♥ Meet Sculptors Allen & Patty Eckman

You are about to meet a couple who have spent their lives enjoying each other's company not only through marriage, but as artists who work in the same medium with the same passion for sculpture, and... paper. That's right, I said paper. Oh, and, I'm not talking papier mache' here either! I guarantee that by the time you finish this interview, and study the excellent crystal clear images they have provided, you will come away totally awe inspired by a medium that on the outset seemed so simple.

Allen and Patty, each in their own right gifted fine artists, through talent, study and practice, have turned the art of working with paper into an intensely intricate new medium. I'm certain you'll enjoy getting to know them and their works! ~ angee

"Prairie Edge Hunt" Fourth in the series of 90" x 60" x 20" relief original
museum quality cast paper sculptures by Allen and Patty Eckman


The combined biographies of artists Allen and Patty Eckman

and their unique medium.

Photo of Patty and Allen taken at the Booth
Western Art Museum, Cartersville, GA
10-02-09 The Eckman's work is on permanent
display at the Booth.
Allen Eckman was born in South Gate, California in 1946. At age 5 to 15 his family, parents, 3 brothers and two sisters lived on a small farm in Pennsylvania. They returned to California and after graduating from 1000 Oaks High School in 1965, Allen enlisted in the Marine Corps. Four years later a Sgt. E-5 and decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War Allen studied art. His formal education was completed at Art Center College of Design in advertising art in 1974.
He is married to Patty Tenneboe Eckman, the two met studying art in college. Patty Tenneboe-Eckman was born in Brookings, South Dakota in 1950. She grew up in Rapid City and in 1965 her family, parents, 2 brothers and sister moved to the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. Her formal education was completed at Art Center College of Design in L.A. with a major in illustration, in 1974. After college the couple got married and operated a small advertising company in the LA area while raising three children.
12 years later Allen and Patty decided they had had enough of the stressful life of advertising artists in Southern California. In 1988 the couple set out on a whole new career path which opened up an exciting and different world for both of them, the fine art of cast paper sculpture. Allen had discovered the medium as an art director photographing a brochure and instantly recognized the purity, warmth, and most of all, the possibilities this medium had to offer.

"Wife and Son of White Bull"

Allen has a great interest in the Native American Indian partly because his great-great grandmother was a Cherokee. "I really am interested in the Indian's material, physical and spiritual culture and that whole period of our nation's history I find fascinating. From the western expansion, through the Civil War and beyond is of great interest to me." Eckman has expanded his work through all these subjects. Patty has a great interest in wildlife, birds and flowers in particular. "Ever since I was a child I have had a great appreciation of wildlife. I can sit for hours and watch the birds come to my feeder. When I look at a flower I don't see just color, I see form. Wonderful shapes that the color tries to overpower." Patty also has interests in the Native American culture and since the year 2000 has been sculpting beautiful Indian women and children. On large complicated and detailed works the couple often work together and both sign the piece when completed.

"Indian Horse Roper"
The Eckmans now reside in Rapid City, South Dakota. Their home and studio is in the beautiful Black Hills. There, the couple finds inspiration everywhere. The wildlife, the history, the climate and the spirituality of their lives provide Patty and Allen with an enormous amount of creativity.

"Pronghorn Warrior in the Wind"
~The medium you work in, cast paper sculpture, is a very intriguing and little known medium. Tell us about the processes you use to make these intricately detailed pieces?

Allen: Cast paper sculpture has been around since the 1950's but should not be confused with papier-mache'. The two mediums are completely different. We first mix an acid free paper pulp in the studio hydro-pulper from two raw stocks, cotton and abica. Then the pulp is cast into molds which were made from original clay sculptures. The paper is then pressed under vacuum pressure or by hand in the mold where most of the water is extracted at the same time. The drying process is completed by evaporation while the paper is still in the mold. After the dry and hard casts are removed from the molds the exclusive process of chasing, cast additions, cast alterations, sculpting in paper and detailing begins. The paper that is made for detailing work is produced thick and thin, hard and soft according to the different specifications. It takes a great amount of time and experience to create each piece. Some works are so painstakingly detailed they can take many months to complete. The cast paper process is similar to the cast bronze method in many ways. Of course, the finished product is white, light weight and can have an enormous amount of detail because of it's properties and our inventiveness. "We have really enjoyed the development of our fine art techniques over the years and have created a process that is worth sharing. There are many artists and sculptors who we believe will enjoy this medium as much as we have."

"Eagle Hoop Dancer"
We are the inventors of this process and the Eckman Method® of Cast Paper Sculpture is a trade mark of ours alone. Since 1988 Patty and I have developed and perfected the medium of cast paper far beyond any other artists in the world. Our work is considered to be the premier of the industry by many critics. Since the paper is acid free the sculptures are all museum quality.
"Little Fancy Dancer"

~When did you discover your creative gift for sculpting paper this way?
Allen: We didn't know we had talent in this area until we first tried it in 1987.

"Taking the Bull with the Bow"

~Once you discovered your talent in this area, then how long did it take to develop your intricate and extremely detailed style?
Allen: We discovered most of what we know in the first 5 years. The secrets in this medium we are still unlocking is mostly in how the paper is made. A lot of artists think they can make paper and do what we do. We have not only made the paper formula over a period of years but have invented equipment to do that. We developed pulping equipment and methods, presses, drying methods, casting techniques, molding and many many more innovations that would be nearly impossible to figure out. It has been 23 years and we are still learning.

"Shawl Dancer"
~What inspires your sculpted pieces and where do your ideas come from?

Allen: We are inspired by history and I have more ideas than time.

"A Way of Life"
~What techniques and materials do you use to create these stunning sculptures?
Allen: We create most of the materials and techniques.  It is our paper and our techniques and we are the pioneers of our process.

"Saved From the Flood"
~Can you give us a helpful tip of something you use to fuel your creativity?
Allen: Stay challenged. Don't be afraid to do something different, unique. Never give up and don't get discouraged. Keep striving for excellence and above all try new techniques. Do what has never been done before in the medium to keep it evolving.
"Fancy Dancer of the Northern Plains"
 ~Do you have any special sculpture secrets you'd be willing to share with us?

I want to share it all. I want to teach artists everything I know for each artist to reach his or her God given ability. We are developing "Project Lessons™" to do this. We have a registered trademark on file at the USPTO called Eckman Method® which include sculpture materials (casts, paper, and bonding agent) tools and instruction on DVD and print. We have 3 programs in development.
" Mother's Legacy"

1."Patty's Flowers" - is one that will take an artist from beginning level to intermediate to advanced and beyond to expert and master levels; as far as the God given ability of the artist will allow. This is a progressive program that artists can learn with our casts and our paper to do flowers, birds, animals figures and backgrounds. We will also teach mold making, framing and how to photograph and market their pieces.
2. "Eckman Method®" - is for advanced artists who want to jump in and do challenging pieces while they learn with the Eckman Method®. We provide "Starter Casts™" of figures and animals with DVD instructions and kits in "Project Lessons™" form with tools. Or, they can just buy a "Starter Cast™" and paper to create on their own after some prior instruction.
3."Your Molds and the Eckman Method®" - is for advanced artists who want to use their own molds for bronze, ceramic, resin, etc. and complete their pieces in museum quality cast paper sculpture with more detail. The artists will be instructed with a DVD watching me use one of my bronze molds to recreate the piece in paper with more detail. We show them how to cast in our pulp and use our paper and bonding agent.
These programs will all be on sale in our online store http://www.eckmanfineart.com/
"Little Bear Dancing II"

~Please give us a piece of advice you've uncovered on your artistic journey that would be an encouragement to those who want to pursue their creative talents or a career in art?
Allen: Don't believe what you hear people say if in your gut you believe different. In college my professors all said, "Don't pursue a career in fine art because you can't make a living." So we tried an advertising career for 12 years and ended up moving on to fine art. When I found cast paper I talked to people about how I wanted to do what I saw in "my minds eye" which is what we are doing now not just a single cast of cotton linters in a shallow mold. They said it couldn't be done. I thought different and within a year they were no longer the experts.

~Bragging rights:
What was the most impressive or important honor your talent has brought you?

We have won many awards, gold metals and blue ribbons and even best of show. We have had numerous articles written and our work published in books. We have our work in museums including the exclusive Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA and Ripley's Believe it or Not. Many celebrities and corporations collect our pieces. But above all the thing I value the most is a simple quote from an anonymous admirer written in an obscure gallery book many years ago which read, quote, "They said there is nothing new under the sun... they were wrong."


Thank you so very much Allen and Patty, for going the extra mile to include the gorgeous crystal clear photos of your pieces and taking the time to provide the interview questions filled with such fascinating information. I'm sure everyone enjoyed getting to know you.  I have now become an even greater fan of your awesome work.

Contact Patty and Allen Eckman
D.B.A. Eckman Fine Art, Inc.
222 Timberline Ct. - Rapid City, South Dakota 57702
605.343.4252 ~ Website: www.eckmanfineart.com
Email: allen@eckmanfineart.com ~ patty@eckmanfineart.com
"The Battling Bulls of the Rockies"


  1. All I can say is WOW. Amazing, beautiful, stunning work. So different too. Thanks for sharing them Angee!

  2. this is simply breathtaking!

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