What are some of your special talents?
I like to think I am pretty evenly balanced between being left-brained and right-brained.
One might be either predominantly left-brained or right-brained, meaning that one side of the brain is dominant. If you’re mostly analytical and methodical in your thinking, you could be left-brained. If you tend to be more creative or artistic, you could be right-brained. Of course, you use both sides of your brain all the time. The idea is that you tend to be one way most of the time.
I once did some consulting work. I was part of a team that was hired to develop some training materials. I think there were about 5 of us. One was a writer and teacher. Another had a PhD and I think was in charge of the team. Two others had various jobs that I don’t remember. I was hired to set up the computers and get things up and running. One time, a discussion with the team came up between being left-brained or right-brained. The writer thought that I was “over-the-top” left-brained. Well, I was in that situation. But I reminded him that I often created artistic products, sculptures, illustrations and that type of thing.
I have always been a little talented at art. My sister Judy has always been way more talented than me, but I would say that I am a bit more talented than the average person. During junior high and high school, when I should have been developing my artistic skills more, I was diverted by school counselors into more academic or professional pursuits. This is a shame because I think I could have been a much better artist if I had been given some encouragement.
I dabbled at being creative over the years, but it wasn’t till we moved to Bever Circle in 2003 that I got involved with sculpture. My brother-in-law accidentally knocked over a long unused gas light next to our driveway that functioned as our address marker. I asked Karen if she would like me to make a more sculptural one. She said yes. Over the years I had worked at places that gave me some experience with metal fabrication so I had some background in how to proceed. I enrolled in an elementary course in artistic welding at the local community college. Over the term I fabricated the pieces for the address marker and welded some of the sub-assemblies together. After that I got myself a welder and finished the piece. It now stands at the foot of our driveway, just about where the previous marker was, but farther away from the drive so it doesn’t get run over.
This started a period of sculpture making which is now fairly dormant due to not being able to stand for a prolonged period anymore. While I completed and sold a number of elaborate sculptures, I had the best luck with producing inexpensive garden pieces. Ones my wife Karen and I collaborated on.
I have usually considered myself competent rather than talented but I do have a few things I am proud of. One of the things I particularly enjoy is container gardening. When we moved to our house on Bever Circle, I loved everything about our lot. It had beautiful big trees, lovely shade, and big beds of hostas. What it didn’t have was enough sunny spots to grow flowers. I had always planted perennials and annuals in colorful beds at our previous house on Mansfield Avenue. If I wanted to grow things in our new house it had to be in containers. Over the years I have experimented with plants that will bring some color to our shady deck and our view through our big windows. Over time, I have settled on plants with bright leaves and interesting shapes and textures. I have used the formula of “thrillers, fillers, and spillers” to create interesting arrangements that complete the pots. I often mix interesting objects in with the plants to make arrangements that make me smile when I go outside or glance out a window.
Another of my interests is glass fusing. My friend, Lynne Carlson suggested that the two of us take a class at the Iowa Ceramic and GlassCenter in the Cherry Building here in Cedar Rapids. After a few sessions the two of us were hooked. We learned to cut beautiful pieces of specially formulated colorful glass, create pleasing designs, and fuse them together in a kiln. The process actually melts the pieces of glass together so that they are a new material.
It is definitely not an inexpensive hobby. Most pieces of glass are sold in 12″ squares and range in price from $14 to $33 per square. There are also costs for fusing the items you make in the kiln or slumping your pieces in molds to create plates, bowls, or art pieces. Of course there are also special tools such as glass cutters, breaking pliers, and circle cutters as well as specialty products like Frits (small chunks of glass) powders (finely ground glass) and long thin pieces called stringers and noodles. All of which are necessities for avid glass fusers. Still, it has been very rewarding to make beautiful objects for our home, gifts for friends and family, and even pieces that have sold from local shops and shows.
Butch and I even collaborated for a while by combining his skills in welding and metal work with my fused glass pieces to make yard art. For three or four years we made pieces of yard art that we sold at the local Brucemore Art and Garden Show.
My most substantial and ambitious piece was made for my sister Sue. She and her roommate, Patty, built a new house and wanted a large piece of art to hang near their front door. They wanted something that would be somewhat of a show stopper for guests who came to visit. I created a piece that incorporated the colors they loved and that showcased the reflections, transparency, intense color, and beauty of the medium of glass. I am very proud of it and glad that they have a piece I made in their home.
This post is part of the StoryWorth project that I am participating in.
At the ButchieBoy main page click the “StoryWorth” category to see the rest of the entries.