THE STORY OF AN AESTHETIC

 

The following are some of the most loved things around here.  Stuff that shows its history is most meaningful.  Ghosts of things.  Things that have BEEN places and in others’ hands.  This little desk was in an old barn made of railroad car wood and was on the property Glenn bought in 1974.  It sat in that barn until my discovery in 2008.  I love it.  It has no drawer, but who cares?

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The little black hoof-like feet are original.  Just had to take a picture of it on the piazza we are laying.

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Some child, at some time, made stars.  We preserved them.

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Found this old aluminum lawn chair in a dumpster.  It had been painted many colors in its life.  Used a tool and dug into the last paint job, the black, and revealed other colors as I chose.  Then it was protected with a thick “varnish” for metal.  Where to put it?  The decision wasn’t difficult.  I have had this amazing ceramic piece for decades.  They were made for each other.

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The following two pictures are not very good, but they illustrate how I added color to the walls of my home when renovating, and how color is discovered in my sculptural work.  Above with the lawn chair, the same thing was done.  Scrape or sand away layers of color to reveal the color history of the thing.  This house was built in 1939 and a lot of life has taken place here.  I let it show.

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Below is the back of the house just after we moved it to our acreage.

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So, it makes sense that my aesthetic should one that celebrates the history of a thing.  The Japanese call it wabi.  Or sabi.

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EARTH DAY AND WASTE AS A WAY OF LIFE

http://www.bluefishdigest.com/Blue_Fish_Digest/Welcome_to_Blue_Fish.html

Who knew?  Living on a budget because most artists have to, and to have to value creativity as an asset instead of money, does celebrating Earth Day elevate this?  Synchronicity is fabulous when one runs into it.

I remember the first Earth Day,  sadly being that old.  1970.  Another reference said 1978, but I don’t think so.  Remember the Whole Earth Catalog?

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Looking at this cover and the subheading of  “access to tools”,  it was.  But it was so much more.  1969!  First published a year after the “Crack in Time” of the year 1968, things were definitely shifting.

inside whole earth

Steve Jobs said that the “Whole Earth Catalog”  was the predecessor to the internet;  he was just out of the garage by then.   Buckie Fuller became famous through it.  And those of us who were around remember the cheap paper the catalog was printed on, just like we remember Mr. Natural and “trucking on down the line”.

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Those were the days, my friend.  Go back and click on the link at the beginning of this post.  This is where I ended up.  Click on “current issue” and go to page 24.

AT LAST

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Today is the day.  After a year of looking at the unfinished mess of a shower in our new bathroom, grouting in earnest starts.  Why so delinquent with this effort?  A year ago, I knew what the result would look like.  And it was what was projected.  So I lost interest.

An argument can be made that an artist makes her work simply to see the end result.  And to kind of lift one’s leg to the nearest tree.  Prove that she has been in the area.

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It is impossible to photograph this shower, as you cannot get far enough away from it.  The prone position doesn’t help much.  Most of the lady on the left was grouted a long time ago.

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After the shower floor, just grouted  today, I will take a charcoal grout and apply it around the dark lines defining the bodies.  It is already done in the lady to the left in the previous picture.

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And the horizon lines on each panel will be charcoal.  Simple, elementary, rudimentary.

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Of course, all my materials are free, save for the tile mortar and grout.  The white tiles above are remnants of an old project of Glenn’s.  The little glass tiles in the two inch space were bravely saved for me by a designer, from a construction worker who was pitching them.  I cringe to think of all the waste in the world!

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Above is today’s work, and no more can be done until this dries.  This shower base is made of portland cement, is carefully sculpted down to the drain from each wall.  This tile is porcelain and not having a wet saw to cut it, I simply broke the tile near the drain and filled in.  These floors require a lot of finesse.  I hate that big line in the center left.

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Gorgeous today, and considering my drying shower base, I am going to work on the piazza.

MAKING A PIAZZA

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Around here, these are called  “Charleston bricks”.  Have no idea as to why.  Must be a small town South Carolina reference to the largest and oldest town around here created from bricks and cobblestones.

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Last year, we began the piazza and then went on to other things.  Bricks came into our life again and we attacked the old project with gusto.

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Glenn has created two brick pathways that strike out against the otherwise linear pattern of the piazza.

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Working with bricks is so simple here in the Low Country of South Carolina.  Our ground does not freeze, and our soil is mostly sand.

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We modify the lay of the work area with a box blade.   The sand in our driveway is virgin like beach sand and we mix it 2 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement.  Set the bricks, and let it rain, or water them.

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Looking for a picture in my library that shows our sandy soil, I settled on this one, which features details other than the sand.  This is our house, hovering on rails, having been moved three miles.  Trenches are dug in the sand for the foundation block to go in, the next step in renovation.  The charcoal smudge in the foreground is what was left from an old burn pile.

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At the left of the foreground of this image is a poured 1/2 basketball court.  The piazza will attach to that.

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One edge of the “internal” brick path on this side has been measured out.

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And now almost filled in.  More discussions of brick:

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/practical-addi…outdoor-shower/

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/more-bricks/

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/gliders-and-bricks/

A LOOK AT RETIREMENT

Do you remember the old PBS series “A Year in Provence“?  Lush and beautiful, bursting with eccentric French characters, and featuring a never-ending search for truffles, it was a guide to living life. To renovate an ancient farmhouse and gardens, eat simple food and wine, a couple left their high stress jobs in London and took a year off in Provence.  One review says that it examines “life lived by seasons, not by days”.

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That last statement suits me perfectly.  And did in the late eighties when we were watching the series.  Easy to do, I thought, if one was independently wealthy.  How could you pursue all this elegant living and creating without money?  The series on PBS was based on Peter’s Mayle’s experience,  an erstwhile advertising executive of London who took a year “off”.  Something else nagged at me.  How would they ever go back to London?

From another review:

If Mayle had had his way, the description of A Year in Provence as fiction would have been spot on. “When we first moved to France [in 1987] I had the intention of writing a novel and had shared this great ambition with my agent, Abner Stein,” says Mayle. “But there was a problem: I found myself completely distracted – much more taken up with the curiosities of life in Provence than with getting down to work on the novel. The daily dose of education I was receiving at the hands of the plumber, the farmer next door, the mushroom hunter and the lady with the frustrated donkey was infinitely more fascinating than anything I could invent.”  And so a travel book was born.

It makes me wonder if we (the educated, the observers, the type A personalities) have it at all correct.  Mayle’s book challenges us.

Strangely, minus the exotic location, we are pursuing the same goals (except for the cooking food part) to create, be outdoors, love the simple, enjoy the work.  And, as always, get stuff for free or little money to achieve our goals.  And as Peter Mayle enjoyed his neighbors and substituted simple goals for the more abstract, so have we.

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Yesterday was cinder block day.  We took what we needed from a friend whose job it is to tear down buildings.  The cinder blocks would cost him money to place in the dump.  We needed a floor for our silo, which is ready to be moved to house our pool pump.  Done and done.

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A huge tree had to be removed to facilitate this move for the silo.  Glenn and I took care of most of it, and then a pro, who we have been trading firewood for labor for years, came in to finish the job.  He asked for 75.00 and settled for nothing.  He wanted the fresh oak wood.  Win/win.

Last week it was bricks.  Broken bricks are free, whole bricks at a very good price.

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These bricks we will add to those in front of the barn.  Starting today.

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The longer that we live inside our monthly earnings, the more we have to use for travel.  Like to Provence.

MORE BRICKS

I love old bricks without holes.  Here in South Carolina, they are just too easy to lay with our sandy soil and our lack of ground freeze in the winter.  I love they way they make one notice the undulation of the ground.  It looks ancient to me.

Glenn is now outside laying bricks.  He has caught the fever.  Added to my lazy brick vignettes all over our acreage, his unremitting craftsmanship and use of (my gawd) an angle grinder to cut just the right shape, will be a massive piazza outside our barn.  Of course, part of his consideration is that our big vehicles have to be able to be supported by the bricks.  My biggest consideration when laying is “will Creeping Betty have enough room to take root in these cracks?”.

Not that Glenn is unfamiliar with these bricks.  At least three pick up truckloads were full of bricks for just this purpose when he migrated  here.   We gave the sagging economy a big shot in the arm that summer.   Last week we bought a thousand at a very good price from the site of a building demolished near here in North.  Yes, North, South Carolina.  I know.

We also just bought twenty tons of sand mixed with clay to sculpt the area outside the barn, raise it a little higher and connect it to a small pad for basketball that was laid last summer.  Below, the stuff is in the process of being pushed around.

The sand plus clay is really this color.  It is quite beautiful.  The biggest doors on the front of the barn are to the right of the image, and the basketball pad is to the left.  Glenn had far too much fun with his box blade.

So Glenn has started around his studio door, created a little space for my Sky Pencil and the brick pathway out of the door is building.  What he is going to do is undulate the pathway within the larger shape of the piazza.  Think of it as a decisive little current within a bigger body of water.  That is the image I get from his description.

So I am sorry for those of you not in the South when it comes to laying brick on the ground.  All we do is level the ground, place the brick, get anal with angle grinders if you so wish, and you are almost done.  You then go out to your driveway, which is the former bottom of an ancient ocean, get a shovelful of sand, and dump it on the brick you placed.  Shuffle around, sweep, water, and there you go.  It is all so fine!

Stay tuned.