Fri, Feb 16th, 2018 This commission begins with a story told by a grandfather to his granddaughter back in rural Ohio. As Karen told me, her grandfather grew up in Mesopotamia, OH in the 1920’s, and in a rare personal sharing, told her this story.
As a boy, he would go to a neighbor’s farm after school to help a woman tend her flower garden. Her grandfather’s dad was unhappy with the boy’s after school garden stops and wanted him home doing chores. The man forbids his son from stopping to help the woman garden. A defiant lover of flowers, the boy returned to help the woman against his father’s command. For that, he got a whopping from his dad he would never forget!
The gardener neighbor felt so bad about her little helper getting in trouble that she gave him a beautiful American Brilliant crystal cut vase. This beloved vase was in the family for dozens of years and ultimately passed down to Karen. By accident, the vase fell and broke into several pieces. Heartbroken, Karen held onto the shards, wanting to transform them into an art piece.
Fast forward several years, Karen meets me at the ArtJones Open Studio Tour here in Gulfport, FL. When she saw my work with stones & crushed glass, Karen knew she found the person and the medium that was just right for the metamorphosis of the crystal vase. She commissioned me to pull the roots of her grandfather’s story together and create a mural using her glass shards.
We began with a sketch that incorporates the feel of Ohio’s farmlands including bales of hay, Tiger Lilies, and a maple tree. As our theme is transformation, a dragonfly, which symbolizes change and an understanding of the deeper meaning of life, was needed in our composition. The clay tiles hold the original shape of the vase, but the crystal is transformed into a waterfall of crushed glass & light, streaming through the form.
During phase one the tiles were made, cut, carved, textured, and fired. Phase two brought the colors of Karen’s homeland onto the mural with a combination of blues & greens, tans, and ochres of the countryside. The final phase had two components. Local mosaic artist & sculptor Tom Pitzen interrupted his day working on a commission for Publix Corporation, to help cut the vase shards into manageable pieces. I completed the glass layout, framing and final application of the new art piece.
Assembly was complete and Karen was invited to 'place the vase shards' as she saw it. Together we completed the layout and my final phase was underway. In this art pices, crushed glass is a metaphor for water, symbolic of purity & circulation, In some traditions, water is an aspect of wisdom. Water, moving through the path of least resistance, speaks of a higher wisdom we all aspire to realize. For our purposes, the crushed glass cleanses and transforms the corset vase from its original form into an art piece that will stay with Karen and continue to bring joy into her heart!
Thank you, Karen, for this opportunity to be a part of your personal history and the transformation of your grandfather’s beloved vase.