Category: New Work


The Family Story Totem was also cast in bronze for a limited edition series offered by Blue Rain Gallery.

After the pole was done with its first casting in California, it was shipped down to Prescott Valley, Arizona, for another casting by the Bronzesmith Foundry. 

Their casting and first bronze version was completed in time for the SWAIA Indian Market last week, where the bronze was debuted at Blue Rain Gallery of Santa Fe.

A limited run of full-scale monumental bronzes are available for sale exclusively through Blue Rain Gallery and Stonington Gallery.

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Photos of the investment casting process.

Here are some photos of the investment casting process, performed this spring by carver David Svenson and his colleague, Rhys Williams.



A positive plaster version of the pole was made so that our friends at FireArt Glass in Portland could take molds from its three parts.  They are working on making the molds and experimenting with the kiln-casting process.

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Carving the Family Story Totem.

Master carver David Svenson began work on the wood totem in early Spring, 2009.  Here are some images of his process and the magnificent finished piece. 

The log arriving at David's studio.

First sketch on the pole based on Preston's tiny drawing.

A power bird spirit approving the design.


In May 2010, the pole was finished….Preston went to California to visit and get started on the casting process, to be discussed in a future post.


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It is our pleasure to present a monumental project, nearly 3 years in the making to date: a 7 foot tall 3-dimensional totem.

It is our pleasure to present a monumental project, nearly 3 years in the making to date: a 7 foot tall 3-dimensional totem.

The project began in early 2009 when Preston and his longtime friend and collaborator, woodcarver David Svenson, co-designed a full-scale totem depicting a beloved family story about Preston’s great-grandmother as a child.

Preston's Great-Grandparents, Susie and Dionesio Gubatayao

They went out into the woods those uncles.  They were out gathering food.  That’s when they came across a bear out there in the woods.  They shot that bear, but what they didn’t know was that it was a mother bear that came in between the uncles and the cubs.  That is what happened.

They shot that bear and then they saw the cubs.  They took those cubs back to the village Douglas.  That is what they called it at that time.  That is where my great grandmother lived.  She was called Susie Johnson.  She lived there at that time.  She was a young girl then.  She was young.

She liked that bear cub that they uncles brought there.  She wanted that bear cub as her pet.  Her parents wanted her to be happy so they let her keep that bear cub at home.  She kept it at home and raised it like one might have a dog.  My great grandmother, Susie, loved that bear!  What a thing to have a grizzly bear for a pet!  She would get food for that hear and feed it, and take care of it.  She made a bed for that bear and it lived there with the family.

There was a woman who was Russian.  There were a lot of Russians there.  She made taffy and would sell it in the streets.  When she sold it in the streets, the bear would smell the taffy.  That bear loved the taffy that it would get from my great grandmother.

Every time that Russian woman would go through the street with that taffy, the bear would smell it.  After a while she wanted to get that bear some more taffy, so she went to get some berries from the fields at the base of the mountains.  She took those berries back to the village.  She had those berries that she sold for money to buy taffy.  That’s how she got taffy for that bear.

After a while that bear got big.  Too big to keep around the house.  The bear was getting too dangerous and big to keep.  So her uncles took it back to the woods.  They left that bear in the woods so it wouldn’t hurt anyone in the village.  She cried when they took that bear away.  She cried, but after a while she knew why the uncles took that bear away.  Because it was getting too big.  Even after it was gone, she cried sometimes.  My great grandmother loved that bear.  – Preston Singletary, 2001

Family Story Totem, 2004


Preston found inspiration from this story and produced a small table-top scale glass totem depicting it in 1998. He has revisited the form several times over the years, but this project will be the definitive physical embodiment of the tale. 

From early 2009 to earlier this year, Svenson carved the design into a large log of red cedar.  Molds were then taken of the carving to produce a plaster version for further casting.  The totem exists now in its original wooden form, here in the Seattle studio, and as a monumental bronze – just produced by Bronzesmith Fine Art Foundry for the outdoor sculpture market, available through Blue Rain Gallery.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll unveil photos of the carving and casting processes, as well as images of the finished wood and bronze totems.  This will all lead up to the goal of the project: a full-scale solid cast glass version, the prototype of which is currently being tested by master caster Ray Ahlgren at Fireart Glass in Portland, Oregon.

Stay tuned for more!

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RAVEN AND THE BOX OF KNOWLEDGE: Preston Singletary for Pendleton

Preston Singletary was commissioned to create the 2011 American Indian College Fund Blanket for Pendleton Woolen Mills.

In March of this year, Pendleton Woolen Mills unveiled their newest blanket in their American Indian College Fund Series.  Raven and the Box of Knowlege was designed by Preston Singletary.

From Pendleton’s website:  ”This intriguing blanket is based on a work by internationally renowned glass artist Preston Singletary. Mr. Singletary grew up in the Pacific Northwest – both of his great-grandparents were full-blooded Tlingit Indians. His works explore traditional images and legends of his Tlingit heritage translated into glass. The image on this blanket represents Raven, a shape shifter and trickster who often employed crafty schemes to achieve his goals. In the story, the old chief who lived at the head of the Nass River kept his precious treasures – the sun, the moon and the stars – in beautifully carved boxes. Raven steals the light, and making his escape carries the sun in his mouth. The sun is a metaphor for enlightenment or knowledge. The ombred background shades meet in the center in vibrant colors of sun and light. Mr. Singletary’s artworks are included in museum collections from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC to the Handelsbanken in Stockholm, Sweden. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Seattle Art Museum. A portion of the proceeds from this blanket will be donated to the American Indian College Fund to help support tribal colleges. Unnapped. Felt-bound. 82% pure virgin wool/18% cotton. Dry clean. Made in the USA. 64 x 80 inches.”

Click here to order one for yourself!

American Indian College Fund
The American Indian College Fund raises money for 32 tribal colleges that serve 30,000 students representing 250 native tribes. The fund disburses approximately 5,000 scholarships annually for American Indian students seeking to better their lives through continued education. The tribal colleges play a vital role in the futures of Native American people, our country and, ultimately, people everywhere. For over 100 years, Pendleton Woolen Mills has maintained a mutual respect for our original customers, Native Americans. That is one of the many reasons we are pleased to support this important philanthropic partnership. When you purchase any blanket from our American Indian College Fund Collection, a portion of the proceeds goes to help tribal colleges throughout the country. To find out more about the American Indian College Fund, call 1-800-776-3863, or visit

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