Wednesday, July 31, 2013


That is the  best way to clean.  Trips to the dump.  I built this shop over twenty years ago and the office was adjacent to my welding area.  All the grinding and debris could easily penetrate into my office.  Almost four years ago I separated my studio space from the shop but at that time did nothing with the office.  It has never even been properly painted, just primed and I moved in... over 20 years ago!
   The fire has given me an opportunity to do what I should have done years ago, a thorough cleaning!
This involves trips to the dump!  A ruthless sorting and getting rid of stuff.

The studio, a 10'x20' space I created about four years ago
is pretty much back together but until I get the office emptied
What to say?  I am a welder!
it will become a dumping ground for things I may want.
Some of cleaning and painting is a process of moving things
around.  Eventually all will find a home or it is off to the dump!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Phoenix !

We all rise from obstacles, inconveniences and ashes.  Dust ourselves off and get on with the process of living.  Having been a contractor for  over 35 years I know that huge messy jobs get divided into smaller more manageable tasks and get completed one obstacle at a time.  I emptied my studio, swept first, the floor and the walls and the ceiling.  Then vacuum , then mop, then paint.  Now already I am putting it back together.  I will reseal the floor but wait until everything is done.  I am going to empty my office, a 10'x10' room that over the years has become a "catch-all" , full floor to ceiling of things I might need!  I don't even know what is in here!
In the meantime I have power washed the outside, pulled two of the three blueberry plants out, radically trimming the remaining one which had some green leaves remaining.  The bamboo is also radically cut back but I am not worried about it.  Bamboo is difficult to kill.  Then I tilled up the soil and added about 6" of great compost based potting soil.  It is ready, like a blank canvas.  I radically cut back the Jasmine also and think it will live.  I removed two blueberries but am thinking I have room for three new plants!  So that will be a bonus.  I have wanted to improve the sprinkler system in this area for a long time so I did that too!  I made one huge truckload of debris to the recycle yard and that is where I picked up the compost potting soil.  It all looks "brand new"!  It will probably be a couple years before the new plants produce many berries.  The time to plant is in the Fall, October through March.  In the meantime I will plant a winter crop of broccoli there.  The ground with its perfect drainage will not go to waste.
I got a little welding job so I will now take a break from this clean up and have some fun.  Then I will attack this room, my office that has never been painted!  Then the shop itself.  It has been over two years since I have done that and bits and pieces accumulate, it seems as if by magic in the middle of the night!  I wonder what is in there?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Good and the Bad and The Ugly

OK, so I stole the tile but I am trying to find some good from the ugly fire I had.  The saddest thing is the loss of my Blueberry plants, five years of nurturing them gone to pretty much ashes.  Over five feet tall and almost as wide and producing abundantly.  At least I got this year's pickings, so that is a plus.
"What happened?" you might ask as I am still asking that question.  A five gallon container of gas, about 2/3 full and next to it oil soaked rags, the perfect combination.  Call me an idiot, I am still doing that.
On "my list" yesterday morning, get rid of the gags and put the gas can away, safe away from the shop in a little outbuilding where it belonged.  On my list, but first was a stop for lunch.  Big mistake.
After lunch on my way to my shop, all of 100 feet in my backyard, I see a wall of flames about 20' into the air.  Flames caressing the eaves to my shop roof!  I ran, yes, ran to the pool, as close as I could get, turned on the garden hose and watered the fire as it laughed at me.  Dancing and yelling and screaming and hot, the water from the hose was a joke.  My efforts as a fireman were doing nothing to the flames so I changed tactics and sprayed the eaves and the roof where the fire had every intention of going.  I heard sirens and within three minutes I had eight fireman in my backyard, two fire trucks, the big hook and ladder type and an ambulance in the front of my house.  It was funny, they were admiring my little swimming (half lap only) pool and looking at my metal work!  The fire was like a chimney, about five feet in diameter and maybe 10 feet tall, but roaring.  No one got excited.  Two of them went to the street and returned with large fire extinguishers and proceeded to empty them on this burning inferno.  Pretty much nothing happened.  I was told to stand back and relinquish my weapon.  I didn't have time to explain the "stand your ground" laws as they took the garden hose from my hands and told me to move away!  I don't think they were armed but they were suited up for a fight, covered head to toe in firegear and ready to do battle.  I moved back as instructed.  Two other firemen were snaking 150 feet of firehose, much bigger than mine!
My reaction really would have been to just let the fire burn out.  I had saved the roof, well, maybe, maybe not.  Anything could happen.  You could see right through the gas can by now and clearly there was a couple gallons still in it.  "They only blow up in the movies," the fireman with the nozzle said as he turned on this humongously large water hose and everything went flying!  Tons of instant water and, sending the gas can flying, a wall of flame like I have never seen before!  Maybe 20 feet long and, like a tunnel of flame, five feet wide and ten feet tall, towards my studio and right along the blueberry plants!  Maybe, just two seconds but they were flames of hell, followed by a wall of water and it was out.  Just like that.  Faster than a microwave!  The blueberries suffered a death blow from which they will never recover.  That is the ugly.  I love my garden and feel responsible for its care.  I will take them out this weekend.  Looking in that direction, once one of the nicest views, is now depressing.
My studio door was open  as was the door to my office and all the smoke and there was tons of it, found its way there.  Leaving traces, like little powdery angel dust all over everything!
So, I get to paint my studio!  That is the good, I guess.  It is empty now and the floors are swept and mopped.  Art is off the wall. A little smoky smell is good, right?  Like art around a campfire!  Anyway, tomorrow I will paint and when that is done, attack the office.  Emptying it 100% and cleaning, mopping and painting there also!  I built this office over 20 years ago and it has never been painted!
 Roasted Blueberries?
 My view from my studio!
Now is a good time.
 The ivy is green in the background. That is one tough plant!
 The gas can and the fire was mostly on top of this table.
No one was hurt, my tomatoes are safe.  I get to clean and polish and paint and organize, so that will be the good that will come of this!  At least I finished painting the house before this happened. Timing is everything!
 The leaves are supposed to be green!

Friday, July 19, 2013

You say "Tomato", I say

 Well over a hundred of these flowers on the Trumpet Vine!
This one is grown in a six gallon pot!
You gotta be a millionaire or do it yourself! 
Tomato!  Oh man, I feel rich this time of year!  My house is painted!  I am done with the spraying part anyway and have the white trim to go.  I am in no hurry and will do it one section at a time, the same way I got the house painted.  I had to look at this job in bits and pieces because the whole project would have become overwhelming.  I would just say to myself, "today I just have to paint one wall" and eventually I met myself at the beginning where I began.
Trumpet Vine Entry to my garden
This one might get eaten today!
I spend every morning in my garden, a little weeding every day and that too does not become a big job.  I think this year will be a bumper year for the garden.  We had a pretty nice Spring and I have been eating tomatoes since June 25th, the earliest ever.  Now the "Big Ones" are ripening!  These are the one pounders from all varieties:  Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, my two favorites, and Lemon Boy, Brandy Wine and others that I have forgotten their names.  I save the seeds from season to season and each year they get bigger and better and healthier. I can't imagine a summer without homegrown tomatoes and I wonder how we got fooled into accepting store bought tomatoes?
 Getting Bigger every day!
 My garden pool where I go skinny dipping!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

There is only ONE

 It is ART, right? You gotta have places to mix paint and put the yogurt cups!
The old wood decking has five coats of urethane sealer on it.
Three in a row!  Pedestals designed for flower pots.
 2 x 6 cedar from an old deck, no rot just weathered and old.
Make a great garden table, a place to put the bounty picked from the garden. 
 Steel covered in slate flower pot. I like these and wouldn't mind keeping this one.
 I have these all over my garden, slate on steel, a place
to put my coffee, the clippers, or something just picked.
The cucumbers use them for a trellis. I admit I make a
lot of these and sell them from $15 to $45, depending on size.
Almost everything I do, there is only one of.  I find bits and pieces, interesting steel or a piece of wood and set them aside until they call me.  Most of my art is useful, decorative, unusual, but you can sit on it, use it for a table or allow the plants to grow around it.  Here are some recent pieces:
An Oak plank about 3 feet long with 100 year old iron castings.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Life is Fantacy!

After rereading my last few blogs I realize that life is fantacy.   We never see anything or anyone or any situation standing by itself.  Our view of life is clouded by the lense of our vision.  We filter everything, we bring expectation, our very perception changes everything.
   I could have made "in-fill art", little easy to carry baubles, shiny  things  to catch a passing fancy.  I can make fairies too.  For me the problem began months ago when I was first invited to this show and requested that I send a CD of my pieces I intended to bring.  I don't have an inventory;  I don't have boxes of butterflies nor any standard repeated product.  When I do an art  show I create specific pieces just for that show.  It is a one time event and they are one of a kind creation.  If for some reason something doesn't sell it then comes back to my garden/studio and finds a home here.  Under no circumstances does it return to another show.
   I did produce a list, an inventory of 31 items I intended to bring and I mentioned this was two pickup loads of work.  I suspect the accounting department got this list as they were mostly interested in the itemized pricing, an accounting of their 30%.  The production people, the choreographers of this event had no clue as to what I was bringing.   What we had here was a failure to communicate.  So sad in this era of instant communication.
   I actually feel emancipated.   Three days/nights of this show, a day to move in and a day to move out is exhausting.  My studio and gardens are looking good and I have very seldom actually had an inventory here for clients to actually purchase.  So, good things have come from this experience.  I will start taking pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Did Not Do It!!!

At the very last minute, two trucks loaded to the gills, I went past the entry gates, got my passes and paperwork completed and I kept on driving right out of the park!  What happened?  I don't really know, a lot of deja vu, seeing the same displays as last year, the very same dragons and fairies, everyone setting up as vendors selling the very same wares as last year.  Reality clashed hard with my anticipation and in an instant my fantasy imploded.
   I did Home Shows for 25 years, twice a year, the Fall and the Spring Show.  I had a policy of never, and I mean absolutely never, bringing the same stuff back to a show.  From season to season and year to year I never repeated myself and tried my best to outdo the previous show.  Always dealing with the issue of how to make the next show better than the last.  I developed a "following", loyal customers and curious attendees who came by just to see what I was up to that year.  That to me is what shows of this type should be about.  The progression of an artist.
   As I am driving my truck with my friend behind me past the areas of deployment, seeing the displays, I thought I was driving the aisles of Walmart and was reminded of why people hate Home Shows and the row after row of Hot Tubs and window displays, everything too much the same as last year.
    There is always, although it has never happened before, a single  incidence to abruptly pulling out of
a show and for me it was to discover that I was not allotted a space at all, not even a place to unload my two trucks!  This was literally two tons of steel and slate creations that I was expected to scatter as in fill, willy nilly around this two acre site.  Yes, I discover they want me, they want my art pieces, they want the 30% commission and extra sales for their coffers, but no, they don't have an area for me
and I am expected to drag my art all over the park.  No method to connect my art to me, no station to talk with potential clients.  That was it.  I left.
  Today I will unload my truck here at my studio and garden and make it look as pretty as I can.  At least there will be lots to see as customers drop by to discuss a project.
   Temperamental artist.  Yes.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Move In Day!

Move in day is stressful and anticlimactic.  My scheduled time is 2:30 in the afternoon and since I am a morning person and it will be close to 90 degrees, I am not looking forward to it.  More hours to stress before "The Show".  My truck is loaded and a friend will drop by at noon and we will load his truck, go out to lunch and to the Garden Show for unloading.  I have done hundreds of these in my life and have a check list, but each time is like the very first time.  I really shouldn't worry because the Maude Kerns art people are truly professionals and this is their 30th time they have put on this show.  I know from my experience last year that I can pretty much dump off my stuff and come back a couple hours later and it will be perfectly choreographed and decorated with hundreds of flowers.  They call it "garden art" for a reason and they are professionals.
   The entire "Art in the Vineyard" is huge encompassing the entire City Park and covering many acres.
It will draw over 75,000 paying visitors and hundreds of Artists from all over the Northwest.  You can rent your own booth and man it and keep the proceeds of your sales or you can do what some of us do,
display your wares in a communal setting.  The "Art People" do the sales, decorate and make everything look like a wonderland and the artist does not have to be there for all the hours of the show.
We pay a commission for this but it is like hiring a team of professionals and a whole theater cast crew for a pittance.  My art looks better surrounded by other's art and the entire couple acres, the "Art in the Garden" section is a walkable wonderland.  I really have nothing to worry about, just the hours between now and then.
   I keep saying that this is my last show.  I have said that for over five years now, yet I keep coming back.  I really like them, like my stuff and me on display, the anticipation and stage fright.  I like watching the audience, people as they move about this theater and I wonder whether they realize how much work from all of the Artists and Production Crew went into this event?  Some people will look at every piece and other's will walk right past not giving it a glance.  I think that is why I like making one of a kind art, pieces and concepts not seen before.  Still some will walk right past and not even see it.