Five Questions with Phebe Hemphill

By Brian J. Martin
August 3, 2016

Image of sculptor-engraver Phebe Hemphill
Sculptor-engraver Phebe Hemphill

Phebe is a sculptor-engraver at the United States Mint in Philadelphia. Her extraordinary sculptures have been exhibited by the National Sculpture Society, American Medallic Sculpture Association, West Chester University and the F.A.N. Gallery in Philadelphia. She is also a recipient of the Alex J. Ettel Grant from the National Sculpture Society and a Renaissance Sculpture Award from the Franklin Mint.

Watch an interview with her.

  1. What is your professional background?
    I am a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and I have worked previously for the Franklin Mint, McFarlane Toys, and as a freelance sculptor. I have been at the Mint now for 10 years.
  2. What do you like most about your job?
    I love the whole process, especially the challenge of making the design as dynamic as possible in low relief. It’s a great job.
  3. What is an interesting fact about yourself that most people don’t know?
    My distant relative and civil war hero Hector Tyndale accompanied the widow Mary Ann Day Brown to retrieve John Brown’s body after his death. Because of this connection, I was especially excited to work on the Harpers Ferry coin.
  4. What were the biggest challenges for you in sculpting the 2016 America the Beautiful quarters?
    For Harpers Ferry, it was the architecture and for Teddy Roosevelt it was the depiction of a distant landscape in low relief.
  5. How do you approach the sculpting-engraving process?
    I pretty much do the sculpting process as it was done a hundred years ago in the medium of clay and plaster. I also use digital sculpting software in stages of the process, so it’s a combination of all the tools we have.

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