Sculptor's Nutcracker King is on display in downtown Seattle

Orcas Island sculptor Ellen Wherrette stands alongside her creation. - Contributed photo
Orcas Island sculptor Ellen Wherrette stands alongside her creation.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Orcas Island sculptor Ellen Wherrette has teamed up with Seattle master toolmaker Bob Washburn to create the nutcrackers for this year's Nutcracker March, which will be on display throughout downtown Seattle during the Christmas season. Her selection to undertake this project was enthusiastically received by the sponsor, the Seattle Downtown Association. It's an extraordinary honor for a local artist whose works have been described as whimsical. Several can be viewed at the Orcas Island Artworks.

Her sculpture in Seattle is being used in a benefit fundraiser for the Northwest Center, a charitable organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities reach their full potential.

The 50 decorated nutcrackers are available for purchase through an on-line auction at They are currently on display in prominent locations throughout downtown Seattle, including the main corner at Westlake Mall, inside a holiday tent. There is a map on the website which shows the location of each of the nutcrackers. It also provides an audio track of all the artists describing their designs. The track is intended to provide a guided tour as one follows the map from one nutcracker to the next.

The Nutcracker March was an enormous collaborative effort which started with Ellen rendering the full scale, five-foot tall Nutcracker King from a 200-pound block of high density foam. A mold was then made, and 50 fiberglass figures were produced by Washburn and his company, La Roque Mfg.

Ellen says, "The design for the Nutcracker King was inspired by a desire for a friendly shape with unusual proportions, such as a large head and little body. The body was rendered as simple geometric shapes to better serve as a blank canvas for the 50 artists to decorate." The fiberglass figures were then decorated by various artists and groups.

Ellen grew up on Mercer Island. Her mother was a professional potter, and clay was always available for her to use. She gradated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, then operated a small business sculpting prototypes for various companies, among them Warner Brothers, which used her prototypes for figures made out of chocolate.

Ellen makes her living sculpting, painting and teaching sculpting to people of all ages. She also accepts private commissions and has received numerous awards for her work. To learn more about Ellen, check out

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