Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Return to Public Glass - Hot Glass Cold Beer

    I was given a hand drawn Treasure Map to an area where some redwoods grow - a place called Portola Redwoods State Park.  Barbara used to go there when she was a little girl, and since I have to tell everyone how much I have wanted to hang out with the Giant Trees all my life, she thought to share this place with me.  It was also right on the way to San Francisco from BAGI.

    You would think that I would have gone straight there.  The lack of fuel & temporary lapse in funding dictated that I proceed directly to Public Glass.  The Redwoods will have to wait. Again.

    I arrived in on Monday afternoon - charge day & shop cleanup.  It was good to be back.  The furnace lost some (but not all) of its decoration, and had been running smoothly since I left in December.  I met up with Evan - with whom I would be staying with - and helped finish up the chores of the shop so we could catch up.
    Dropped the Kids (that's what I have started to call the blow-mold collection) off Tuesday at Todd Tankersley's Studio to have their portraits taken - they are quite spectacular (here's the link).

    I spent some time the next couple of days checking out the city - sold a few of the remaining pipes to a shop on Haight, near Ashbury, which provided me with some much needed cash.  Went to dip the feet in the Pacific Ocean, and walk around Golden Gate Park.  There were all kinds of activities in the park, I chilled out I watched a some music happening.  It is a truly beautiful city, lots of trees - and not just trees, but BIG trees - there is nothing quite like the smell of eucalyptus.

    The week was spent in and out of the hot shop, getting ready for the big day on Saturday - the demo for Hot Glass, Cold Beer & the show, "99 Bowls Made of Glass on the Wall".   The Hot Glass Cold Beer event is pretty neat. The way it works is this: a couple times a week, the studio is open for people in the glass community to come in & practice blowing cups for free.  The cups then go into a collection, which is displayed at the front door on the night of event.  Attendees then pay at the door for a cup, which can be filled all night with beverage of their choice.  There is live music, demonstrations and a show in the gallery.  I hung out for one of the cup slots & brought the molds around for folks to play with.
    The lead up to the event was pretty intense, getting the gallery together, practicing for the demo.  These events are generally well attended - even though they were not expecting a huge crowd (I'm not that well known, you see), it was still going to be one of the biggest crowds I have demonstrated for.  Here are some pics of getting ready - click!
    The time came & let the show begin!  It was so much fun!  It is not very often that I have many assistants and a full shop at my disposal!  Not to mention Live Music to blow glass to!  These guys were playing what seemed like everything out of my "most often played" list. I like to dance & sing when I blow glass, so it was great to know most of the tunes.  Totally unplanned.  The demo went down like this - James was on one bench making little bottles from two of my molds - the design that I have 5 different sizes of - while Evan & I made a bunch of larger ones.  We then started in on a coiling technique that we figured out how to do the day before that would eventually become the neck of the piece.

Stuck them all together & Presto! "Bottle Storm" was born!  I have been dreaming about this piece for about 4 years - the drawback being the resources needed to make it happen.  I did two little ones at FOCI last November - now I REALLY want to keep going - I feel that we have just scratched the surface here.  Hats off to Jason Wertheimer for documenting the demo - Here's a link to an album with loads of pics - Click!  Many Thanks to all who helped this one happen - It was definitely a turning point for me - I think this pic of me at the end of the evening says volumes:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Workshop at BAGI - Day 2

    I spent that evening walking around downtown San Jose. It was quite a scene. People watching is always a trip.  There was a stand up evangelist at one point - microphone & amplifier, bible in hand, standing on a crate. It was a fairly busy spot on the sidewalk in a courtyard, he was facing the street and traffic and there was some interaction from the crowd.  Sort of showboating on the ol' soapbox.  A block away was another, this time in a not so busy spot, no amplifier, just on a crate against a building in some dramatic lighting.  This guy had a sense of conviction that was very intense - you could feel it as you walked by.  More real, in a way.  Less approachable.  Witnessing these two reminded me of a scene from Monty Python's "The Life of Brian".

    There were a few other minor observations along the way that evening, families on vacation, touring.  One of them left a camera behind - good job I noticed, that really would have put a damper on the evening!
    Onward to the next day!  There were molds to be finished & molds to be blown! The shop was a flurry of activity, as there was another workshop going on at the same time - Murrini making with Jonathon Schmuck.  It was fun to have multiple things going on around us.  I have been familiar with Jonathon's work for quite sometime & it was good to get to hang out a bit.  One of the students in Jonathon's class was Todd Tankersley, a professional photographer from San Francisco.  He was entranced by my mold collection & asked if he could photograph them!
    We had a blast blowing all the molds, some with success, others were a learning process.  That is one of the fun things about the workshops, It is really like sketching out ideas and seeing what is possible, and how these processes can be used in a person's own work, beyond the two days.  Here are some pics - Click!
    At the end of the day, Jon, Rich & I gathered up a ton of glass & blew the Biggest Mold I own.  It was a fun way to end the session. We made a bit of a mess, but man, what fun!  There was much video taken - all of which needs to be edited - it will be posted as soon as I get to it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mold Blowing Workshop - BAGI - Day1

    Despite the disappointment of not seeing the Big Trees, I did enjoy the ride through Cali to San Jose.  The weather was increadible, and the views even more so.  Another dramatic mountain along the way, Mount Shasta towers above the surrounding lands at 14,000 ft and change.  All I can say is WOW.  

      I was on track to be in San Jose right around six - until I stopped at a rest stop to cook some soup.  A fellow pulled in next to me in his little blue Triumph.  Stewart was travelling from Oregon to a spot in California where he has been working the land into an organic vegetable farm.  We meandered through life & times - it seems that there are many folks out there paring it all down to the basics, giving up on the rat race and searching for something more meaningful.  It could be that I am just noticing that more, now that I am on this path.

    I finally rolled into BAGI at around 9 pm.  As I turned the corner to park, I was swarmed by hundreds of folks on bikes. Al were decked out - there were tassles, bells, glowsticks, boomboxes, trailers - all laughing and enjoying the moment.  Apparently in celebration of 4/20, there was a "Bike Party" - where everyone went from point to point for live music & mild debauchery - the parking lot next to BAGI being the first stop.  As much as I wanted to join in - I had work the next morning & was quite tired from driving.

         I arrived back at the shop first thing in the morning, refreshed & ready to go.  The three folks in the class, Barbara, Rich & Jon, were energized and ready to go.  Barbara had arrived with pastries from Moonside Bakery - she and her husband own - man oh, man was that a treat!   She also arrived with loads of stuff to play with - including some molds that she was already using that she wanted to modify.  Rich & Jon have been blowing glass together for some time, and seemed to have a bit of a reputation as merry pranksters around the shop.  Everyone had a great sense of humor, there was no shortage of laughter and jokes.

    Here is a link to the first day - Click!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

San Jose Bound

    There are so very many things to see and experience along the way.  I have taken to following my instincts.  This also means that I don't really plan very much.  I just try to allow myself enough time between destinations so that I can explore things as they present themselves.
    I would need a couple of weeks to explore Seattle, and I cannot afford that time this trip.  So I boogied straight on through to Tacoma.  The Museum of Glass there is such a cool spot.  The quality of the work on exhibit there is always top notch.  I had visited in 2003, where I saw Bertil Vallien do a large casting demo.  The demonstration floor is awesome - stadium seating with a mezzanine all around & closed circuit TV where they can really zoom in on what the artists are doing.  I would really like to demo here someday.

    That Hot Second passed, time to head on south.  I spent the day driving through Washington, seeing what I could see along the way.  I drove towards Mount Ranier, I heard that Paradise is on the side of that volcano.  It was pretty rainy, although an exciting drive - I decided to turn around, and save it for a clearer day when I am not so rushed.

I seem to be having a difficult time these days committing to being somewhere at a certain time of day.  The publisized events are not a problem at all - they keep me anchored in a way.  Its the other stuff in between - I get torn between too many different options. I am not sure why this is.  I almost freeze up, as though I am not sure what the right decision is.  I call this "getting in my own way".  As a result, things will happen like not letting friends know I am in town until about an hour before.  This is what happened in Portland, where a friend of mine resides.  All I really had to do was give a little more heads up. Like a couple more hours & we would have hooked up.
    I did take a couple of ours to walk and drive around and check out Portland.  Had a beer at Tugboat Brewing Company. Okay, I had two. They were really tasty.  Took a little breather & got back on the road.  I don't really like driving at night - I miss too much scenery.  Rest stop & nap time.  Woke up at 4:20 AM on 4/20.  My workshop at BAGI was the next day, and I had some miles to put behind me.  Especially if I was going to see the Giant Trees!  I realized a little later that the scale of the maps in my atlas are not consistent - California is a Very Large State!
    That being said, I didn't stop for much until I exited in Southern Oregon at Grants Pass to take 99 towards the Giants.  I stopped at a coffee joint for some, and noticed that the tip jar was hand blown glass. There must be a hot shop around here somewhere.  I started walking two blocks up turn right.  Two blocks down the street I about to turn back towards the truck, when I noticed the word "Glass" written on the side of a building.

The group of artists at the Glass Forge were very welcoming. I ended up grabbing the truck & showing them what I was up to. I blew into a couple of my molds, and so did they.  We all got on quite well - I could have stayed there all day!  We traded t-shirts & I went on my way.  I will make a point of coming back for a visit.  I will be coming back this way I think - I didn't get a chance to see those trees.  I didn't have time. It is okay, for I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason. I have waited all my life to see the giant redwoods, today just was not the day.  I had a class to teach the next day in San Jose.  This is something I was really looking forward to. It is very special for folks to see what I am doing & that they want to be a part of it.  It can be overwhelming at times.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Northern Route

    The last week in Bozeman was an intense one.  I started it with an Easter sunrise service at 9,000 ft. on the side of Lone Mountain in Big Sky.  First time on a ski lift. I am slowing working my way onto the slopes!

   Many projects started that I needed to tighten up before leaving.  I have been determined that I will not leave a trail of unfinished business behind me.  I do not know exactly what life has in store for me - part of this Adventure is to tune in to the current moment & embrace it, not living in the past or future.  I spent my time wisely, enjoying a bit of what the area has to offer socially as well.  It will always be a place that I return to, whether it be for a brief visit, or for an extended period of time.  I came with the intent of starting a public glass studio and found that the seeds have already been planted (Morris' vision of what can happen rivals my own!).  I hope to return in late summer, and bring some soft glass into the picture with me.

    I decided that I would like to drive across to Seattle to see a couple of friends, then South down the coast to San Jose, hopefully with time to stop by the Giant Redwoods along the way.  I traveled through Western Montana, stopping off occasionally to stretch the legs & see some sights.  I had to drive around Butte for a little while, it has a fascinating history - one that is so directly tied to the industrial growth of the U.S. and the world.  There were many new paths under construction, it seems to me that they are finishing up a walking tour of sorts.  Here is a link to some photos from my visit.

   Made it into Washington State that evening, slept a few hours at a rest stop.  I awoke just before dawn, stopped by a lake to watch the sunrise.

    The drive that morning was gorgeous, the landscape going along rather flat until right near the Columbia River where the hills start to undulate & there is a gorge that the river runs through.  Just across the gorge, up a hill then BAM! Far in the distance stands a sleeping volcano, Mt Ranier. Fortunately there is a rest stop there, so I didn't have to pull over to the shoulder.  The sight of this mountain struck me, as it appeared to stand alone, a hundred miles away, massive power rising high into the sky.  I did my best to capture this experience - some photos here.
    I  made into the Seattle area in the morning. I didn't call as I knew Jason would know when I would be there, and of course, he had walked out front to get the mail as I pulled up.  Such a warm welcome with friends that I have known for a couple of decades, yet have not seen in almost one of those.  Amy & Jason have a very special place in my heart, and it was wonderful to be able to spend a couple of days with them & meet their children.  They shared with me the things that make their life there so special.  There was a hike in the rainforest, much silliness with Legos, musical jam sessions, drawing sessions with pastels, and some wonderful meals prepared with Love.  The house was a handyman special that has been lovingly crafted into a home.  That place & its backyard reminded me of how powerful the energy we put into things can be.
    It was tough to leave, but that is the way it is for me now.  I had a conversation about this with my cousin just before they left Montana (oddly enough - the day after I left).  "We are the lucky ones - we get to go and see everyone".  The bittersweet part is that every moment is but a fleeting moment.  Each one is intensely beautiful, then gone.  That is the way life is - I feel that being sedentary can dull this down.  We need to be reminded of this impermanence.