Tuesday, December 21, 2010



An accident occurring just two days before the Open Studio saw the door, which would soon need to welcome our visitors, broken into a million-pieced jigsaw puzzle... giving my camera's eye some wild visuals... while being accompanied by a curious soundtrack of crackling pings & tinkles which went on for several hours as the tempered glass continued its slow disintegration. It held in its suspension of gravity for most of a day before falling into a fine mess needing careful attention toward clean-up!

But for those hours I enjoyed views seeming quite decorative & festive, even inside the frustration of a difficult situation. I was sad when I opened it one time too many for its fragile state... as it fell into a heap of sparkling shards. I'd wanted to make even more photographs, although you might not want so many as even these!

Fortunately the inside pane was intact because it wouldn't get replaced until Solstice Eve. The door functioned fine during the two weekends of the event, which was slower than I had hoped, due to weather matching that adventure. Yet, in the end, we wrote a respectable business even so. The bells do love ringing their role as holiday treats!

This self-portrait suggests my own fracturing during this busy time... holding on while letting go.

While our weather was too overcast to view last night's rare Solstice eclipse... this morning's dawn was happily dramatic. A great beginning of the new year!

Solstice is the real deal of this season, as I've noted for many years. Test-able... as the light seems already to be changing, if simply because the gallop toward shorter days has reached its ultimate exhaustion. While the pace in their lengthening will not seem quick enough I love the turning toward the light which this... the real holiday... promises.

I am exhausted in tandem... the season in the studio is mostly finished. Christmas always seems a bit anti-climatic to me & our New Year is a tardy event waiting for the calendar to catch up with the astronomical fact.

While I remember years ago having a studio rush well into Christmas Eve... selling gold earrings to guys shopping last minute presents for their ladies, while I poured liberal shots of brandy to lubricate easier choices...

These days my clientele has it already wrapped up... Hurrah!

So I am holding the day in peace & quiet, sending those qualities to all who appreciate its inherent joy! Our Lady Tahoma, seen here several evenings ago, is a fine teacher of such sentiment... I never tire of her lessons. Perhaps she offers wisdom even at distance...

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The season has continued to be wet & mostly too cool for my preference, yet with enough warmth to encourage growth & blooms when most flora are aware of the shortening days. The garden has been a bit confused, along with the rest of us! This viburnum is blossoming a second time even as its leaves are turning...

[Clicking on the photos enlarges them... click again for full size.]

My camera has been challenged to catch images inside that lowering light. I've made some images forgetting that I'd bumped the the film speed up, rendering a grainy quality I would have tried to avoid, while giving some quality of mood which I rationalize as apropos.

Hollyhocks are favorite flowers from my childhood. These are the last of those in the garden...

One big joy has been the bounty of food available to my chef, although I am loath to harvest from the pink kale "roses" above. It has become trendy to make & share images of "food porn" on the Internet. As will become evident, I am not impervious to that notion, but my gardener would prefer to begin with food more truly "in the raw"!

Here in the north garden, which is in its third year being wrested from a steep dense clay slope, the purple cardoon blooms can be seen with the yellow umbels of bronze fennel

Cardoon is a thistle-cousin to artichoke, which it resembles. Its bud is inedible, but in France the stems are braised as a vegetable. Several have started from seed which survived composting in a bed of other greens seen beyond the smoke bush.... I'll transplant those cardoon to a drier border next spring. A couple of acorn squash volunteered rather too late in the foreground... they are involved in an improbable race to ripen!

But the Brussels sprouts [I've been trying to find why they are so named...] are beginning to find their way from the garden to our table. I've been experimenting with a recipe I found on the web for a salad of those buds raw, finely shaved with mint, dressed with a vinaigrette enriched & mellowed with toasted almond butter.

Now here are some shots of food on our table. Caprese is our favorite summer salad, fresh tomatoes from the local farmers market composed with slices of buffola [fresh Italian mozzarella made from water buffalo milk] dressed with pesto, atop greens [lettuces, Lacinata kale & purple orach] from the garden & garnished with blossoms [nasturtiums, arugula, kale] . Oh, now I spy a single snow pea which I suspect Stephen dropped alongside before he made the photo... I often do not have my camera at hand in the kitchen when I'm cooking. Thank you, M'Dear!

He captured this skillet of a succotash of fresh vegetables for me as well...

Here is lunch one day last month: An omelet topped with avocado accompanied a hash of vegetables from the previous night's dinner, garnished with the last of the season's fava beans... which I love best grilled in their husk... along with some of the pickled lentils I love to make.

Not having room for an orchard, we buy fruit. Pears are favorites for dessert. Here I paired one with champagne grapes & an excess of shaved chocolate. One of my mottoes has long been "Excess is best!"

A second version was grilled with a wonderful Gorgonzola & some pine nuts, plated with a puddle of warm marscapone softening chunks of dark chocolate... Armagnac to sip with. I wish I'd used the erection of the brass figure of Bes as the knife holder it was made to be. Playful friends sent us a pair from Istanbul & we use them with great amusement

A final pear joined the mushroom pies I made for dinner just a couple days ago. The crust was my first experiment using gluten-free flour. Each had a different base to the filling: one of curried lentil Dal, the other of sweet potato seasoned with smoked paprika & finely minced cedar needles, which my palate has been loving to dance with of late. Shitake mushrooms have been abundant, onions caramelized with garlic are constants, both pies were topped with these plus dollops of marscapone.

I made a special pastie for Stephen's flight to Mexico the next day, packed with a frond of that cedar.

Salmon is another favorite local food... perhaps caught in this net being hauled in below the Prow deck.

The reflection which inspired this post to begin with, before I got lost in the kitchen garden, was first seen, but missed as I hunted for my camera. The next day I was quicker & better prepared, anticipating the fleeting opportune moments of a freighter catching raking light of approaching sunset. I didn't plan the fulsome moon getting involved...

As the ship sailed through our view across the shipping lanes of the south Puget Sound, looking toward the city, that brilliant light caught the plates of the hull, turning them into gem facets of topaz... or the scales of a golden fish...

Meanwhile, back in the studio...
my birthday orchid has been joined by dahlias from the garden.

In this spell of solitude, I predictably find myself
seasonally settling inward...

Thursday, October 14, 2010


This view of Tahoma, wearing one of her lovely hats, distracted me from the garden on a recent evening. I'd been photographing the sedum blooms ripening from a rich pink toward their autumnal bronze coloration under a Lacinata kale in the lowering light.

[Remember... you may double click to enlarge photos.]

I love this season for the appearance of a rich plethora of resilient webbing spun by the maturing hunger of a zillion spiders feeding during breeding season for both themselves & their egg cases. While gorgeously decorating Soundcliff's windows, doorways & garden paths... they thus render me the destroyer of much craft, art & sculpture.

I wrote last year about spider webs but this year my camera has been seduced anew. Being so subtle as to be invisible in some light while another angle brings them into stunning reflection against dark background... they are deliciously elusive to capture with the lens. Finding the vantage point with good back-light against a low-keyed background, or shooting at night to catch that deeper contrast are interesting problems to solve. Raindrops included might be photographically trite but that's probably because they too are such a fine teaching tool!

I have been re-reading old journals, trying to find mentions of a particularly important project during the 1982-83 era. Today I found a description of watching a spider building its web in the space above my wax desk in the studio when I lived in Sedona, AZ.

I frequently discover synchronistic rhythms in my history relating to current life so this morning's serendipity stretches & stitches this story of arachnid interest over some 28 years. I'm reminded as well that I had a spider collection during my grade school years on the farm in Kansas... so all this spins much older still... even as I happily present a more respectful enjoyment than what would now be 50 year old vials of specimens in alcohol!

GRB Journal: 27 July 1982

What an amazing fantasy environment exists above my studio lamp! A tiny white spider caught my magni-visored eye. First sight was on a piece of wax from which I'd been taking bits with a hot tool... stringing out threads of my own. Running along the mandrel. Sticking his/her tail up doing a tippy-toe dance. 'Seemed to be tying something. No, its the ass that's doing. What a trip to tie knots with your ass! Oh! There goes a thread... he's shooting it out! Another dance as he winds up the slack fibre he's floated out, sticky enough to catch on the lamp above ! & in moments he's scampering up that ephemeral line -- his own projection. Real enough to crawl on. Of Himself. A chance hook on whatever the breeze took it to. Or is it chance? Is he playing the breeze & his line whipping it with studied English. Surfing that rip let of air. Aiming. Probably some of both. He must be whistling while he works. He does dance & dash. Floating suspended on an elegant construction. Up he goes. This time I know he has a previous line. A more well traveled path into areas of the corner I haven't recently disturbed by moving the lamp. The lamp is a hunting expedition. Home must be up near the ceiling-- he's got roads & even expressways up there. The web even near the light & with my magnification are almost invisible. Only when they catch the light, then even only after he follows one... traces dot-to-dot do my eyes focus on it! As I become aware I see the drawing. He's been busy! Neat stitching! ... Becomes almost space travel. He's out of sight... I followed with my mind & got lost on this page.

[ I've only slightly edited this entry, deciding to leave the male pronoun I mistakenly used, apparently identifying myself with what was no doubt a female, but cutting a short confusing tangential reference. It is curious to make a transcription of only a single page out of the thousands which exist in these journals.

This shot attempted to catch several versions of flight seen through our bathroom window... a papier-mache figure with feather wings inside & an iron crow sculpture out on the deck rail, with a web built floating on the breeze, it's real flight spans some 12 foot distance.

Some times I can't decide which shot I like best. I give you this choice:

Ephemeral beauty abounds !!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Studio this evening encompasses
almost more than it avoids...
I think...

This study dances over several...
I mean three... decades.
The orchids on my desk were gifted me
by Joanna's husband Andrew
on my birthday last...

back dropped by
Kip's [Kevin Perry] painting
which has its own collection of stories
weaving several delicious conjunctions of time
in Sedona ca. 1980...

I advise you to simply accept this picture
in lieu of some thousand words from me...

Sunday, September 19, 2010


[This has been sitting as a draft since I originally wrote it on the 28th of May. It is a example of the typically curious essays I write all the time in my mind & I should edit it more but I've decided to post it with photographs caught since to illustrate.]

Inside the opalescent light remaining from a stunning orange dawn I watch one of our eagles trying to fish out over the water of Puget Sound, bedeviled by an agile posse of gulls. The eagle makes tactical retreats toward our cliff in unmistakably dramatic flight... exhibiting a manner remarkably different than that of its hecklers.

On other days it might be the crows who gang-up to tree the predator, making a terrible racket during long demonstrations of collective power around the one who seems simply to assume ultimate dominance by sitting in quiet solitude on a snag with a bearing suggesting contemplative wisdom.

There is yet another racket today. In the same scene, fighting for the same salmon, are two fishing crews, Each pair of boats, straining-in-opposition with [to?] each other, first spreading the nets long & then with engines whining at full throttle pulling together, closing the ends, hauling in what hopes to be a fine catch.

We love finding salmon at our local fishmonger's stand, sometimes being told it was indeed caught within our view...

Inside this slice of life, viewed from my privileged situation, I sit in my own version of solitude thinking about the taut relationships defining value in all sorts of hierarchies.

It seems too easy to identify with the stately eagle, sitting-out the more active & less attractive societal confusion of the communities it competes with. I have witnessed such collaboration in an even more angry battle, mounted by robins upon the loss of a nest of eggs or fledglings to such a predator.

I hear with all my deeper senses the aliveness of this painful ecology. I have to sort my values: Songbirds, clown-birds, tough old salts of the shore... & a soaring invitation to the fantasy of rising above it all. I feel the conflicting polarities of being alive... of realizing conflict, freedom & death... of killing to eat.

I intend leaving that conundrum to hang as a mental postcard while I muse another value system which has recently sparked several studio conversations around questions that frequently come when folk encounter the differences between the metals of the bells in my display.

The silver, which has long been part of the bells' identity for its tradition of beauty & respected value, is familiar. But the warmer color of the bronze bells, which I stock in ever growing depth, evokes the question as to whether they are gold... making an implied compliment to my working the milieux of jewelry, but expressing another questioning sense inside such assumption... because bronze does not really look like gold, even to undertrained eyes.

Bells are historically common in bronze, for many reasons, but first because of its fine resonance. That my bells are most often considered jewelry might have excluded that less than "noble" metallic alloy altogether, but for the obvious bridge of this function, even at this unusually miniature size. When I began exploring what bells were about, it became apparent there was not good enough reason to deny bronze simply because it seemed a bit brassy & uncouth in the fancy venues to whom I intended marketing. Because of its qualities of voice I began experimenting with it even as I was having to bridge my own jeweler's prejudice against such common, un-precious, alloys.

Bronze positively resonates with a number of values different than its cousin brass, which has long been the basic "base" metal of costume jewelry & of the military regalia featuring buttons, medals & horns. The words "brass" & "brassy" have evolved to connote complicated shades of meaning around its qualities. Bronze has come to suggest an ancient age of tool-making & arms. We've biblically made swords into plowshares & historically made the sculptures & celebratory bells of the previous victors into new cannon for ever more "biblical" wars. Both are alloys of copper, with small proportions of other metals such as tin & zinc. Both have historic value for making a broad range of common functional objects, including coinage of small denomination.

Now, I do also cast my bell designs in the higher denomination coinage of gold, exploring the resonance of that rare alloy as well. I love encouraging comparison of colors, the subtle spectrum in their visual & aural palettes, as I share examples of the same bell design cast in each of these three alloys. Their values in the system can shift from familiarity as jewelry & tabletop material through monetary or military uses toward being something more simply musical.

[LARGER CHOCOLATE LILY BELL shown left to right cast in Bronze, Silver & 14K Gold.]

My favorite current example, showing the LARGER CHOCOLATE LILY BELL cast in each of those three metals, allows hearing first the gentle sweetness of that design in silver, which does indeed make fine sound & is the metal I use most frequently, then the gold, which ups the ante into a much more ethereal quality, to the bronze, which in this case becomes even more intense to many ears as it comes close to that sense of "brassiness"... pitched almost too high & perhaps a little insistent in the beginning, yet lingering into a sustained finish one's ears must strain toward, sensing impossibility to know its end, which then obviously extends beyond our range of hearing.

How does one value such sound? Can it override coin of the realm? Of course, my answer is affirmative. Much as I treasure the qualities of noble metals, as a bell maker I treasure most that elusive aspect, that delicious problem in physics which must be intuitively solved to develop resonance inside my sculpture as a result of the clapper's percussive strike. I'm making more than visual ornament. Nobility comes from more than vaunted rarity... its gift functions best in the broad sensual range of everyday reality as well.

So I've come to champion appreciation for this "base metal" snubbed by jewelers who need to ride the glitz & value of materials more ordinary to our trade. We know that bone, wood & feathers also have beauty, rarity & depth of symbolic value as material for design... ivory, ebony, the peacock & kingfisher feathers making such improbable color in ancient Chinese or Aztec jewelry, or the layers of shell carved to reveal our grandmother's cameos.

The large jewelry store chains which in previous seasons had been clients for the bells now refuse to stock any objects in even sterling silver for reasons of the high per-square-inch costs of space in their display cases. Only gold or platinum set with the sparkle of valuable stones net profit enough to pay their rent, they reason. The magic of my bells no longer fills their bill. Even the archetypical bell sound of cash registers has been reduced to electronically recording sales resulting [or not] from the predictably flat glossy pages of advertising bling. We probably won't be on the cover of Gump's catalogue again anytime soon...

I have few problems with that, having long ago realized the market for bells involves a more genuine rarity: actual delight, usually unexpected & certainly unpredictable are very personal values not shared or even easily perceived by those needing the validation of a common taste directed by mass advertising. True shoppers have always had confidence to explore & search for those qualities made evermore elusive by the dilution of our language in advertising full of words like "unusual" or "rare" or "artistic" for items we know are not. Most businesses simply can't afford the media to tout anything actually limited in availability or taste...

I am rich in rarity: my bells are not mass produced & neither is their curass-cum-clientele. Even though I've more than 200 designs, none are produced in large quantity, being made in small, literally hand crafted runs. & offered by a half dozen independently minded outlets... plus my own studio's website.

I never did have the psychic energy to deal with a mindset narrowly focused on some bottom line, so my studio has always stood outside what would be commonly considered good business sense. The bells have taught me values beyond such ordinary notions. I am rich for that alone.

We hang out quietly making our own vibrational energies palpable to the subtle senses of those who happen upon come to share our kind of joy. The bells, cast in metals noble or not, celebrate very experiential values of personal meaning. They are jewelry. They are sculpture. They are musical. They are seen, heard & held in ultimately intimate ceremony with life. Ageless connections to deep places different in each psyche... tools & toys of delight!

This post arrived with that card left hanging in the beginning... I return to wonder am I eagle or crow or sea gull? Songbird, salmon or fisherman? Where do I fit in the hierarchies of this animal business? Am I magician or merchant? Alchemist or artist? Hopefully I am a small part of the fulsome creativity of it all!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Stephen & I watched Fellini's 1965 film Juliet of the Spirits one recent evening & I'm saturated again remembering my history of appreciation for its seminal effects. It has remained a mental soundtrack long after I wore out the vinyl album which I played much of my college life to... becoming subliminal as I lived my own version of its archetype for these 30-plus years. I'm pleased it holds up & seemed even to capture he who was seeing it for the first time after hearing my numerous mentions of it over our years. I recommend it...

At the same time I have been editing the hundreds of photos I made last week while being a counselor at Camp Parkview. This is the camp, here on the Island, for developmentally disabled adults. Stephen & his brother Mark had been attending for some years before I came along & we three have done it together for many Augusts since.

Mark & I celebrate back-to-back birthdays during the last of July... early in the sign of Leo & we love to roar our leonine pride together. It was especially good to have him around to celebrate this year since I was mostly keeping mine quiet...

Because last year I was not sturdy enough for the rigors of camp, Stephen took his own turn this year to stay home for his own work while I went with brother Mark to this week of time special to him & some 60 other unique folk who attend... plus more than half that number of volunteers & staff.

Collectively we all are such characters it is not unlike living in a Fellini film for 5 days, if you track with my drifting mix.

Mark is gregarious... a party boy even... he loves music, especially vintage rock & roll so he loves to dress up & is ready to dance anytime, even outfitted with a life vest for canoing! He more rarely can be also a bit dreamy, as seen costumed for the drama/storytelling workshop which is led by our friend Myrna, who brings all sorts of props & masks for creating a morning of theatrical play...

While there is a scheduled evening social dance complete with a live band, we find many other times to dance. A boom box at the boat house brings music to of our boating time after dinner each evening... while some folk are out on the canoes, others are rocking out... making a lively beach party! Of course Mark loves both activities...

We play all sorts of ways, freeing our variously real interior clowns... even as we enjoy the natural beauty of dusk...

Here Mark is singing & doing the hula during a session led by our ukelele playing friend John, who was a founder of this camp several decades ago...

Another favorite session for most of the campers is when yet another Islander brings his huge collection of drums & percussion instruments, encouraging our making glorious noise!

The daily arts 'n' crafts session is another favorite time for most of the campers, with a variety of media from painting & bead stinging to tie-dying. There is always music happening while we play at projects... with occasional spontaneous dance breaks here as well.

Activities range a wide diversity... basketball to fragrant wax-dipped hands during "spa day".

There is a carnival one morning,

In addition to the dance band evening there is always a movie night with popcorn. But the most anticipated evening event is when Elvis arrives. This gentle impersonator has become a fixture... for reasons that become more & more obvious as performer & audience warm to each other. He is mobbed by his fans & does not remain on stage for long. He soon dives into the mosh pit of their joyful adulation & engages as many campers as possible, dancing & singing directly with clusters of them in physical as well as musical hugs. He is good! I'm not certain who is having the most fun... he obviously loves them as much as they do him!

Mark had a camera as well this year... I wonder what his views might show...