Sunday, May 25, 2014

Regarding Memorial Day ...

Korean War Memorial - Washington DC 

Iwo Jima Statue at Arlington Cemetery - Washington DC

Regarding Decoration Day:
I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.  ~Benjamin Harrison

Having just returned from a trip to Washington DC, I have been keenly aware of the many sacrifices made for the political and social stands that have made this country what it is today ... and I am grateful for every one of them. I came upon this quote that Vee used in her post on Memorial Day and so agreed with the sentiment expressed by President Harrison that I knew it must accompany these images. Thank you, Vee!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tattoo Haiku - Poetry Jam

Is it the rain or

your heart that beats so strongly

I trace your tattoo

It poured off and on this afternoon and I got to thinking about another time and place; rain on the roof can be such a romantic influence.

shared with other writers at Poetry Jam - check it. 

Image Credit : Photo by Nesty Ocampo  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Clara and Mr. Tiffany - Susan Vreeland

The next time you see a Tiffany lampshade or a mosaic design from Tiffany glassworks or the more ornate stained glass windows made by Louis Comfort Tiffany's glass design studios, think of Clara Driscoll and the host of women who worked in a closed department in turn of the century New York City. Tiffany was a creative force with deep pockets who strived to bring beauty and nature together through his glass studios. He encouraged creativity without worry about cost when his staff designed the glass windows, mosaics, and finally lampshades, boxes, and smaller interior design items. It was his undoing, as his cost overruns were notorious for pieces that were often times one of a kind items that required high price tags. The rich and forward thinking purchased, but for a good while, the growing middle class of the industrial America of the Gilded Age couldn't afford such extravagance.

Susan Vreeland has written an edifying book about this era of history, when art and nature were blended and brought to the American consumer. Louis Comfort Tiffany hired a large team of female artists that had been trained in art schools and craft programs throughout the US. As some of them came to New York, looking for work, he saw a need for 'a female touch' within his glass studios. He believed that women had a keener  and more nuanced eye for color selection and color blending in the intricate windows that his studio was producing, hence a career opportunity opened for these women. This was important, as most female jobs revolved around secretarial work, teaching, and helping professions (nursing, cleaning, cooking). Branching into the arts and artisan work was a real step forward.  Some women came into the glass studios as glass cutters, but advanced, as they developed an artistic feel for the images and the design process

Enter Clara Driscoll, a trained artist from the Midwest. Clara is a 'modern woman'. She is widowed when the story begins and has returned to Tiffany's studios to ask for her glass cutting job back, as she'd been required to resign when she married. The book follows her life, as she makes the adjustment to living in a boarding house with other artists and 'free thinkers' who encourage each others' creative ventures. She struggles with the double standard that allows male workers to marry, but forces female workers to remain single (or hide their personal relationships). She struggles with Tiffany's practice of taking the creative ideas of workers and not acknowledging their source or crediting the workers on the glass creations.

Clara was an extremely loyal employee and over the years, advanced to head the women's design and production studio. Her hunger for artistic release and talent for glass design kept her focused on her career. In Vreeland's book, we see her have semi-successful relationships with men that fizzle for various reasons (no spoilers, here), knock heads with male managers, bring along other young women who she brings to the studios for employment, and finally, come to terms with her business relationship with Louis C. Tiffany and his board of managers. Along the way, Vreeland uses Clara and her girls to teach the reader a lot about the intricacies of stained glass production and design.

Many of the windows and lamps written into the story are actual pieces that you can see in museums and collections world-wide by searching on-line. The work done by Clara and her Tiffany girls was stunningly beautiful and the story that tells us about these young artists is eye-opening. They blazed the way for women in manufacturing to rise above 'mill girl' status - important,  at a time of burgeoning women's rights issues and union/labor organizing.

Being an art fiend, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Others might be bogged down a bit by the passages that concentrate on the intricacies of glass design and glass cutting technique, but I was fascinated. Clara's life story was discreetly told and not overly romanticized, which was a positive for me, as I was more intrigued with the history of the story, the actual glass pieces and windows produced and how they fit into historical events of the Gilded Age.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Saturday Snapshot --- A Day Late, But Oh, So Pretty

Last week, I went to Washington DC for a short vacation. After spending a couple days on the National Mall with a million other tourists, I retreated to The National Portrait Gallery, which is a bit off the beaten path at the Gallerie Place Metro stop.  It was quiet and serene. I was all alone in many of the small gallery rooms and it was just what I needed. The benches were upholstered, the light soft and spotted on lovely art and the docents and security guards were amiable and soft-spoken.

This gallery of Deco era pieces was sublime. I wish I could have captured this image with more clarity, but you get the idea ... the La Farge windows are heavenly. I related immediately, as I have been reading Susan Vreeland's historical novel about Louis Tiffany and his shop of Tiffany girls directed by Clara Driscoll. La Farge was a competitor of Tiffany's during the early 1900's.

A painting from the same gallery ... why can't I make wreaths like this one ??? 

These snaps are being shared with others at Saturday Snapshot ... check out the other photos by clicking the link ...  here

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Saturday Snapshot - A Special Project

There's a whole lotta pink going on in this quilt face, despite the light that is making those dark squares look red. They are actually a deep magenta /claret color. This is that Irish Chain variation that I started a while back ...

The finished quilt is twin sized and will be displayed around town for the summer, as it is being donated to the church mission committee's summer benefit raffle for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Awareness Drive. We have lost some good friends to cancer over the years, so decided to get behind cancer research this June. Hopefully, the church members will form a walking team for the annual walk event for cancer research funds and we'll kick off the raffle to honor Vicki and Bev and Bobby and Wallace, dear friends that are gone from us, but remembered fondly.

... This is shared with others who are posting to Saturday Snapshot ... 
Hit the link to see the other posts


Friday, May 2, 2014

Ordinary Grace - William Kent Krueger

There is an old expression - 'little jugs have big ears'. It's meant to admonish adults about speaking too freely around youngsters. Children listen and hear, watch and see, and yes, they can be surprisingly astute in their assessment of what's going on in their worlds.

This tale that William Kent Krueger has written takes that expression and plays it well. The year is 1961. It's summertime in the small town of New Bremen, Minnesota. Frank Drum, the middle child of the local minister, is set for a summertime of following baseball, playing outside in the woods and along the rail line that runs through New Bremen, swimming in the local quarry, and fishing alongside the Minnesota River. His wanderings will bring him into contact with a cast of characters that display the width and breadth of the human condition - love-starved, loving, misunderstood, twisted, cruel, damaged, wise, innocent, intuitive, bitter, haunted, passionate, and questing. All these characters become embroiled in a patchwork of death and mystery that Frank will witness and ponder for the rest of his life.

In fact, the story is told by Frank at a time much later. He looks back on that summer and unravels the events with a mature sense of God's grace bestowed. No spoilers here ... the only thing I will say is that I loved the relationship that Frank had with his younger brother and the growth and understanding that Frank displays toward Jake. In contemplating that relationship, I came to think that it is Jake who is the central character of the story, the conduit of a display of God's grace that is so humbling and so pure ... that's all I have to say other than I liked this book tremendously.