Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Late in the summer months I made a small collection of photographs of animals in the garden.

I do so savor the frog song that I tracked it once to take this peek into the Passifloria climbing the forward corner of the studio level of the house.

We sing our passion rather more reflectively
in this approaching winter solstice...

I never did get any spiders in the webs I used to teach myself better the subtleties of focus...

But I was blessed to watch one of those proverbially determined ants... in a teacup. Make of all that what you will.

However... my voyeur's prize was to discover this couple of slugs, seriously frolicking right out in the open... near that same PASSIFLORIA corner... hmm...

I ponder the issue of all that fecundity
in this season as I slip in the cold &
slide in the wet... working
to celebrate
complexities in the deep turnings
of this seasonal procession.

Monday, December 11, 2006


One year ago I began my adventure with this blog... with Second Thoughts. By now I have passed through third thoughts & dozens more versions of such thinking, with the result that I am generally satisfied... even if my pace is rather more stately than even I intended with the sugestion of "Periodic Musings"... I do wish to increase my frequency... just to more regularly do the practice of writing while developing more technical skill at posting images.

I like this image, made by a friend last Saturday. Peter Serko caught me in inside the glow of Kip's [Kevin Perry] painting called Cypress Dancing with which I love living in the studio...

One week ago I wrote a bit of a story after my first weekend of our Vashon Island's Holiday Open Studio Tour which I've decided to post after all. This is the photograph I used for the brochure we publish. There is a web site as well... http://vashonislandartstudiotour.com/

I am sitting in a pool of stories from this weekend's Open Studio...

These are times of particularly intense resolution... Months of planning & work involving cash chunks of investment. All ultimately proving belief even as I resisted... I can relax once again into & atop the energie of the bells.

Out from the snow cold & gloom of the early days of our week, we woke to a glorious Saturday... a mellow mist giving way to crisp sun bright punctuated by a regatta of lively colored sails gliding through toward our clear view of the mountain... Folk came out in droves... giddy with a dose of such clemency.

One couple with a camera asked if they could go up, above the fencing bamboo, onto our deck in order to make better shots of the sight, so I grabbed my camera & joined the opportunity, even as it was a bit the tail end of the parade. Next day I heard a woman shopper in the studio tell that she had been in one of those boats & that this is an annual event. as I remember from previous years & now will anticipate such visuals as part of the traditional program... sales & sails...

I get to take a particular reading on the Island's pulsing right here in the Hold through my studio's filter during these weekends when the bells take leading roles in an opera of private proportions while dancing a jingle/jangle inside the flood of all sorts of folk. It was confusing enough with 10 or 12 people ringing along the sample line to become occasionally necessary to invite them to take their potential choices of bells outside to find a spot quiet enough to compare.

Stories come 'round through the shared history which the bells have been busily interweaving all these years. I am now promised a good one from a long time client who was here giving her two young sons the opportunity to pick their own bells for their Christmas gifts. She says it requires a time we can sit over a cup of tea together. I'll look forward! Another involved a bell remarkably found when its loss would have been devastating. Of course the story sometimes involves poignant loss being replaced. There is the notion I try to share even as I learn it, that the bells are about their own business, in their often mysterious ways... just as they came into ours. I appreciate how the bells dance as parts of people's emotional lives.

The range in these tales must include the client who bought a collection of bells for the collars of her [five?] dogs! She explains that she has done it for years enough now to treasure several as reminders after the pet has gone, evoking a soundtrack to her memories.

Often enough I make some quick friends through the bells during these days of intensity in opening my working space. I've long come to trust the bells' integrity & thus can allow myself to believe there is no draw for any but that matching their finer energies in response. That has 'most always proved the case, I certainly prefer to work my business with that mindset than to try to "protect" myself with any illusion of the possibility of that. Much of the value with which I work is as transitory as bell tinkle. So it was with much curiosity that I discovered a missing bell.

Ordinarily, such a disappearance might go unnoticed until some rather future search or inventory, but we had a gay friend to whom we wanted to show the PETER Bell later in the afternoon. Both Stephen & I could remember seeing it in on the display earlier in the day. Upon completion of a third searching pass over the display I had to admit it had been lifted. While I've long understood this occasionally to happen, I rarely have been so present to the timing of such occurrence.

I have long protected myself by stating that if someone wants a bell so badly as to steal it, I can quite easily release it with the assurance that the bells are good teachers for those who need such lessons. I did not concern myself so much with the loss.. Still, I wondered the who.

That particular bell... an ever-so-mildly erotic rendition of male pudenda which can sorta pass as a polar bear... I sometimes wonder whether or not to retain it in the openly displayed line. Occasionally it will be dropped with a grimace, but mostly it meets with smiles & amusement. There is now & again the tinkling pun... I was thus particularly curious who... of all the folk with whom I had so recently interacted... was needy for that bell?

I would not believe it could be the young man with pretty eyes under a tight crown of hat knit to his brow, who seemed to see with such intensity while looking so intently as he did at my work... to whom I was drawn to explain as he left that I felt particularly complimented by a generosity of his attention. I might have wished he liked that design... but no.

Or was it one of those several who'd left with seeming abruptness? We pondered even as we know that folk might simply have discovered they weren't really interested in bells. Or that they'd need to leave just then in order to catch the ferry... ample possible explanations... but then...WHO?

We have for several years gone to the Vashon Island Chorale's Holiday Concert, which concures with one of the Open Studio's Sunday evenings, & which venue is Saint John Vianney, not so far away. The concerts become a useful anodyne to the day's immersion in studio commerce. There were few parking spots so I got out near the church to go ahead to purchase our tickets & find seats.

Along the way I greeted a young, attractive, stylish & vivacious client who'd bought a bell that afternoon... she helped at the door as I unexpectedly took possession of an elderly woman in a wheelchair whose driver had needed to double-park in order to deliver her. I offered to help get her in & to situate her as closely as possible because she was "hard of hearing" while he did with the car... & thus was involved with also buying her ticket... Three, three, Blessed Be!

But... I pulled her back up a few rows, away from the tympani, when I realized to much bass booming might mar her aural enjoyment on what must have been a rare occasion out...

This concert typically offers a bit of sweet calming after the bustling energy of the sale. The quality of the music is reliably quite fine. This year presented John Rutter's Mass of the Children, with a section of enthusiastic youngsters along with a more than capable couple of soloists who have moved from New York & the Metropolitan Opera to raise their family here.

During the intermission between that performance & the program's finish with some half dozen arrangements of rare new songs & traditional carols, the bell client came to join me unexpectedly on the empty seat next over. She explained that she had something for me & reaching into her pocket withdrew a bell on a plumb colored cord. It was not the bell she'd purchased that afternoon.

"I've have had a problem recently with kleptomania," she whispered...

"I like dick & balls too".

I received the bell & held it in hand during the apology of her confession about needing help. A few seconds passed, before folding the potent bauble back into her hand, I put my arm around her shoulder. I believe I made some words about the bells being good teachers while I pondered deeper acknowledgment of my fascination & secret satisfaction to have, so immediately, such an unexpected answer to my curiosity, all inside the close confines of this sanctuary's congregation.

I cannot & will not ignore a certain resonance with the phallic display we saw in the "Secret Rooms" of the Archaeological Museum in Naples, collected centuries ago by a Cardinal of the same Roman Church. I well appreciate the rarity these days of such votive objects.

Would that it were only so simple... I would gladly gift the lonely world frequently ringing satisfaction!

Even if it works only once in awhile, I can grin.

While I raised this glass at a wedding last May, I share this year's favorite image of me in a toast to this anniversry. I may be slow, but I'm hooked...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Autumnal Viewpoints Through Colorful Boxes...

I've gloried in our recent "Indian Summer"... even these too-short sunny days held unexpected joy! This view out a window over the studio's sink caught my camera's eye for the vibration between the trim color & that of the asters blooming beyond.

I've worked some of this great time outdoors in a different vein from my usual studio work... 'obsessing for the last several weeks on a project which has had a long gestation & yet still required much deep concentration of mind & physical wrangling to bring into fruition.

It is a lighted wooden box containing two double shafted polishing motors, one mounted above the other, with a vacuum system to collect their dust. My theory is that the four grits of silicon brush wheels which we use to do much of the finishing on the bell castings would be thus organized so as to allow the process to become almost yoga-like, taking each piece through the sequence, from coarse to fine, without interruption, while reaching gently into the four quadrants of this configuration. Able to go immediately back & forth, bringing up the surface in a more real time way than how we have often worked this part of production: bringing multiple pieces up to each stage before proceeding to the next... & thus handling each piece multiple times.

Another finisher who works with the bells has designed a system mounting those four wheels on a horizontal axis, accomplishing much the same thing, but requiring one to move or stretch along a fair amount of dedicated bench space. My design saves that precious space in my studio & hopefully will do it more ergonomically.

At this stage it was finished enough I could begin painting it with a primer coat... nice enough color... industrial, although a bit lavender, but I'd dreamed something else...

My father was quite a do-it-yourself type so I grew up with a fair amount of observational capability with basic tools. I built my own, sometimes rather complicated canvas stretchers for paintings while I was in college, I've done much decorating & remodeling on numerous homes & studios over the years. Each of my many studios [& I can count at least 15...] has required creative construction at various scales, from moving walls to building cabinets. I've worked in spaces so generous as to become ball rooms & I have lived & worked in as little as 600 square feet. Each studio became by definition a very physical expression of how I lived & worked... who I was at the time.

Most of these working spaces acquired an identifying name & looking at the list I realize there is so much of my story in them... UP WILLOW was my longest situated studio, for a dozen mostly happy years under a big weeping willow tree which named the street in West Sedona, & The AERIE overlooked my last grand view of those Red Rocks. The BOTHY was barn-like on a rural property called Avalon in Sonoma County. The CABINET & The MEWS were both quite contrastingly urban in the Fischer Studio Building, downtown Seattle. Now I call my Island studio The HOLD, for being anchored in the foundations of our home, which Stephen has named Soundcliff as both a description & a prayer.

Over these decades I've evolved-by-testing my basic collection of sturdily eclectic & somewhat modular furniture which allows me to fit what's necessary & familiar to 'most any new space. I have developed a certain capable adroitness suiting my languorous peregrination. I have proved & improved my systems along the way. Each studio has needed to suit how I was working during its period: the smallest was only a wax design space for when I first moved to Seattle... having the foundry nearby for all the other processes. The current one wishes to be able to tackle most varieties of creative & production work except casting. It anticipates the possibility of doing more teaching as well as to facilitate work I've long dreamed, but postponed. Of late I have had to accept that each studio just might be the last... yet, I still anticipate designing a portable studio system, so I can work any place in the world as we travel!

"It never takes too long to do it right the second time," I remember Uncle Vernon, Poppa's twin brother saying. While I was growing up on the farm his shop always seemed so enticingly organized. My father always worked with a bit more of daring do. I found myself needing to use both forms during this recent project. Having only minimal tools for such construction I cobbled my design carefully in each moment of progression, holding the dream in my mind even as I spent days doing by hand-fitting what a more capable shop might have accomplished in hours... IF I could have legibly drawn it all up as a finished plan well ahead of time!

My method toward doing it right the first time required a certain dialogue between the actual parts: my wooden pieces against the polishing motors, like Montessori Blocks assisting to wrap my brain around designing an acceptable form holding all the guts of function inside that final skin of unexpected color.

Beside the spinning wheels & their control switches I needed to mount lighting & there was much which needed attention as to flow... that yogic flow of potential process... & air flow as well... collecting the dust residual to any polishing process.

I thus spent another hunk of time noodling with PVC pipe & fittings in the space backside to facilitate connection into a vacuum system. This piece is a very physical enclosure for much more which is quite ephemeral. It became thus a piece of sculpture along the way. I am only now, at the end, able to begin testing my theory with this as a tool. I've needed to make adjustments, adding a baffle to better control the fair breeze created by the wheels themselves, which is almost livelier than the vacuum!

So I have added new color & form -- plus some weight! -- to that furniture collection. While its construction may not have been exactly efficient, I believe its functioning will reward me! I'm pleased with myself & am ready to test it... I have some bells to polish!

After one last detail showing how the box hugs the motor, I timidly share some beginnings to learn how to manually focus in my camera. All this first year I have been using the automatiic focus mode because there were simply too many other things to learn & to practice! But the spider webs this season are big glorious constructions all through the house, studio & garden. While in certain light they have caught my eye, most times instead they catch my entire face as I walk blythefully ignorant of their presense until I'm wearing remnants of their distruction!

But the auto focus mode does not see their micro threads either, of course, so my desire to capture them requires me to accept a long invitation to practice manually focusing on them.

While I still find a good deal of frustration trying to look through a pixilated viewfinder I have begun to be able to grab some shots which would elude & frustrate me even more before this experimentation.

Further lessons will be necessary as to flash lighting & this is a curious shot of the recent full moon rising above our palm tree beyond blousey garden beds. Note the bell hanging from the bean trellis...


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Late Season Early Morning... FIRE!

Last wednesday we were awakened at 4:30 am by a call from our friend & neighbor, Taylor, informing us that the cabin below him on the beach, some 600' north of us, was on fire.

I had just gotten to bed an hour before, so I woke more reluctantly than Stephen... who was off before I could get my teeth in. I had some moments to consider what I would bring... rather like Taylor's story later, about how he had pondered the meaning of home as he left his house in those first moments after he woke to the glow of the blaze. I grabbed my camera, a flashlight & small backpack... in case he needed help moving out, I rationalized.

The fire was an old beach cabin... built in the twenties... a rare classic character. Fortunately no one was home. The owner lives in Seattle & has been coming out for summer weekends here since both of us were youngsters. Although my family in Kansas had no beach house I am curiously reminded here of stories Poppa told about Hemstrom's Pond, a local swimming resort rumored speakeasy in his own youth, a mile north of our farm... In my memory 50 years ago, it seems of a similar vintage... old wood bleached dry, much like what was burning so intensely here.

Landmarks gone... how will we find our way?

Late as I arrived, I did still manage to capture the climax of smoke & steam in lurid heat & light. Would that I were better skilled to have grabbed more of the drama in which tragedy rewarded me moments of photographic luck.

Watching from the beach we could see the corner of Taylor's deck glowing numerous times toward new flame... to be hosed-out time & again. We feared it would catch & spread, taking his home as well.

Our local fire department had arrived promptly & I was trying to visually capture the streams of water from their hoses, accomplished by deft arrangement of a smaller truck driven down our steep narrow road, with connecting hoses running from the larger support equipment left parked up on Dilworth Loop Road, which is two lanes... paved. There is also a fire hydrant not so much farther north.

The flames had by good fortune attracted a tugboat who's usual job would be to escort large boats plying the shipping lanes which are our front yard. I remember it was there waiting... 'close to shore as the tide would allow... when I first began to focus on the scene through my viewfinder. Just as those hoses seemed to run out of water we heard orders from the firemen to "move away up the beach"

Communications between the tug & the fire captain had been established. I saw water drops on my lenses before we could stop to gaze in wonder at the intense spasms of water being pumped seemingly through the miraculous beam of the boat's spotlight.

The story devolves into a mystery of steaming ashes surrounding fallen chimney bricks in the smokey light of dawn. A smoldering tree needed to be felled, adding to the sad mess. In one of those flukes I see now that the outhouse somehow survived its close proximity to the same heat that threatened Taylor's far more distant house. Blessedly no one was injured. Some later problems with appliances around the neighborhood resulted from pressure fluctuations caused by tapping that hydrant... but nothing so serious as we conjured in earlier fearful imagination.

It is now I might feel I ought to wax profound about life's temporal qualities, but instead I will offer another image of the charcoal maple leaves I later found had floated to our lawn.

fragility lifting tough
into moments of desiccated adversity...
soaring unexpected birth.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


The Leonine lazies have been rather busier than I would have not planned...

Although, now that my July birthdays are passed, I am left to enjoy a bit the afterglow in a season I long have noted as a favorite for its lengths of sere heat inviting one to draw into meditations on dancing with restorative torpor.

I did not mark turning 61 with any particular importance. Still, I love noting how much has accrued during my history of celebrating these depths of summer. Impressions of early fertile afternoons contrast a seven-year-old's mud bath after a thunderstorm with creatively serious play of my youth in the sandpile off the more usually dusty Kansas farmyard resurface curiously in sweaty nights some sensuous years later.

Summers of the sixties in the city... Denver dancing all night. Another significant mud bath. Turning 30 took me to a Baja desert for an experiential meeting with important archetypes via a Jungian play therapist.

Indeed, this only lifts a particularly limited version of some creative openings through my history of summer's repetitive mirages.. shimmering oppression, inside which little is energized to act, less to actively create. The value comes to form in some later realization... I've learned to trust laying into it. Resistance has proved backlash. Opposition could invite disaster. Better to burn with so much grace as I can muster.

Turning forty I chose going home to celebrate with my birth family & returned to Sedona to begin a serious search toward solitude.

Arizona's Red Rocks indulged my excesses deliciously even as dessication did dialogue with life's juice. July's fog in my California garden began to teach me water atop summer's fire, yet that could only begin to prepare me for the Northwest's vacillations in summer weather. We've had several mornings in the middle of this last month's heat when it was downright cold... sweaters are never put far away...

Thus I find coolness in these reflections on my love of heat. My lion basks in fulsome anticipation... sweating & chilling by turn. Even as I await this summer's insight... I must admit to being patiently impatient... dissolving resolve. Resolving dissolve...

The last two or three times I've moved I chose my birthday. Several years ago I declared my preferred birthday gift to be “cleaning out the shed”, which processed into the nearly completed construction this year of the new building Stephen calls his “FORGE”... his writing cottage. “Birthday shed cleaning” has become a truly serious joke around here.

I'd suggested a continuation this year: to organize more functionality into the new sheds, built when the old storage was demolished to began the new construction.

Birthdays want more than parties... Not that I've lacked for those.

Eleven years ago, at the lavish party for my fiftieth, my heart flamed. This year he took me to Ellensburg... 61 jumps! His Washington News Council board meeting... he's its president, coincided with the weekend's Jazz In The Valley Festival there.

We drove over the mountains east 100 miles to Ellensburg on Friday after meeting his friend Robin Jurs for lunch at the Experience Music Project, our museum of rock & roll in a building designed by Frank Gehry. I had ahi for the second time in what was to become a bit of habit. This time it was billed on the menu as Poke... but, while I love avocados, they do not substitute satisfactorily for the salty zest of seaweed seemingly essential to the Hawaiian preparation of this chopped raw fish we came to love there....

The night before I'd made pan-seared ahi for my first birthday dinner... I have celebrated both the 27th & the 28th since childhood, taking advantage of a family disagreement. I'd habitually believed the latter day was correct & used it for my driver's license, but it was the earlier date my birth certificate showed when I applied for my passport... so now that foible has become official!

We'd both worked late at our desks, instead of inside the sheds, because my accountant had found unexpected time that day to set up the new bookkeeping system I've spent weeks getting my computers rebuilt & configured toward. Such long standing process was too important to postpone. Stephen was content, of course, to use the time to further prepare for his meeting.

To cook at home was my choice, instead of his invitation to bring home the ahi & salad we've long loved from Express Cuisine, which was closing that week after years of being our reliable Island favorite. But even a last supper was not so anticipated as my preference for our own timing & easy capabilities to feed ourselves best.

I had ahi again after we'd stopped on our way home Sunday afternoon to stroll through the Bellevue Arts & Craft Show. I've been told by so many for years that I ought to show the bells at this venue, but I'd not yet ever seen it.

We ran into several Island artists who were exhibiting, our friend Ti who makes wind sox Sound Winds... & my college friend Jeannie Boag, with her partner Charles, about whom we had just been speaking in the car. They live on that east side of the city's Lake Wasington, but what kismet was working to put us into such unpredictable proximity? We hadn't seen them for exactly a year. I now can concur & I will begin planning to include that show in next year's schedule.

Curiously we found ourselves at the grill in Nordstrom's at the mall where the craft show is held in the parking ramp. The baby greens really were & the tuna was surprisingly good too, although we wondered together at Stephen's question, “What planet are we on?!?” as we watched & eavesdropped 'round the venue filled with frenzied shoppers who seemed to do all the time what we do so rarely... America's “Malling” pastime.

I had ahi for the fourth time next day. At home, when he brought fillets of both it & salmon for a sampler dinner... he had not had it so often as I. Only now, a week later am I beginning to find appetite for it again... 'wonder what's for dinner tonight?!?

This would seem thus to denoue into a fish story! As well it might be, for all the time spent intertwining the several lame lures of journal entries I'd begun during my natal season. I've not had the truly optimal qualities of unstructured time for my laborious writing process. I'm pleased to have begun to learn how to add hyper links. Gradually I add to my skills, but I rarely can sit long enough everyday to write a full blog entry... As it is I will not attempt telling the story of two days we spent in Bellingham mid-week, visiting friends & hiking in the mountains.

I've had heat on both coasts this summer. I've had it in the mountains & on their other side. I am not deprived. Still, I watch the days growing shorter, seemingly too soon. I'm greedy. I always want more of this middle summer...

Part of aging seems knowing the weight of more memories than space remaining for their future. To practice discernment while throwing open the windows to all one might otherwise miss for consideration. Equally refining one's present & past toward some recipe for what is next.

Thus I find coolness in these reflections on my love of heat. My lion basks in a fulsome anticipation... sweating & chilling by turn. As I await this summer's insight... I must admit to being patiently impatient, savor tanning on all my sides... dissolving toward new resolve.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Looking: After The Bell Convention...

"How do you rest your eyes when you've looked so intensely?"

My friend Jane Tolino was asking me the question while we walked twice around the Sheraton North Baltimore with Gala, her guide dog. I was learning to trust the simple skill of signaling to her hand on my arm which she was teaching... communicating changes in direction or width of path with my elbow's attitude.

We were attending the annual convention of the American Bell Association, where the lights went out for several hours one stormy night... just as we were about to close the sales room. I quickly packed-up the gold bells, which I always carry with me unless they are being displayed at my tables, & we headed for the bar.

The hotel's generator obviously wasn't working. Hotel staff were unprepared... finally they came meandering through, carrying candles like befuddled characters in some play. There were confusing recorded announcements broadcast about evacuation. Rumors about reports of people stuck in elevators. No one seemed to know anything, so we milled about inside & out a tall glassed space which allowed the ample amount of illumination ambient to any American city... it seemed to be just our building with the problem. So, we still could see more than does Jane.

Yet would we?

I mean, do we? This group is a throw-back through fifty years of tradition... Let's just say it's rather last century. They have a certain churchy charm against which some of us are continuing a gentle resistance. It was a very small convention... only 200 souls. We have long observed that shrinking membership, aging & ossifying does not promote growth... but few are young enough to make necessary changes. Many my age are also content to remain & complain...

Me? Well, I only am there for the sales. Or am I?

How do rest my eyes? Jane's question comes again into presence...

I am several days into re-rooting at home after a weighty trip. Stephen went on, before the convention ended, to his next meeting. He was presenting a session of Media That Matters, one of his current projects, at the Media Giraffe Conference in Amherst. He spent another week on the East Coast.

I am thus enjoying a rare solitude. As I rest my eyes now, I am resting lower & deeper than that...

Actually, I suspect I rarely rest my eyes. Oh, I close my lids & sometimes gently massage my orbs. I do, after working close, take in the long views over the Puget Sound's ever changing watery surface toward our mother mountain, Tahoma [Rainier]... I remember using the eye pillows which still hang around. But Jane seemed to be asking something else.

I have made it a joking practice for years, as I think about the creative ways to use & to rest my eyes, to be able to simply ignore clocks. To thus attempt to ignore time. I can easily look at a clock face without registering what it says. It works really well, except when such function ultimately really doesn't work. Still... that's the point... the disfunction of time is common, yet, few play with it. Or do we?

"STOP" is not a word used much these go-go times... so any attempt which brings one against that notion becomes good practice... most people seem not know how to live in the eternities between the hands of their clocks, whether they think they are paying close attention to time or not.

I need more to rest my brain... my psyche. I rest my eyes best by relaxing the inensity behind them. I rest my eyes by allowing them better to see in a truly generous moment of the present.

As I reward myself with this rare opportunity of having a particular quality of time in solitude, I settle into a bit of a puddle. I let my eyes fuzz sometimes while I explore the rooms in my mind with the only mission to look at myself in reflection of the recent period of activity & focus of energies toward the goal of rebuildig my stock of finished bells for these shows.

I will have my booth set up at the Island's Strawberry Festival this weekend. Probably I will sell as much there than I did at the ABA Convention... without hauling myself onto a plane & traipsing across the country to stay in a less than convienient hotel. So I hope to find a bit of balance between these two venues.

So you can realize why I am happily soaking in the rarity of this quiet week of time with no schedule, while Stephen is still working on the East Coast.

During these recent sunny days I've been spending many hours in our garden. Sitting quietly enough to invite hummingbirds close. Lazily watering & grooming... trimming errant plant growth to facilitate the exuberance of the season. bringing in big, blousey bouquets, sometimes in the real... some others as stimulations in memories to decorate one of those deeeply interior rooms of my mind. They will be there when I have another opportunity & need to visit appreciatively, perhaps during winter's dark.

I'm not so much "gardening" as simply being another grazing critter enjoying this healthy environment. I will return soon enough to all that other truth's environment & schedule requires. [I doubt that it is really a "larger" truth, except that it perhaps involves more concensus.] I certainly did not have much of such deluxe time during the six weeks before I packed all those bells. I'm making up for that.

In harness for travel I bagged 45.5 pounds of metal in my carry-on luggage: one hefty back pack with the sample line attempting balance with another big canvas briefcase, filled with the densely packed back stock, shoulder thrown... side stride banging much to front.

I check the two other items I haul: a wheeled bag with duds & show-time details like the the necklace cords, sales books, calculators... tool kit, tweezers & scissors. Finally, a flat package of display boards, light weight... but particularly awkward.

Of course I was examined at security, but they have a far more professional attitude these days. I am gratefull they seem to know from the images on their screen that it is silver I carry. Most times they ask if I'm carrying coins. They don't need to paw through my careful organization any more. Previously I had often been left with quite a mess to organize & repack after putting my shoes back on.

Th convention schedule contains much of the usual milling about between programs & meals, followed with more programs... with several hour or two sessions of time inserted into the schedule for shopping in the sales room. Bell people arrive in wild variety, even in a relatively narrow type to suit this niche of collecting. I share only part of their entheusiasm, not being such a collector myself. I am instead collected by them...

I find much of it a rather tedious mix of too many days of socializing surrounding the too few hours of work tending my business. There are many things I would rather be doing, if I could concentrate those ten hours into half the number of days in an expensive over air-conditioned hotel. Still it is stimulating in other ways.

We did get away several times during the free periods. We visited the Museum of Visionary Art... a trio of remodeled industrial buildings near the inner harbor in Baltimore. Its collection includes many pieces doing social commentary on ways we celebrate... & limit... the variety humans exhibit. Race & ethnic identity, gender & political strife. It was exuberant & somewhat glitzy, with a mirrored mosaic 'round the entrance continuing throughout the building details. Much was "Folk Art" in the true sense. There probably were few "masterpieces" in the usual sense, which was part of it's thrust to educate & delight, even as many of the stories told were quite sad.

We had seen the new Native American Art Museum on the mall, plus parts of the Holecaust Mueum while we were in Washington DC for several days before getting to the ABA in north Baltimore. We resolve to get back with a week's worth of days to do better justice to the vast riches in the museums at our nation's capital city.

That would be a trip without the responsibility of all my weight of bell stock!

By the time I got to the top of the hill, which is a fair climb on Vashon Island, from the ferry to the car, I could feel ecstatic relief, lifting those bags for the last time & to finally be home.

Mostly, Jane, it seems I've best rested my eyes with a practice of better looking...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Beltane Garden Tour...

The garden here on our cliff has seemed exuberant this spring! However, it may also simply be that I have been more interested in looking at them through my new camera's lens, with renewed photographer's eyes... At any rate, that combination has allowed me to find joy I want to share.

While some of these shots date back a month or so, this is representative as a Beltane [or May Day] tour...

Stephen's lawn is one of his prides, & it shows, especially when he's mown it, which he approaches as a meditation...

Here is a view from the bedroom three floors above the Star Magnolia, showing our proximity to the Puget Sound... For more than a month this tree's bouquet has been the garden Prima Donna...

The star quality only increases in a close-up...

Each spring an early yellow Keria must soon vie with a red-red rhododendron, making one of my favorite combinations. Then both are literally overshaded by an umbrella of white wild cherry blossoms... before it becomes a faux snow-storm of petals.

Another magenta magnolia down the slope vibrates with a distant lilac...

Below that is a wild-ish spot I'm just beginning to develope, right on the edge above our bulkhead, It boasts a Ceanothus, which has a color I especially love with its neighboring bronze fennel & a golden bamboo.

On the north we have beds of contrasting Ajuga & a yellow groundcover which bump the impact of these black tulips...

These tulips enjoy the long view to the East...
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Monday, April 24, 2006

Inertia & Old Friends...

To modify silence & inertia has been my recent problem. I must simply wield the distruction which is the first tool for any bit of creation... "to break" is the verb required of any raw material before owning the creation suggested by "to make".

The reasons are legion: Travel inside the period traditionally dedicated to deep inner design process; My hyperactive photographer; A construction project changing the front, if not the soul, of our home; Computer "amusements" which have required solution for a memory problem dealing with of all of those photographs... Yet mostly I am dancing my early beginner's ease with this blogging thing through an inevitable first dry spell.

I know such periods from keeping an ink journal. One could call it writer's block. One could call it life. One must accept it as part of the process, as I understand the experience. One must learn loving such hurdles.

I am begun, & now must decide which parts of the narrative I wish to bring forward... from how far back. The images of Florida seem less interesting now than the blooming views out our own windows, of which I have posted hints. To take my camera on that trip was good. I dived deeper into its capabilities, exploring & practicing so I am now much more facile in my inexperience. I learned by making lots of shots. I am learning even more in the editing processes. I have a huge education yet to come!

The waxing design line has gained a new chorister... will I soon have a bridge to sell you!

While I've enjoyed the kick from that new stimulation, I am woefully far from setting my signature on all as finished wax carvings, ready to be cast as masters for this year's crop. The process of getting photographic stories of their development has been stymied by the inconvenience of needing to stop carving to draw those interim states into the camera's eye. Besides, I've not been able to trust my computer's processes with yet more images.

The building is progressing nicely & rather surprisingly on our preferred schedule, which would see it mostly finished before the Open Studio weekends early in May. The windows are going in as I write. I have been playing with design details, happy to find some sweet resolutions for things we had not drawn-up in our casual basic planning for this project. It looks great on the site & in relationship to the house. The space is coming together as a tidy suite of functions. It is exciting & satisfying. We have long dreamed of this...

This has been as well a period when old friends have surfaced from years of lapsed acquaintance into new sproutings & blossoms... from out of college days in Denver have come a package with a new poetic book lymed with my old calligraphy & a phone connection to a voice we all might have heard commercially. From Sedona's years I have a sweet photo of another favorite foodie. All with stories of our lives interweaving again. I'm enjoying those riches of memory!

This post will have to forgo elaborating photos. They all wait down on the studio's computer. You have only my words for now...

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I have not posted for too long! I am having much difficulty managing all the new images I've spent so much of my spring's energy collecting... here are a few...

These views of the south garden show a red-red rhodie whose timing I love because it plays so lively with the yellow of the Keria..

I continue to experiment with & learn about my camera's wide selection of modes & settings... I'm having a good time making photographs again after retiring my old 35mm a decade ago.

Another sort of "bloom" is the "cottage" we are having built to replace the decrepit shed which space will now become a writing retreat for Stephen...

This retaining wall was built during the original remodel to support the shed... we will continue to use the space underneath the floor as firewood storage.

With this as his contemplative view of the Sound, from it's eventual deck, overlooking the roof [lower] of his office. It will have another composting toilet, plus a bidet to compliment it's small loft, up in the light filled open roof, to allow it to double as another guest space...

We have been enjoying incredible skies over the water of late...

Monday evening's storm brought this blessing of a rainbow as finale...

I close with my own Springtime blessings!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


As today's storming weather begins to break I make a too rare report
from the deep interiors of mostly green waxes...

This Acanthus, beginning to unfurl a new flower stalk in the garden last week, suggests a striking similarity to the wax work I might do in my dreams... or... Perhaps in heaven...

Wax, my favorite medium, comes in all the colors of the rainbow I just photographed. There are thousands of formulae which have various properties of hardness, flexibility, toughness, even a sense of "memory". My favorite wax is hard, crisp to carve, a lovely green, as you've seen. My second choice, particularly for sculptural work is one called "Peck's Purple", which has a gorgeous color as well... they can marry well. Here is a third shade... a wax injection of the bell I have long called the FROG NAMED FABERGE... Production waxes seem to become vibrantly personal choices.

I find many of them rather awful!

I am recarving this design for a number of reasons, even though it has been a popular design in the line. I like it well enough, I'm pleased with the way this guy hopped into my life after meeting him as a jade carving on a Faberge parasol handle. He's been throwing kisses on top of this bell since 1997. I consider him mostly a table bell, but I know he is often worn.

He also throws a number of production problems into the mix. There are basic problems in the flow of the masses through his insouciant pose to the rather large bell form. These separate parts are easily seen as the two colors. They state something I usually try to avoid: designing a a bell shape with a separate handle... I prefer to think of these jewels as their own totality of form & idea.

The Fab Frog is his own person & one supposes he really is that prince... He sits happily atop his bell, thank you very much. But we have agreed to some modifications...

I am reworking it as a slightly smaller version, making him more comfortable as jewelry. I am rethinking the design as sculpture which must also function... as a sprue, or a channel for molten metal during casting. He becomes more compact, while retaining that saucy gesture... in fact, I believe I am actually improving on his aim!

I've spent several more sessions on the wax as I learned how to evolve the design so that there are fewer openings, "collapsing" the form while recapturing certain delicacies with perhaps finer attention. I am learning unexpected things as I revisit this design after so many years. We both are growing in this second, more mature, but still deliciously waxy encounter. I'll let you judge soon for yourself...

In closing I share another shot of the previous affaire...

I decided to use him as the promotional image for the next Open Studio Tour brochure, seen with the silver version which has been in production for several years.

I'm outing my passions with wax by sharing so much of the work at this early stage, in the raw material, seemingly so much less romantic than shiny metal.. Or is it?

This also seems to be a season when designs are moving backward & forward in time: older studies stepping up into new maturity; new maturity taking on older already established designs.

Teach/learning & Learn/teaching...

Time moves in both directions as I tie up this post with an additional nod atop the previous one's notion.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

To Ride A Cock Horse...

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes

That Elizabethan story seems somehow apropos for recent days... Here is our mountain, Tahoma, several mornings ago in one of those hats which she sometimes wears as Our Lady of the Sunrise...

Chapeaux & scarves, necklaces of mist & halos of linticular clouds, lifting in vertical series above her, all can be parts of her drag in our daily views of her from Soundcliff... when she isn't hiding altogether for weeks behind her foggy dressing screen. Is she having bad hair days? Or is she off visiting her sister Shasta for tea? I do suspect she travels in some manner, being volcanic at root. But what a cosmic white horse that mount might be!

All those nursery rhyme bells & rings suit my version of this story to accessorize her further. I love playing jeweler in a mythology of her court! I am working on both ring designs & bells at present... One is the original wax study of the ROCKING HORSE BELL which is currently already in production as a smaller version. This older, too large wax has been sitting on my desk for several years beckoning with a certain elan which the production version lacks.

Its original deep purple color has faded to a faint translucent blue in the sunlight... It was beginning to crack. It has often wished to be saved into metal, if for no other than archival reasons, like a drawing. Even for that degree of preservation it needed some repair & further resolution, so I've enjoyed following the impulse to pick it up again this week.

Each year as I begin the design process I go into a box of waxes, put away during the clean-up for Open Studio, which did not reach completion during the last season. These come out again on the desk to stimulate new consideration. Often designs have joined this lineup for several years before finding enough fullness of attention & maturity to become part of the production line. Some, like this horse, are studies or preliminary stages. This wax seems to have retained some deeper values, even as it has another version already in production.

This original carving was always a bit too big for wearability, but it has a wonderful aspect of "toy-ness" to it... rocking quite nicely! I recall an era when I was working with a play therapist who turned me on to the notion of archetypes which is so important to my thinking ever since. I discovered Jungian validation for an old habit of playing, well into high school, in the sandpile on the farm, making architectural models when some of my uncles believed I ought to be working in the fields. I discovered my own version of farming as I made arrangements in sand trays with toys & objects from the therapist's collection about which he would later make lively analysis.

I love playing in the real with objects which have aspects of importance for holding deeper idea. Sacred play. Important toys. This bell wax seems to have taken on some of those values, so I find energy to bring it along with more attention toward casting.

I have fallen in love with this wax all over again, as I must in order to do such intimate work.

Perhaps this view of the translucency in the faded wax, contrasting to the new dark wax additions will defend my emotion. I am reminded of the term the Chinese use to describe one color range in jade carvings... muttonfat. All this light filled quality will shift after casting into the weight & surface reflection of silver... literally lost in translation.

Enjoying this moment seems indeed to be its own sort of aesthetically important sacred play...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I am aware of a sweet rarity this morning which I remember with such appreciation because it has to do with an exterior quality meshing with an interior receptivity to allow my hanging... suspended in silence.

Nothing absolute... I hear the odd bit of birdsong now or again of a plane somewhere far & low. I know the world has not stopped... so what is different? It is first about my not really having "started"... yet, other mornings my brain is nattering or nearly booming, even, before I open my eyes to the big picture which unfolds just beyond the comforter.

Another aspect for appreciation of quiet is solitude. It has long been rare to share quiet. I remember that from days hiking in Arizona, taking the pulse of a relationship with a companion on the trail... Some times we would find the sweetest conversations with our eyes & ear open & our mouths shut. But that was a rare thing.

Most humans seem to need to fill time with chat. Silence has come to suggest a lack of connection, when it could also be filled with the subtle discernment of absolute connection through such awareness it need not be sullied by the clumsy translations into words.

That applies to written words as well, I come again to know. Perhaps I ought to stop & listen without feeling compelled to write about my rare enjoyment...

Stephen left very early for a two day travel to Spokane, calling me just as I was enjoying having discovered the pot of coffee he'd made, but didn't have time to bring up, as usual, to be waiting on my bed table when I opened my eyes... It was just as happy a love-gift found on the kitchen counter!

So I have the solitude & the silence. Now comes a bit of the sun he reported having in that call from beyond the Cascades. It was dark & soggy when he left. Our rains have been reluctantly giving over to the promises of a clearing break. What we have been experiencing here is not so different than the monsoons we would avoid if planning a trip to the tropics...

Solitude, Silence & Sun breaking through what remains rather overcast. Solitude has changed by the arrival of my bookkeeper, now working at the studio's computer... I have thus also broken the silence with another conversation... So, the moment, it would seem, has passed. Yet as I return to my bed & laptop I find a second calm. I must be working this from within... Hurrah!

This depth of quiet is part of studio... That word so vague because it describes a vast variety of containers for so much, having so many forms in creative endeavor. It is, in this sense, a state of mind... a state of soul. It is receptivity. It is, like the roots of the word, about study... I feel content to stay open even as I practice again losing the delicacies of the early mood, while yet retaining as much as I can of such a gift in awareness. Having had it has reminded me of possibility. Having had it, it is mine again & now I can move with more grace into the middle processes of actually working to live my creativity.

That middle is so very different than the liminal state where one works such ephemeral possibilities so easily toward such fabulous probabilities... all without lifting a finger... Unless like some cartoon of the Biblical Godhead Pointing! But my artist ultimately must involve herself with so much more of the mundane stuffs... the middle place is to struggle with both ideas & materials.

I have brought these words through a passage which has attached the need to actually go to work in the studio full of wax, metal, & tools, yet I encourage trying to hold moments like the beginning for the energy which comes when one can allow oneself to sit for awhile gorging on quiet. Work happens best when it works through both places...