Reflecting on Reflection

Often the reflection on the lake is more believable than the physical sky and surroundings.  
The actual clouds and hills seems so dense and far, while the reflection pulls my attention right to it.  Possibility and depth rippling on the surface.
What lurks?   

Kitchens

Stretching my sewing tape end to end on one side of the kitchen, and adding a foot to the other, makes my kitchen 5′ x 6′. 
It works fine.  Two burners, tiny fridge, tiny sink.
The sun streams in.  
The white reflects the brightness of the day.  
I was going to leave it at that, until I started remembering different kitchens in my life.
The first was climbing up and sitting on the edge of the sink, who knows how old, as my mom cooked dinner.  I would do different antics, wanting to lighten the mood.  I remember vividly, mimicking an Indian accent, pretending I was “Krishnamurti speaking” over and over “Krisnamurti, here, and speaking”. 
The next was the most depressing kitchen I’ve ever been in.  I’ll leave that one alone.
On to the one filled with sun and much fun.  A huge round oak table that supported our changing lives- from my mom pounding out a story on her Smith & Corona to my friends gathering around after cutting class, eating everything in sight because of the munchies.
Summers and weekends we would return to where I pretend to be Krisnamurti.  To the table that held a chip, marking the number of years of my dad’s sobriety, proudly displayed in a knot of the wood.  The same table that I slammed my fist down upon, in anger, wanting so badly, to prove many a point.
Then came the low to the ground table in Guatemala.  The hours and hours of drinking coffee, philosophizing, creativity flowing, under a thatch roof.  A kitchen filled with beautiful hand made everything- from the dishes to the yogurt.  The wake from the occasional boat passing, hitting the dock just out the open doors.
Skipping over many kitchens to the one that I made with my own hands.   Heavy, round cornered, 1950’s stove and refrigerator.  A stain on the wall where the match strike became the light for the burners.  Simple.  Easy to change.  And change it did!  Into a state of the art re-model.  Expanding the standard, and raising the height of the cupboards, to meet that of my then husband.
Coming around, full circle, to the sun on my back, this morning, here, in my tiny kitchen.

Inspiration Competition

Hanging my legs over the end of the dock, feet dangling in the water, I hear a young voice, “I need to get my feet into that lake!  I JUST need to do this!”.  Mom, dad, sister, and grandma are the audience, seeming to roll their eyes at maybe a common type of drama… and by the way the girl keeps looking over at me, I take it that I, a total stranger, am her inspiration.   

So off the girl goes, out of sight with her dad, toward the stairs where she can actually step down to dabble her tiny feet into the lake. 

Time passes, I am enjoying.  Being.  The sun is out and everyone seems to be enjoying too.  I completely forget about the girl.

Then, I feel a vibration in the dock that I am sitting on.  A little shivering body, running, bypassing her family who are shaking their heads and sort of clucking their tongues, approaches me.   Making sure I see her, entirely soaking wet, dripping from the neck down, she gives me one of the most mischievous grins I’ve ever seen.  No words but I am getting the message from her that “My fun out did your fun!” 

It took all I had to not dive in, without a word, right then and there.

Glass of the Past

This morning the sun hits my latest work sitting in the window and I am reminded of some of the glass in my past.   

Broken windshields at the dump.  Sifting up the glass and letting it pour out of our palms slowly to the ground, eerily saying, “Jeeeewwwwweeelllllllsss” like pirates at a treasure chest.


Beach glass found on the shore.  Lunch bags full of it stored under my bed.

Shot glasses in Mexico.   Brown, green, and blue rims. Bought with my allowance money to add to my windowsill’s collection.

Glass, the material that pulled me full heartedly and passionately into a career, a business, and reminds me everyday that, yes, I am, an artist.


The Bells

6:45 a.m. every morning sounds a horn.  The same again at 7, 7:45, 8:00, noon, 1:00, 5:00, and then FINALLY at 6:00. The sound comes from this tower smack dab in the center of Corning, NY.  They have named the tower “Little Joe”, tall, white, with a glass blower’s silhouette painted on the 4 sides.  


The tone is a cross between a bull horn & fog horn.  It is LOUD.  Since last May it has yelled in my ear that it is time to get up.  It could be heard as charming and quaint history that the once factory town woke it’s workers.  

To me, it screams “Work Ethic” plain and simple.   

You are born, grow up, the factory calls, the product must be made, time to get up, time to get there, time for lunch, time to go home.  

Life over. 

Waking each day to the sound triggered my inner rebel who says, you go on to the call of the bell, I’m going to go and do my own thing.

My “own thing” brings me to Hammondsport, NY.  Where the chimes wait until 8 am to sound from this church.  And I have to laugh that the 12:00 chimes are sounding as I write this. They will sound for the last time of the day at 6.  

It is musical chimes!  Like someone in the basement actually playing a song from their heart.  Just joy.  Light hearted joy.  

Now, what do I do with that?

The Fall

In April I was asked what my hesitations were about doing a job I was being interviewed for-?  Emphatic and over reacting to the question, I responded with “LACK OF MY OWN MY CREATIVITY!” ….. and then……with about just as much gusto as my response to NOT wanting it….. I accepted the job when it was offered.  
I am now coming down from the summer of working in a corporate glassblowing job which has kicked my butt on one hand, and landed me in one of the most beautiful places in the world on the other.
The butt being kicked?  So many ways….. one of which is my wounded foot from a bicycle accident I had on the way to work.  While, being the great employee that I am, I kept working on and stomping around in the studio on for the last 2 weeks of the job.

And, now the job is over, I allow my foot to heal here at the southern end of Keuka Lake, NY, one of the most spectacular places I’ve seen.   Fall is on the way.  Fall is here.  Daily.  

And…. I am back to that place I was in April-  My own creativity.  My own life.

Only now, it stares me in the face with a “how could you do that to me” look. And….I get it.  I get how the body will stop to get my attention when I am so busy that nothing else can.  It is part of a way that I used to live and am used to living.  It is an old authority.  
As the new way just keeps loyally tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me that it is here.  I turn toward it to get a glimps.  There is support in taking its hand and walking with it.  Maybe just for a bit today, slowly, out into the fall.

The Glass Dresses

    Since the big question has been “Where did you get the idea for ‘The Glass Dresses’?”
    Here, I give you the short and photographic version…..
Photo by Ann Cady @ ARC Photographic Images, Corning/Elmira NY
The latest glass dress 8/2012

In Ventura CA approximately 2004, my hot shop was glowing brightly.  After finishing the work of the day I would go to NIA, a dance /movement technique led by Kate Nash of Ventura NIA Center.  Kate, in front of the class, moved her body light as silk in the wind and was able to quickly change those movements to a razor sharp intensity that could slash a cinder block in a second, all the while with compassion, guiding us in our own dance.

At this same time Ventura County Women’s Professional Network was holding a wearable art competition.  I, being a clothes maker, wanted to make something out of glass.  My challenge was the model…Who could pull off wearing glass? Then I realized if anyone in the world could, it would be Kate. 

Not knowing her very well at the time, I sort of tip toed up to Kate after class asking if she would be willing to model for this upcoming competition….”ABSOLUTELY” was her deep, beautiful, british voiced response.

It became a collaboration.  We chose the music Carmen’s Bizet- Maria Callas, I made the dress for Kate and she wore it, but what really happened is is that she “danced” the piece….jaw dropping danced it!  We won 2 beautiful trophies- People’s Choice and Best Interpretation of the theme, which was “TheTalk of the Town”. 

Around this same time Focus on the Masters was having their  first Annual Open Studio Tour and my studio was on the map.   I wore this dress for the gala opening of the tour at the Ventura County Museum.  When people came to my studio the next day they were coming to see the dress.  They said they were afraid to appear to be staring at me at event the previous evening.  I still don’t know if their fear was because of how revealing the skirt is, or how intense the piece looks in real life.

I made a dress to wear to the gala every year after that……


                                                                                    Photo by Paul Nissen

Photo by Kim Stephenson

As I write this, so many vignettes come to mind centered around wearing the dresses….I will tell you about them in time.

Kate Nash and Teal Rowe @ Kavli Theater

 As for now my friends….

photo Ann Cady

      The End




    Grabbing The Love


    I started out as a painter, and moved to silversmith;  my skill as a glass blower had brought me to an opportunity of guiding at risk youth in painting.   The last many years have been rewardingly filled with the business of a glassblowing studio and its production demands.  From introducing “The Glass Dress”, to the public demonstration of glassblowing techniques, I have enjoyed the evolution of my creative process.


    The colors of a hot piece of glass while it goes through its changes invoke a spectacular awe.  There is no way possible to reproduce the visuals of this transformation.  I pay close attention and am a witness to the moment.  I take this philosophy with me into many areas of my life. (photo above)  



     A similar metamorphosis takes place while I continue a discipline of painting and journaling to keep current in whatever medium I am working, whether it be glass, painting, or teaching.  These techniques keep me in my flow and become a habit.  Like exercise for the body, it helps me be limber and current in the present.  In painting I take the awareness of the instant and continue through to the next indicated step… no expectation, no outcome, no demand, only the feeling, or maybe the sound, no- the pull of the brush on the paper, pulling me into a language that I speak in that moment.   Ordinarily, a “no-show” rule applies to this process…I love to break this rule with the photos directly above and below.


    The same goes toward my journaling, a stream of consciousness with no care for vocabulary or punctuation, only a flow that comes through the action and brings me into the moment, which is gone as I write the word.    A “no read” rule protects me from the constant editor of my mind.


    In September, 2009 I started teaching at Providence School in the Ventura County Probation Juvenile Facilities, Oxnard.  I had created a curriculum using the above-mentioned tools of painting and journaling.  Through the techniques I shared with the kids, we not only developed the use of creativity in our practice, but also a relationship with each other was sparked and deepened.  Fostering trust and sharing, we learned what it is inside that wants to get outside onto the page.  Slowly and apparently through these actions of expression, I watched the development of self esteem.  This class was a success in the facility.   In this environment, color, brush, and paper lead the artist into his own process as the painting above shows.  I also gave out journals and ask the artists to keep the words flowing when they were outside of the class.  Again, the “no read” rule applies, yet many of the participants had been compelled to share and ask me to read the fruits of their thought process.  With no comments and no critique, I was invited into their inner world.


    I watched these artists in their courage and I am still amazed as I remember seeing how they bared their souls to themselves.  An experience that cannot be repeated ever, a moment that is recorded in a brush stroke or a negative space, at first a choice, and then that moment is gone!  In one case gone over for a second layer, because the artist didn’t like what he started.   I watched him build many layers as he finally gave in to a painting that he felt was finished.  It holds up a mirror to life, as our past choices are refined and transformed through the determination to follow our insights.


    I remember how one artist was working out his drug addiction with paint on paper.  It takes a backbone of steel to sit for almost two hours and dip those emotions into paint and lay them down on the page:






    Another aspiring young artist, filled to the brim with ideas, was finally ready to let go of painting his name over and over.   I challenged him one day to not use his name; in the first two paintings after the challenge his initials sufficed.  From that point on it was almost as if a surge of energy grabbed him and he began powering his paintings through his imagination with whirlwind emotion:






    One of my favorite incidents is the case of an artist who didn’t say one word to me for weeks.   He slowly painted many cloudy skies and storms.  His paintings began to include scenes of houses and playgrounds.  His first quiet words were spoken as he painted the sun coming up through another cloud, a last-minute addition to a seemingly finished piece.




    I share this story as I move to a new chapter in my life.   I recently heard someone say “grab the love that is given from the unexpected places”.   I am and always will be so grateful to the guys in Wheeler 1 for sharing their lives with me and showing me love at a time when I needed it most- and didn’t realize it until sharing this with you now.  
    Thank you.
    And guys….if you are seeing your work here and you are 18 years of age….contact me please.  I would love to give you credit!

    Doctor di Peste-Plague Doctor

                         
    Reflect the plague-Reflect the fear-Reflect the death
    I have not succumbed.  My reasoning comes in bits and pieces.
    I was born on Burano.  My entire island was condemned for the Plague- I will never forget approaching the boat as my grandmother handed me a package through the means of a long stick.  “Burn the outer package.  The rest has not been touched”, she cried, and sank back into the burning island along with the rest of my family and hoards of victims.
    Rowing to Murano I thought of family I had just left in the billowing inferno.  I was so sad.  I was angry.  I felt helpless.  I met an American glass artist Teal Rowe.  Her Italian was broken and I think she had trouble understanding me through my terror yet she kept insisting it was because of the Burano dialect.  She was working on making beads “mille fiore” (millions of flowers), she had bright colors, she listened to my sadness understanding my grief.  I used the fire of her torch to burn the wrapping of the package my grandmother had given me.  Inside a metal box was the lace my grandmother had created with her own hands.  Not touched by the plague.  Touched by grandmother.  Each thread had been spun, each knot wrapped by the tips of her smooth delicate fingers.  I was delighted to have these strips of lace, these memories of my roots in Burano.  The dark reflections of what affect this disease had on my family became brighter.  Through the time and colors I realized I wanted to go to Venice.  Upon departure Teal gave me a silk bag, “Open this later”, and walked away.  I could not wait.  I stopped rowing long enough to untie the satin cord and peek into the beautiful mille fiore beads that had absorbed all of the horrendous visions of my experiences.  She had given me these bright reflections.
    I was a stranger to this huge city of Venice.  I decided to focus on one thing.  I studied, I dug deep into the history of the plague, into darkness, into the terror of societies, animals, families, and individuals.  I became a doctor.  Doctor di Peste.  I reflect the plague.  I reflect the fear.  I reflect death.
    I am a reflection of brightness.

    Hello Everyone!
    I want to give you the “heads up” that I am heading to Corning, NY.
    I will be teaching glassblowing/sculpting at the 
    Corning Museum of Glass
    www.cmog.org


    My showroom in Ojai will be open by appointment (805-646-4605) until April 16.
    I have many earrings, solid core sculpture, and blown pieces.
    I wanted to put this out especially to the people I think are wanting a piece, but putting it off…..


    If you want the paintbrushes or earrings they are well stocked by Karin at  Calais & Co
    212-B E. Ojai Ave.
    805-640-0994


    After April 16 my favorite form of communication will be e-mail…pictures on this blog and you can always see me on facebook.


    I thank you for every single word, thought, and action of support you have given me along the way.  I am really looking forward to this next step.
    Best to you,
    Teal