vertically, an outline of kelp fronds that Klose will carve into the subtly green-hued stone. The path this stone has taken is indicative of the way the three artists came together seven years ago to take over the studio from another artist and then fashioned it over time into a space that suited them.
Rumson artist Jim Fitzmaurice rounds out the trio of founding partners who remain from the original eight who moved on for various reasons.
"It teaches you patience," Fitzmaurice says of the art form.
The three met with Patch recently to show us around the studio in anticipation of the studio open house on Aug. 15, when the partners are inviting the public to come in and pick up a hammer and chisel and try their hand at chipping rock into a shape.
The open house is aimed take away the intimidation factor.
"It's not as hard as people think," she said. "It's not hard at all."
In fact, she says, "It's very relaxing. To be physical and zone in on something is truly relaxing."
This fall Kamhi and Fitzmaurice, both working artists, will teach beginner classes at the Broadway studio tucked behind Miller's Luncheonette and Homestead Pharmacy.
The goal of the class is to teach students how to use the tools properly and then let the students bring their inspirations to life.
"We try to find what the person wants to do and help them to get there," Fitzmaurice said. "We teach students how to make the process efficient. We keep them from making work for themselves."
The three artists will be on hand at the open house to demonstrate the various tools on their own works still unfinished.
Artists already experienced in sculpture can purchase a membership in Cre8tive. Membership at the studio costs $1,975 a year and includes 24/7 access to the studio and use of all the power tools.
The studio houses a commercial grade air filtration and dust collection system to cut down on the air borne dust that working with stone inevitably generates. The partners designed and built maze of pipes on the ceiling from which hoses hang down to work stations where artists can use hand tools like hammers and chisels and pneumatic tools. In the back is a custom wet sanding table where artists can begin to polish their stone to a finished product.
The three hour classes for beginners will be held on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m.(and possible Monday mornings). The cost for eight sessions is $360 and includes use of all the hand tools a stone about the size of a person's head. Classes will be open to 6-8 people.
Cre8tive Sculpture Studio will hold its open house Wednesday Aug. 15 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
For more information, call Bonnie Kahmi at 732-239-7809.