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Responding to the Bereaved: Of Butterflies and Hope

Butterfly in Glass by Wayne Stratz
Butterfly in Glass by Wayne Stratz, commissioned for parents who lost a child to cancer.

Stratoz and I are going to be interviewed for the Northampton Magazine, about alumni accomplishments.  One of the questions we were asked to consider was how Northampton Community College(NCC) prepared us to run a business.  At first, I didn’t know how to answer this question because I never would’ve have imagined having my own business when I was at the college.

Then I remembered, when I was 19, I petitioned to take a newly created class at NCC called Responding to the Bereaved, which was restricted to Funeral Service Education students.  NCC decided to let me in, and there I sat with 10 men and one woman studying to become Funeral Directors, learning about the psychology of loss and bereavement. I took the class because I felt compelled to, in wanting to understand my own pain, but class was a response to the needs of the Funeral students, who wanted more understanding of their clients, who were in the midst of grief.

Some of the members of the class grappled with the material, arguing that they weren’t counselors, and did they need to know all this psychology, but they were willing to consider the possibility.  Their profession was important to them, their role of guide at a moment of disruption.  I felt out of place as the only outsider, significantly younger than most of the students and the only other woman, but I was struck by the importance of the relationship between the person serving and those being served, and by the stories of the student’s own losses that arose in class discussions.  I most likely told Stratoz, when I met him that same year, that I wanted to be a bereavement counselor.

Now here I am, 25 years later, with our business Nutmeg Designs, and the relationship between artist and client is what guides both Stratoz and myself in our work.  We respond to grief at times, when someone commissions art as a remembrance, a gesture of love and healing.  Stratoz created a butterfly mandala in stained glass, commissioned by the friend of a couple that lost a child to cancer.  There is sadness in such a request, and yet such care.  This couple in turn commissioned a butterfly piece for another couple who lost triplets, carrying the hope for healing from their hearts to others.

How we met(Stratoz’s version): Meeting Mosaic Woman

Commission Stratoz

Sophia Spiral by Wayne Stratz

A Sophia Spiral Mandala by Wayne Stratz: Growing into the Spiral of Ourselves

Sophia Spiral by Wayne Stratz
Sophia Spiral stained glass by Wayne Stratz.

 

Stratoz took this photo of one of his Sophia Spiral’s hanging in his studio window, late afternoon, with the sun glowing through the center of Youghiogheny glass.  Stained glass quickens with the light, and can catch us by surprise with colors we never saw before.  I’ll let Stratoz describe what goes into a Sophia Spiral Mandala:

I call the piece, A Sophia Spiral Mandala, which doesn’t just happen to have 21 pieces of glass. It has 21 pieces of glass because the design came to be after spending time with Sophia and a passage (The Book of Wisdom, chapter 7) that includes her 21 attributes:
22 For within her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, shrewd, 
23
 irresistible, beneficent, friendly to human beings, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits.
This week I decided to make a new mandala for our craft shows. I cut out four pieces of five types of blue green glass and than pulled out the Youghiogeny glass for the 21st. As I was writing a blurb to describe the mandala, it occurred to me what that 21st piece is. As we grow to know God in all images, we spiral into ourselves, and what we find is our true self. And there is nothing I can put in that location better than a piece of amazing glass from western Pennsylvania.

Stratoz from his blog post Sophia in Silence, Glass, Scripture and Hymn

 

In Stratozpheres Etsy Shop, you will find 21 coloring pages, named after the attributes of Sophia.

More orange goodness on my Orange Tuesdays Pinterest Board.

 

 

 

 

From One Piece of Youghiogheny Glass to Many: The Journey from the Factory to The Studios

Youghiogheny Glass. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Youghiogheny Glass. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Stratoz bought this amazing sheet of glass at the Youghiogheny Glass Factory in Western PA, and took this luminous photo before cutting it. Yes, he cut this beautiful thing. Some people just keep the sheets whole, like we discovered at the 401 Diner in Conshohocken.  The hostess seated us in a booth by a sheet of glass that looked remarkably like ours, and which we had put on our business card.

In spite of the twinge, I was delighted to receive the scraps Stratoz created in the process of making his stained glass designs.  The variation in color creates almost infinite possibilities.  A fellow pinner on Pinterest, Christopher McCullough, pastoral leader, architect and stained glass artist, wanted to know what we used this beauty in, and that started me looking.

 

Dove of the Holy Spirit by Wayne Stratz.
Dove of the Holy Spirit by Wayne Stratz.

The Holy Spirit. descending as as dove, for a minister to wear with her robe.

 

Tribute to Mark by Wayne Stratz.
Tribute to Mark by Wayne Stratz.

A tribute to a client’s dear friend and mentor.

For Japan, by Wayne Stratz.
For Japan, by Wayne Stratz.

A gift for a Japanese hermit and artist.

Joy Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs.
Joy Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs.

For client’s who look at this every morning at breakfast and feel joy.

Brooklyn Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs.
Brooklyn Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs.

A door sign representing a significant place in the client’s life.

Welcome Yellow Orange by Nutmeg Designs.
Welcome Yellow Orange by Nutmeg Designs.

A welcome to the home of a lovely family.

Joy Lotus Mandala by Nutmeg Designs.
Joy Lotus Mandala by Nutmeg Designs.

Bought by a woman named Joy, who fell in love with it.

 

Treble Clef by Nutmeg Designs.
Treble Clef by Nutmeg Designs.

Most recently, some scraps turned into a treble clef.

A to Z Challenge 2012: I is for Illumination

Stratozpheric Night Light by Wayne Stratz
Stratozpheric Night Light by Wayne Stratz

Illumination is to throw into the light.  I like the active tenor of this word.  Working with glass has made me aware of the importance of illumination in bringing the work fully alive.  Stratoz especially has challenges because he makes stained glass, and light is a kind of electricity that transforms the colors.  This is his first night light, and the beauty of such an object is its purpose to bring light.

More Orange Love at my Orange Tuesdays Pinterest Board.

Red Orange Starflower by Wayne Stratz

Welcoming Neighbors Home with a Red Orange Starflower by Wayne Stratz

Red Orange Starflower by Wayne Stratz
Red Orange Starflower by Wayne Stratz

Stratoz made a set of “welcome home” starflowers, in the order of the rainbow, for our 5 neighbors across the street who suffered a rowhouse fire in March of 2010, and finally all back in June of 2011.  We were both glad to see everyone home, after the scary evening when we woke up to screaming and smoke billowing from the house directly across from us.  One man had to jump from an attic window, but has healed and is back to work.  Over the course of a year, we watched the slow rebuilding, in fits and starts, from clearing out, to baking soda blasting the sooty bricks which made it look like a snowstorm in spring, to new windows, porches, doors.  To have everyone back is a delight.  And Stratoz’s imagination is a delight as well.  I am always amazed by his creativity and when he told me he planned to make a starflower  for each neighbor’s home, in rainbow order, from red-orange, to blue-violet, as a way to welcome everyone back, I was awed by the thoughtfulness of this gift. What house warming gift have your received that truly made you feel at home?   What was your favorite gift to give as welcome?

 

 

 

The Rainbow Connection and Gratitude that the Storm is Gone

Red Tail Rainbow Mosaic Mandala

Saturday it started to rain.  We were at the Skippack Spring Fest, in our tent, and started gathering up my mosaics and Stratoz's stained glass.  We had some twinges of anxiety, but most people seemed to be leaving their tents, and we were tired, and the tent was soggy, so we headed home.  We stopped at our favorite diner, West Main, in Lansdale for pie and coffee.  Seated in a booth by the window, I looked over and saw a rainbow.  I joked with Stratoz that it meant God would spare our tent. 

The verse from Genesis 9 is one I remember learning at church camp, from the story of Noah's ark, and God destroying the world by flood, but then putting the arc in the clouds as as sign of a covenant to never destroy all creatures by water again.  This spoke to me, in the midst of being depressed as a 14 year old, flooded with sadness.  The theme song of that summer was The Rainbow Connection, and even now I feel magic listening to it.

So here we were, on Saturday, looking at a rainbow, and my phone rings.  The storm came through, and some tents were damaged and could we please come check to see how our tent fared.  Stratoz dropped me off at home and headed back to Skippack.  He called after finding it in a heap.  Other tents were standing untouched but others were knocked over.  I came out and together we were able to fold the frame up, and put it in the car.  5 trusses were bent or broken.  Although exhausted, I felt gratitude that we were not in the tent when the storm came through, and our art wasn't in the tent either, and that we can get replacement parts. Stratoz said I was his sweetie, and that made me happy in the midst of the damage.  I'm not certain what to make of the rainbow at the diner.  The tent was not spared.  But we were. 

DSCN3408

From  Stratoz:  Elegant Cascading Rainbow Vine.

 

 

 

U is For Uroboros Glass

Uroborosimages Uroboros Glass, founded in 1973 by glass artist Eric Lovell, is based in Portland, OR, and turns ordinary sand into extraordinary art.  Here is how Lovell describes the origin of the name Uroboros:

Uroboros is an alchemist's term often represented by a dragon symbolizing the cyclical Nature of the Universe. The uroboros has its tail in its mouth creating a circle of renewal or life everlasting. Our name honors the traditions and lore of medieval alchemists as they struggled to turn non-precious lead into precious gold. Today, we use non-precious sand to make some of the most precious hand-cast art glass available in the world.

I love using art glass in my mosaics, with the unusual textures and colors, never two sheets exactly the same, and traces of the creator, a kind of fingerprint.  Sometimes what might not work for Stratoz in his stained glass projects will look marvelous in mosaic and vice versa, and even within one sheet, there are enough variations to keep us always interested. 

Here's a cool video of the hand blown, hand rolled process of making art glass:

 

D is for Dard Hunter

Roycroft Motto::Dard Hunter DesignDard Hunter was born in Ohio in 1883, worked at his father’s newspaper setting type, and went on to make stained glass for Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, NY.  His early exposure to newspapers led to a passion for paper and type, and he made “one man books” where he cast and cut the type, set it, printed it on his own handmade paper.  Dard lived the Roycroft motto above!  I first saw his stained glass on my 40th birthday trip to the Roycroft Inn.  His glass lanterns were captivating with their green glow.  Later, when commissioned to make a mosaic candleholder, I remembered the greens and warm copper tones, and felt inspired.

Hanging Lanterns (c. 1903-1908)

Mosaic Candle Holder

Over at Stratoz:

D is for Drums