A Canadian Gemstone Sculptor Creates the Most Beautiful Chinese Jade
“Lyle Sopel is more than a Jade Sculptor, he’s a Jade Whisperer, finding soft, natural shapes in a stone that is stronger than steel. This Vancouver artist is legendary and is considered to be the founder of this rare form of sculpture.
35 years ago, when Lyle began carving Jade, the green-coloured gemstone was new to Vancouver. Few sculptors knew how to carve it, let alone sculpt it into intricate pieces.
Lyle was an art student at the time, but as soon as he was introduced to Jade, he was enraptured by it and joined a Jade carving company. Because the medium was so new, he had to teach himself the necessary techniques to fashion art out of one of the hardest materials to carve. Often working 12 hours a day, Lyle was determined to master the art of jade sculpting, even inventing some of the tools he still uses today to make his fabulous, world-class sculptures.
It seems almost magical, the way he breathes life into the Jade. “For me,” says Lyle, “it’s still a stone, without the feeling and imagination behind it.” And imagination is what he infuses into each of his art pieces. Using nature as his inspiration, he lets intuition guide his design. As to why he often chooses to represent animals in his sculptures, his answer is elegant but simple, “animals and humans share the same spirit,” and to him, each sculpture has its own energy and feeling that he wishes to pass on to his collectors, which include heads of state, aristocrats and even royalty.
Jade has become a part of him, says Lyle, or perhaps Jade was always like him. What does that mean? You have to see Lyle at work to find out…”