Friday, December 30, 2005

Prepping A New Year...

This morning has been full of delicious frustration begun waking from dreams also described by that phrase, to see curious flotsam on the water while he brought me coffee... a tide full of logs decorated by juxtaposition of large orange floats which proved their appearance as markers for crab pots when a boat came to claim & reset them. The new moon tide has brought this curious visual which frustrates for not knowing the source for such chaos nor the story that is continuing to unfold on the screen of the window. It has been raining quiet storms all week. The gray is nearly a blinding loss of contrast now, the logs still floating off in the distance...

We've spent hours in bed with that pot of coffee sharing another delicious frustration with our dueling iBooks while continuing to discover this thing called blogging. My brother Jon recently shared an address which has blossomed an entire universe of postings around popular gay culture the likes of which we had no idea existed! These are not exactly web sites, although they share some aspects. They actually are blogs basically like this one of mine. Stephen has been working around notions of blogs inside his journalism projects for several years, so it is interesting that I am the one who decided to dive into my own before he has tackled one for himself.

This is another day intended by each of us to take more care of business less involved with this sort of sharing, but... more of delicious frustration! We know these days are rare & fleeting. We have the good sense to savor them in this sweet form of communion.

Now, however, I do not have the hours I'd intended to write a recap of my year for this posting... perhaps that will come tomorrow. I am committed to make pate from the too-big-for-the-cats package of chicken livers he's brought home. Perhaps we will take some to the dinner we are invited this evening.

Yesterday our trip into the city included more shopping than is usual for us before enjoying dinner at friends who live downtown close to the Market. I got more equipment for the digital camera which is currently my major new toy. So, we continue to enjoy our low key version of the holidays visiting with friends & playing happily together without the usual constraints of external scheduling.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tourmaline Fading...

Nesting at Soundcliff...

These recent mornings of incessant rain have been waking me early. I am obviously becoming rested inside the luxury of more sufficiency of “unstructured time” which I hold as my precious preference.

I suppose the rain becomes some deeper invitation to more generously grant myself permission to follow both an inclination to get up earlier than usual, as well as to stay abed if I wish, than I might if I were trying to protect myself from the more usual notion of a certain less interior imperative from clock & calendar.

I feel the need to continue trying to explain myself on this concept, butting heads with the Puritans, albeit with a growing bit of celebration, knowing it now meets with more of understanding & appreciation inside this house than when I first arrived with the desire to slide into a day rather than tackling it with the “Silha energetic”...

The gray of this morning has taken the description of “Totally Faded Tourmaline”. We continue the exercise Stephen has shared from his beginning days in the Northwest... creatively naming the myriad grays of our atmosphere.

I bring a jeweler’s vocabulary grounded in gems & metals to his softer abstractions. Weather is so ubiquitous & local as to be supposed a poor writing topic, yet it does so much to describe interior mood. He wrote haiku on the ferry. I’ve use it similarly to practice verbal descriptive techniques over my years keeping a journal.

I am beginning to find desire to go back into the studio it has been nice to abandon awhile during the holiday social time, even though it was also the scene of much social energy during this season of bell sales. There is the need to do the inventory & ready the books for closure. Once that business is settled, I can begin to indulge my artist’s needs.

Like the recuperation inside this “slugdom” since Solstice, the rhythms of my work wax & wane to quite literally wax again... now it is the carvable variety of that word I begin to crave, as has been my seasonal habit for years.

[I note my discovery in that sentence of the same letters forming those two words... crave to carve... carving such craving into new work.]

After the rushing holidays I can submerge into the quiet remaining winter nights to nurture & birth what has been gestating in the fertility of the year’s production & sales seasons. Observation of public responses & reactions during the Open Studio time, plus their suggestions for designs adding to the collection of my own curiosities nets fodder enough for three or four month’s research & absorption at the wax desk.

By now the still low & late sun has broken through to glaze wet surfaces with a weak but welcome warmth... still fading the tourmaline depths of the Sound. Tahoma has been invisible of late, taking her own rest, no doubt.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve...

The quiet light over the Sound at midday Christmas Eve feels right for the container Stephen & I are creating for the rare event of spending the holidays at home. There is little need in us for “all the trimmin’s” as might be considered “usual”. We will not have a tree...

We are happy to be spending time in that even rarer mode of being without the constraints long-standing plans & expectations. We mostly are following communicating about & following our momentary moods, rather more as we like to do when we travel, taking advantage of blissful ignorance inside the world of options which exists when one hasn’t booked every moment of one’s time months in advance.

I have for so long & often preached a life of that sort of spontaneity, but I live with a prime example of the other camp. This is perhaps the sweetest gift he could give me for this holiday!

We will soon go shop for last minute provisions toward our intimate evening’s meal of the oysters I suggested impulsively when he asked yesterday what I wished to eat. We also need some ingredients for the sorbet version of a Cumberland Sauce we are inventing to take for dinner tomorrow at our friends Merna & Rob.

We had a delightful day in the city yesterday, beginning with managing to get from the late-running ferry through all the traffic in the rain to arrive at the Harvard Exit Theater just barely in time for a matinee showing of “Brokeback Mountain”. The film left us stimulated & sad for its bittersweet story. We would easily recommend it for both inner & outer beauty plus a deep sensitivity. It will be quite interesting to watch how it is received in the audience of the larger world.

Then we went to the Pike Place Market for a dose of the festive shopping spirit before going to the foundry for a glass of wine with James. By then we were ready for the dinner we found at Shea’s lounge in the Market. Scallops for him, Ahi for me, sharing our plates as we like to do, even when the preparations range so divergently as they did from my near-sushi to his rich brown sauce. A good red wine & an amusing server brought us to full joy with our communion, remembering other dates in the Market. His Grappa took us to Tuscan memories & my cognac was for an old acquaintance. We came home for a sweet finale to our day with each other.

All this to get to my wishes & hopes that each & all might be enjoying this second deep evening of birthing...


Friday, December 23, 2005

Solstice Too...

This morning is Halcyon indeed!

The water is satin. Tahoma is showing herself, although perhaps not for long. Earlier all was a brilliant gold the color of monks robes from the east of dawn, but I went back under the comforter of my own religion with less appreciation than the sight warranted.

The sky scumble still offers fantasy fields of multiple rhythmic reflections inside subtle silken shadows on the palpable atmosphere, in a richness of greys if not that earlier color ... already I can perceive that the light is returning in this new year. Again I note the slippage of our paper calendar from reality. If our world is out of kilter, perhaps we need more properly to align ourselves with the origins of a sky god & an earth goddess who dance so definitively while we fuss with our rituals of ignorant imitation. The main event has happened while most of us are still in frantic preparation!

So be it... On with the show! We will participate to the extent we can find better versions of seasonal enjoyment without most of the frenzy. Today the plan is to go into the city to see a movie... probably Brokeback Mountain... before joinig a party at Outcast & Company, the bell’s foundry, & later to have dinner .


22 December 2005

The morning after Solstice is a bit like Boxing Day for its slight sense of letdown, except that there is another louder celebration yet to come...

This basic planetary event has slipped ahead on the calendar of that later celebration which overshadows it in our culture. While it is simple to prove & even to understand what is the primal event defining this season, that observation has been relegated to be a curious footnote in most people’s minds... now, why in the world would not Terra realize that the proper day to shift on its axis should be December 25th?!?! Our entire culture shifts in preparation of that!

If you don’t get the joke, you might be addicted to telling yourself other fibs...

So this gorgeously stormy light does not hold with the notion of one of those mythic days of quiet weather named after a seabird, believed to be the kingfisher, about which Pliny observed: "Halcyons are especially remarkable for this- the seas and those who sail them know the days when they breed at midwinter, on what are called "Halcyon days", during which the sea is calm and navigable, especially near Sicily. They make their nests a week before the shortest day, and lay a week after it.

The Kingfishers who live in our cliff could not trust what might be true about Sicilian mid-winters. Still we have had some recent days which temporarily demonstrated such mild qualities. Hopefully there will be more soon.

Today’s wind is roiling the water into white capped darkness, struck now & again with slashes of hard low light breaking through the clouds opened by its force. I’ve not seen our Kingfishers, But birds like the gulls & a lone hawk struggle to tack into it or soar with it at incredible speeds. Atmospheric colors shift almost as quickly. Tourmaline & aquamarine might be descriptive.

We celebrated yesterday’s shift toward any gardener’s delight at the promise of lengthening days by being quite lazy. The deep family of friends we with whom we usual circle to mark the earthy holy days was broken by other constraints & contingencies until later last evening when we simply made a nice dinner with our island-local god buddies.

We had noted the moment of the shift still abed with coffee, which is my favorite way to celebrate almost anything. A beach walk gave opportunity to cut some cedar boughs with which to do a little decorating. Neither of us is prone to ornamenting a tree, so we do not have much history with that Victorian tradition in the usual sense. It is rare for us to be at home for Christmas. We get to make this one up from scratch! We will keep it quite simple.

We see this as an opportunity to gift ouselves with visits with friends & to see a few movies... taking in some of the invitations to parties along the way.

Today I have several clients coming to shop in the studio. I’d made myself unavailable for that yesterday, no matter that one is our State Representative...

I will soon be content to let the biz slide toward a peace less populated, after all those who have recently so nicely energised my working space... which happily is back to being a bit messy again, of course,

There is now nought but to run the rapids of the hyper holidays... wheee!

Ho 'ding! Ho!

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Second Open Studio Weekend...

Another Monday morning posting does not mean I will be regular in such timing, but is instead a result simply of having worked again all weekend. While I have long loved a pattern of writing journal in bed with morning coffee, this blog version of that has no easy rhythm yet...

While I continue to fuss inside this format I can report that the second weekend of the Vashon Open Studio Tour matched the first in activity at GRB Bells. We make a bit of a party around this Island institution with a table of goodies. Morning sweeets segue into afternoon savories, thanks to Stephen's attentions. Wafting scent of cinnamon, cloves & ginger from a pot of hot spiced cider greets visitors before I am able to articulate my own verbal welcome. The tinkling bells' song from those hundreds of silver beings on the displays quickly brings folk along deeper into the celebration which we offer for those making the trek out to our home on the edge which we call Soundcliff, being both a description & a prayer.

The studio is one of many tucked away in corners of the Island not usually so publicly accessible. We suggest walking the short distance in on our narrow road since the situation for parking is a bit limited. It isn't much more of a hike than walking from the parking garage at any mall, but even on dull wet days we can offer expanding water views through the alders as one approaches our garden. If the day is clear, as they mostly were for this tour, our panorama might tease with fog or clouds before opening a peek toward more fulsome sunbreak vista including Tahoma [Mt. Ranier], inside the weather over Puget Sound.

The bells are a palpable expression of the joy usually more jingoed about in this season than JINGLED... they make their own music & dance a genuine jig! While working so closely with them all year, first in their silent waxy states, before the visually dull rough-casts begin to hint at resonance, I must hold faith in my intuition. I must use my imagination to find hints under their dirty surfaces at mid-polish toward a more finished complexion. All that before their vabious parts get strung, hung, wire-wrapped, & clappered together finally in forms which give them voice.

They truly ring intensely for me during that latter process, yet there is another sound I want...

I am most fully rewarded when their rhythm is rung by other hands, thus eliciting in addition the sounds of a rare delight as visitors discover their own relationship with this ancient archetype. My curious work is vindicated in a complex duet of tinkling sounds... human entrancement with something metallic.

Silly silver bells. Little toys. Ding-a-ling jewelry... miniature bits, perhaps, of poetic profundity in the physics of cast metal? Something alchemical happens... I feel this peculiar joy whenever a bell rings.

I take yet another sort of reward during these Open Studio days in the tidy ambiance of my freshly scrubbed studio. The sound system is quieted from its usual duty of masking the whine of flex-shaft & polishing motors. The recently installed track lighting showing off the results of all the previously less pristine processes for the bells displayed on wall panels, ready to sound off at the least touch... & a flow of visitors responding inside this magical space.

I hear the question frequently whether I ever get tired of the sound of the bells. No! That is a big part of my pay-package.

I have stopped fighting what could be made as a case for my own idiocy in a world gone similarly mad in quite other directions. If this niche I've spent nearly 25 years exploring is wasting my time, then so be it. Indulgence in joy becomes its own exponential reward.

If I were still struggling to share that joy it might be different, but each year I have become convinced again by the way they continue to find appreciative audience. They are it...


During that period some years ago, when they were being produced & marketed by others outside my studio, it was easier to listen to the down sides of more standard business notions which suggest this line of 200 designs is too much of too little. The economies of scale are delicate. I'm mostly happy that I'm a little man. A little sensitive guy. A little foolish & a little silly if I must be... which probably helps if one wants to do a business in bells. But, while I make little silver bells, I make a big bewildering range of them!

GRB Bells writes an ever surprising business on this small island. I am always amazed how many bells find homes here. Vashon might be similar, to this big bell tribe. All those choices allow lots of the essential variety for personal independence to celebrate, as befits living harmoniously on an island.

I could estimate numbers that we have already belled some 10% of our population, yet still we sold more bells at this event than ever before!

This year has continued to see the off-Island business growing as well, from the web site GRBBELLS.COM & in the several shops across the country who also help sell GRB Bells. Nancy Shaw & Company in Mystic, Connecticut, features the bells as ancillary to her selection of antique & estate jewelry, all year 'round, but with a special promotion during these holidays. Isadora in Sedona, Arizona, & Emily Benoist Ruffins Design in Taos, New Mexico, both have long been active purveyors for the line in the southwest. The latest venue to join our network is Fremont Jewelry Design here in Seattle.

Now this rare day of writing must shut itself down to accommodate a trip into the city. Life in the studio might wish for a well deserved break after accomplishing so much of preparation toward the fulfillment of other seasonal celebrations, but, this artist is married to other whirlwinds... we have appointments & parties, plus an exhibit to attend!

I love the other-reverence for this season from one of the list serves I receive:

"There are only three more shopping days before Beethoven's Birthday!"

Monday, December 05, 2005

Second Thoughts...

As I have spent the time to set up this format for the exploration into playing with a blog, I have had occasion to wonder the "why" of it.

My life is complicated enough without another method to write what used to be as simple as picking up my book & pen to write while having morning coffee in bed. [except for the difficulty of maintaining inky rapidographs!] I've written a journal inside bound blank books for 30 years... I have a trunk full of them. I also have written letters which I photocopied top mail to a list of family & friends. I have a bit of a reputation for sharing such musings in a particularly well developed calligraphy. But... after resisting for much longer than most I finally got a computer four years ago & I've taught myself to type with enough facility that I now enjoy using the keyboard... much to the detriment of my previous mode. I do not pick up that blank book nearly so frequently...

Thus I am curious about blogging as an experiment to facilitate the process with which I have several histories. Will it become a comfortable way to journal in a new way, or will it bog down in the digital complications which frequently irritate me? Will it continue to irritate me with the general lack of my prefered aesthetic preferences? There is so much of simplicity lacking on "pages" such as viewed on this machine. There are too many choices I would prefer to avoid for their attempt toward clarity inside what looks like a cacophany of fonts & design not remotely my own. Computer screens are full of predictable & mostly ugly substitutes for pen & paper. Still, this presents other possibilities as well... I will counsel patience for this period of testing these new waters.

So much of today has been about the nuts'n'bolts of setting up a format on which to begin. I've watched the day turn from occasional brightness on the more familiar waters of the Puget Sound as Sol tried pushing through the standard northwest overcast before what becomes near-dusk-at-noon in this season. Our exposure on this eastern side of the Island denies us much of the afternoon sun on even the best of summer days, but around winter solstice, when the low sun disappears behind the trees to the south, even before reaching those in the west, it only increases the effect of the shortness of the days at Soundcliff!

This was the first of two Holiday Open Studio weekends for which I have been preparing for months. The weather was dry & often even pleasent, so perhaps that helps explain the wonderful turnout. I was busy the entire time & wrote a record business. The bells continue to create joy & wonder for new clientele as well as many who have visited the studio for years... thus creating goodness for me in turn!

One part of that was an excuse to pursue this recurring impulse to "blog"...