Sunday, January 2, 2011

Welcome To My Workshop: 2011

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out. Well, actually, it was firecrackers and sky rockets celebrating New Years. And now, here it is January 2, 2011, already. For me, it’s a new year with new ideas, new arts & crafts, and new things happening…, and both of us here have colds. Ugh!

But I refuse to let it get me down. I still spent a day in the studio, trying to get as much done as possible before my two weeks of intensive education at Cabrillo College. I’m taking an extension course on Lighting/Warm Glass. As the Cabrillo blurb says, “…a 2-week intensive course [for]students of any level--beginning to advanced--will learn the construction of working light fixtures and table lamps utilizing a variety of materials. By the end of the course you'll have a working light source of your own design. The course will cover beginning and intermediate techniques for fusing and slumping glass, safety, wiring, types of lighting, bulbs (Incandescent, Halogen, LED, Low Voltage, EL Wire, etc.), You'll have an opportunity to work in metal, wood, glass, paper, mica and found objects. Instruction will include: hot and cold metal forging, welding, soldering, patination, glass cutting, layering, drilling and grinding.” I’m looking forward to it, and hope to design and build a medieval style chandelier for our dining room.

Our colds are probably the result of our Christmas vacation in San Francisco. We spent time around a lot of people in museums and the crowds around Union Square and the stores there. Our first day in the City was spent at the DeYoung Museum, where we got to see the Musée d’Orsay Post Impressionist exhibit. Being face-to-face with VanGogh’s “Starry Night on the Rhone” was breath taking, as was many of the great and wonderful paintings by Gauguin, Cezanne, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Unfortunately, the place was incredibly crowded (cough, cough), but we wormed our way through to see everything.

Ron at Hotel Rex Lobby BarWe stayed at a really nice boutique hotel called the Hotel Rex. We ate at a really nice French restaurant there a couple of times (it’s closed now) and always thought it would be nice to stay there. For our San Francisco Christmas, I was not only able to get a room, but we were upgraded to a lovely fifth floor “executive queen” room that was large and included a nice comfy sofa. The windows looked out the back of the hotel onto a nice interior garden space. Lovely!

Old City of Paris Dome in N-MarcusOn Christmas Eve, we toured the stores around Union Square. My wife found a great custom yarn store that spun and dyed all their own yarns, and a huge fabric store where we both found some items to bring home. Later we went into the “regular” stores, including Neiman-Marcus, where the great “City of Paris” stained glass dome still resides. The original City of Paris was built in the late 1800s and was partially destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. It was rebuilt, with the huge rotunda dome, in 1910. Unfortunately, the wonderful old building was torn down and a non-descript “mall-looking” Neiman-Marcus built in its place. Only the rotunda and dome remains from the original.

On Christmas day, Chinatown was hopping. Almost all the stores were open. You could even get a haircut there if you wanted to on Christmas. It was a rainy day, but we bundled up and walked through Chinatown into North Beach and back. Across from the Chinatown gate is a wonderful French restaurant, Café de la Presse, where we stopped for lunch, then back again the next morning for breakfast. We got a little chilled and wet that morning, which probably helped us get our colds.

Ron at SFMOMA Wine exhibitThe day after Christmas we walked down to the Ferry Building and walked around as all the shops were opening up. We then walked back up Market Street and cut over to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Not at all as crowded as the DeYoung Museum, but just as fascinating. We spent a good four hours walking around viewing the huge collection of photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson, strange erotic and some disturbing photos on “Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870, an interesting exhibit called “How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now”, and great modern works in the museum’s collection for its 75th Anniversary show by Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Frida (Frieda) Kahlo, René Magritte, Jackson Pollock, Paul Klee, and Claus Oldenburg, and many others. Another breath taking excursion.

In the Studio

Ron Carving away2We haven’t been home that long, but I jumped right back into the studio to continue working on my pipe organ and box trestle table. Today, being the last day of the “holidays”, and before my two weeks at Cabrillo, I spent the whole day carving (and coughing) on the sides to the trestle table’s box. This table is my final and biggest piece I’m creating for the July woodworking show at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH). As I’ve mentioned before, this show will have many works by the members of the Santa Cruz Woodworkers. I finished carving one side and have three more to go, which I’ll have to take up next weekend and try to finish one more side.

The Chapter House Portative Organ is actually nearing completion. After 13 or 14 months, I have several parts ready for finishing with tung oil. A few days ago, I made a new organ pipe to replace one that was too short to tune properly. Unfortunately, my replacement didn’t work that well, so I ended up ripping more maple and made four more pipes, three that turned out great! I now have a full set of tuned pipes. Yes, I finally tuned them to a diatonic A Major scale. I also finally made the bellows, which I’ve been reluctant to do for months because I’ve never done anything like this before. They actually work!!!

So, tomorrow is a new chapter in my life: a new class at Cabrillo that might put me in a new artistic direction… or not. Who knows? Afterwards, its on to new and better instruments, furniture, carvings, and… who knows? My list of “things to do” keeps expanding. Oh, and…

Onward through the fog!

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