Sunday, October 26, 2008


This slicing view of Tahoma last week captures something of recent moods of intensity focused at depth, drawing down attention to discerning what might be missed with the distractions of what sometimes considers itself "whole".

Time happens for rocks as well...

While I live now on a cliff of an Island of alluvial fill left, a bit too loosely piled, perhaps, while a glacier retreatingly melted only several thousand years ago, I've spent many years earlier meditating the history written in Arizona rock cliffs... eons of alternating oceans & deserts laying down parti-colored layers of sediment & dune, water & wind. Limestone intermixing sandstone... all before having become sculpted by wind & rain over eons more to make the spectacular spires & canyons of that territory. There is then the scattering of lava from the much more recent, yet now ancient, volcanoes which are the San Francisco Peaks above Flagstaff, known these days for skiing.

Time happens at so many speeds... place finds itself only in movement.

The slice of this spell of deep time carving wax is similarly dramatic. I do not fight these yearning impulses when left to my own schedule. While Stephen has been in Philadelphia I have been waxing irregular inside the sort of time it takes to move the mountains of wax... or so it seems from inside my magnivisors, those head strapped hooded lenses I wear to bring my vision down into the macro ranges necessary to carve the wax masters for bells, or earrings or rings... one of each has been current on my bench.

To get to scale useful to my work I must admit my gargantuan sensibilities, which often prove clumsy with a ruinous stroke of the tool. I study the flow of moods as I study the flow of material... positif-negativf again.

Years ago, in Sedona, I designed a hinged lily earring in two sizes. The smaller of those has had production problems which I am aiming to solve by re carving it. I began this wax last year, but have found the focus again toward finishing it. It fits nicely on a dime, to give you some scale.

The ear wire is fat in the wax because I can more easily finish it down to size after it is cast into sturdier metal. It is quite too fragile to refine in wax.

As perhaps you can visualize, it is inserted into the lobe from the back, the wire clicking into position so as to present the flower facing forward. While they always sell, I do not wish the bother of keeping them in stock, given the problems in the original. I trust this new version will allow them to be produced more gracefully.

Another extant design, for a frog ring has long wanted to be available in larger sizes. That is an essential consideration in designing rings: fingers & hands are perhaps the next most facile parts of the body after the face for expressing individuality... coming in a variety of sizes & proportion. One size does not fit all, if you remember the rings in Cracker Jack boxes. OK, I show my age. But after years designing custom rings I am cautious about involving myself again with the vicissitudes of fitting objects so precisely to such wildly organic variety, much less matching each with its own personal taste atop that!

Part of what I like about bells is that they is not quite so specific to the body...

I have been bringing this rarefied, focus back to the THIS IS IT bell about which I've written in earlier posts, these are shots showing the subtle progression as I refine each of the 126 glyphs as sculpture to hold as legible forms against the requisite degradations of molding, casting & polishing processes of production. The better I anticipate problems the easier all that might be...

I've spent three decades trying to teach my willy-nilly artist self that... Is this it?

From the vantage of Soundcliff I collect images of goings-on. I intend one day to post showing the variety of boats which pass by. Something more than a weeks ago I heard a repeating helicopter several times before looking to realise it was hauling a secession of utility poles. By the 4th or 5th time I was ready with my camera. I read later in the local paper the rarity of such obviously expensive method.... required by the remote stretches of our coastline, reached often by narrow roads not accessible to haul such lengths by truck.

That is synchronous with the process we are going through to have a leaning pole, holding our electrical service, replaced. The truck to deliver it has made it down our short road... the pole lays in the ditch, waiting for the crew which will commandeer our lane for the several hours necessary to set it... at their whim.

What must be the logistics of flying such poles in front of my camera's eyes?

Narrow segments of intensely focused time have allowed me to begin toward harvest several designs long on my books... I still study rocks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008



To dance with an imperative from the bell divas
can be such a lovely thing...
especially when I have the delicate time for it...

I celebrate having had several weeks of
that sort of program.

The THIS IS IT wax
has resulted... in almost a full realization.

I'm down deep into carving subtle micro forms & the surfaces they support... which in turn must define themselves as alphabetical. After settling those 126 glyphs graphically, spacing them into construction of what will become the actual surface to be polished, lifted above some contrasting background of oxide not touched by the wheel... is the over riding example of

positif negatif

Not in the usual polarized way -- hence my spelling -- but recognizing the essential spatially creative interrelationships more as yen/yang.

My work is to study flow. If the flow of this idea was a gully washer, bringing what seemed impulse to the genuine challenge allowed that I could but joyfully accept this dance... It is, after all. my sorta song. Calligraphy has always been a tool of my expression.

Positif negatif exists in all dimensions... equal & opposite reactions... as you might remember how energy works. Even surface perceived as two dimensional does not exist without contrasting background depth, implied or actually three dimensional. That is what I must carve. What I must carve in ways which will survive to enhance several more integrations of that shift between positif negatif... the various molds to contain all the flow I was talking about... the original cast of flowing plaster investment around this first positif carving; the then dissolving flow of that wax as it is melted itself in the lost wax process, leaving only a negatif impression on the interior of that first, what will be wasted, mold; which then receives the flow of molten metal into the resultant cavity... CASTING so much of these mental perigrinations over work done while I've been actively design-carving this bell... into metal.

The production process continues in more of these translations. I have written & show some photos about the rubber mold making here

All that before going through the entire casting process, again, polishing out, again, the finished product... which might now be dizzy from all its translations.

Positif negatif Positif

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Kilts, Bloomers & Horn Books...

I am finally reading Howard Zinn's People's History of Of The United States. As I picked up the book this morning I found myself at the chapter introducing the period of struggle for women's suffrage. There was a description of bloomers, which resonated with my last curious post.

It offered a fair explanation for why women still might resist skirts. If anatomy suggests why men might choose kilts, the argument for bloomers against negotiating a stairway gracefully in heavy hoop skirts became symbolic of lingering societal constraints.

Skirts then come to represent oppression for women while they are touted by some... a minority, for sure!... as "freedom" for men.

It has less to do with anatomy than with culture.

In our phone visit tonight, Stephen in Minnesota, told of his attending a new musical at the Guthrie based on Little House On The Prairie. While he was watching what must have been a stage full of hoop skirts, I was working on a new bell wax which shape I told him reminded me of the horn books I'd heard about in my forth grade Kansas History class. They would have been in the background of any Laura Wilder story.

Since I found myself uncertain about my vague mental reference, I Googled to find images. Indeed, those do speak to the shape of my new bell, even more to the function of a horn book as to its form.

I am attempting to carve a two verse poem on a bell. THIS IS IT is a fixture in our home. Literally, as the name of our topmost deck, beside the door of which is a framed rendition of the poem. The cadence of these words is useful to bind a circles of truth with joy & frivolity.

This is it
& I am it
& You are it
& So is that
& He is it
& She is it
& It is it
& That is that

O It is this
& It is thus
& It is them
& It is us
& It is now
& Here It is
& Here we are
So This is it

Alphabet, the lords prayer, horn book... author James Broughton would, I hope, chuckle at all the notions of possible permutations in these images of antique teaching glyphs & words.

My experience with calligraphy teaches I must, especially at the scale I'm working, pay attention to the overall pattern the letters of the words inside my design. That is the overriding essential to my problem. Then, of course it must also be legible.

This distortion helps to show those divisions of graphic space I must use to convey literal meaning just below a unified surface which will sustain polishing as a cast metal bell.

So I share here the earliest waxing of these notions:

Once again I will get to attempt more than virtuosic carving, while that will eventually be necessary within the more technical considerations of flow. All those serifs could become rakes & combs for retaining air bubbles such as to foil easy production. Negative space becomes the potent essential. Designing toward process is much of my work.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Or: Propaganda In The Time Of Tomatoes...

As I watched the Vice Presidential debate several nights ago on CNN I was intrigued by the "reaction graph" scrolling beneath the live visuals of talking podiums that indicated undecided men in Ohio seemed to respond positively more consistently to the female debater & undecided women to the male. Curious bedfellows is a term noting the obviously occurring cross pollination in our current politics. I have to wonder what many of those guys might have thought of another female candidate now overshadowed...

Politics has much to do with innies & outies... left & right... conservative of what is &/or liberal toward change, various versions of yin & yang, female & male, Venus & Mars...

The "Battle of the Sexes" was an archetypical joke line during my growing up, which seemed always to be most true in its lie. The old In & out suggests a Freudian viewpoint but Jung helps me understand better for myself the deeper layers. This is not an either / or argument. We each are wired to want to be in our own way relating to each other. We need each other. We do need all the story there is, especially in the give & take between the male & female selves in each of us... we all have our own particularly sexy ins & outs.

I heard today on one of our local NPR stations an interview with the guy who has started a business making kilts -- Utilikilts is the brand name []. He answered the question from the female interviewer about why men would want to wear skirts when she & her generation mostly eschews them. He answered so simply: "Anatomy".

Anatomy might thus seem curiously at odds with current fashion. Men have worn skirts & robes much longer than they have worn pants. Long pants, indeed are relatively recent in history... our country's founding fathers wore what were essentially tights, sometimes only barely lacking the codpieces of several generations before, which we no doubt would now consider foppish at best. Pants have their origin with the Mongol horse tribes, the barbarians of ancient history.

My father once told of his pride in having a pair of long pants instead of his more common knickers for his school picture in the period before WWII. Pants have long risen to the symbolic connotation of male freedom. Do you get the kilt guy's almost joking point?

Perhaps being gay I have some earlier, if not always easier, blending... yet I must admit I might define freedom by continuing to wear the tights I find habitually comfortable here in the NW under any kilt I might be considering.

Our best experiences have always been while yearning toward drift over some line or another... to join our own other. To procreate & create in all of posibility's bountifully beautiful forms. That coincides with what I think art mostly is, so I can talk this way from under several of my numerous hats.

Us & them does not make much sense when all of us are suffering through yet another lesson about the failure of dominance. We are smart enough to know we need cooperation even as we do not have ready tools to proceed beyond hesitantly stepping up to a line. Why can we get only so far as to confront from our own side?

The battle of those oppositions we call the sexes has always been ultimately about love, hasn't it?

We each talk from under several hats. None of us, no matter our resolution to steady ourselves in some adamant position, has the comfort of only one opinion. Such a mind has no center to hold. Weakness & instability are definitions of moving nowhere in ever changing times. We each have at least two minds... those define our freedom of choice. That is politics. The lines moving up & down on that TV graph were all about that. Those lines were dancing with each other... seemed to be courting each other.

I'll leave you to parse out the colors in current politics: black & white plus the entire range of grays, all atop the entire rainbow's spectrum; & the genders. I suggest we like & actually need all that variety.

In opera the term "pants role" describes a part now sung by a female soprano dressed to play a man, because her role & music were written for a castratto... one musical ideal for a man in a time not so long ago...

Anatomy = pudenda. Women would seem thus to be meant more easily to wear the constriction of pants.

Freedom for men might lie elsewhere...

One of my notions of that freedom could show art's history of the ideal in gorgeously naked Greek athletes training to stride as the soldiers in armies led by generals the likes, they might hope, of the queer conquerer Alexander the Great, who continues, I understand, to be a major strategical study for even today's generals... but don't ask, don't tell.

Some politicians can't seem to get beyond our current paranoia about the many faces of love. Such spectral fact is lost in a polarity of male or female. While I understand there are no small number in their constituencies who share that paranoia, I know, as do the humans they are, the fragility of trying to pin life onto such narrow construction.

Futilely they dig in their heels to shortsightedness. Too many have gay children or grandchildren to not be actively questioning that stance.

I don't mind verging toward writing a tract for being queer, however, I really want to keep the focus on how our polarities get bridged. I point to seeing that we all are in shifting roles. We must celebrate taking our own flavor of position, as absolutely good. That is our role in the body politic of a democracy. I am intrigued by the parsing of our national debates. I never watch television, yet I did tonight,,, wanting to see how the words were spoken. That medium gives me clues from body language, which allows me a rare celebration of that medium, when I ordinarily prefer to listen to those words on the radio.

I needed to look & to see...

In so many ways pants roles still abound... the female opera singer does double duty for those who feel castrated by a system they still don't know how to resist, even as they feel some need, because this system does not care for them either. The masculine myth is hardly democratic.

Can we learn from our love of our own sexual nuance? That part of us we know is unique? We've been studying that for eons... So were those naked Greek hunks parading themselves without the trousers which are needed to play that role now. Our game is the same, but I like the other teams uniforms better...

I've been kilting the issue...



If I were tech savvy I would have a more seamless link to Sally's Tomato by Henry Mancini from Breakfast At Tiffanys for you to play in the background, while I share a shot of some of the harvest of green tomatoes sitting in my studio because our rains have begun too soon for them to ripen.

If a shot from the unsubstantiated internet follows... meaning that I have no proof of this image's integrity even as I submit it for being the political cartoon it obviously is... I trust you will remember that Masini title celebrates winking toward a moll...

We're all in political drag... may I have the next dance?