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G is for Grey Towers and Gifford Pinchot, A to Z Challenge 2013

Grey Towers Milford PA
Grey Towers Milford PA, home to Gifford Pinchot(1865-1946). Photo by Wayne Stratz.


G is for Grey Towers, the home of Gifford and Cornelia Pinchot(1881-1960)and built by Gifford’s parents James and Mary Pinchot in Milford, PA.  Grey Towers is now a National Historic Site. Gifford Pinchot had a passion for forestry and is a father of sustainable forest programs in the US, and also served two terms as governor of Pennsylvania.  Note the majestic mustache.

Gifford Pinchot
Gifford Pinchot

Cornelia Pinchot campaigned for women’s right to vote, child labor laws and after her husband died, ran for the governorship, as well as for Congress.

Grey Towers, Dining Room Finger Bowl
Grey Towers, Dining Room Finger Bowl. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Stratoz and I had driven by the signs for Grey Towers many times but it was closed for renovations;  finally we stopped in 2002 when it had reopened and took a tour. It rises up like a miniature castle, made of PA bluestone.  Beyond it’s formal appearance, we discovered the Cornelia’s sense of playfulness, with the outdoor dining room table called the Finger Bowl.  Guests passed the dishes afloat.

The Archives at Grey Towers, Milford, PA
The Letter Box at Grey Towers, Milford, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

The Letter Box was an office for Gifford Pinchot and archive of his papers, which are now at the Library of Congress.  At the end of a reflecting pool was the Bait Box, a playhouse for the Pinchot’s son.  There was some larger than life Maple Leaf wallpaper inside the mansion, and I discovered that Gifford’s father made his fortune in wallpaper.


A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2013

F is for Fallingwater and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Favorite Yellow Ochre, A to Z Challenge 2013

Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright
Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright, Bear Run, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz, 2005.

F is for Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Stratoz and I took a trip to see it for our birthdays in July of 2005.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings are a mixture of stubbornness, imagination and delight.  A house cantilevered over a stream, practically launched into the water.

Fallingwater Wayne
Wayne Stratz on the grounds of Fallingwater with a Rhododendron leaf, July 2005. Photo by Margaret Almon.

The tour guide told us that Frank Lloyd Wright used yellow ochre throughout the house, inspired by the color of faded Rhododendron leaves from the grounds.  Stratoz happened to find a leaf, and it matched his shirt perfectly. Perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright would approve.

What buildings have awed you?

More images at my A to Z Challenge Pinterest Board.

Blogging from A to Z April 2013

Still Life with Orange Plate and Alice Chocolates

Orange Plate with Chocolates
Orange Plate by Lisa Sabol with Chocolates from Alice Bakery,
North Wales, PA. Photo by Margaret Almon.
Orange and Blue. Photo by Margaret Almon.
Orange and Blue. Photo by Margaret Almon.

When I brought home chocolates from Alice Bakery & Confectionary, I discovered one dusted in orange, and two in a shade of blueberry.  The fused glass plate by Lisa Sabol was the foil, plus some reflections from the window.  Isn’t it wonderful when photos turn out better than you imagined?

Composing this still life made me think of the guestbook we saw on our trip to the museums and galleries of Washington DC, and the comment by KR that resonated!

Art is Food.
Art is Food, KR signs the guest book at Smithsonian. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Bead by HMB Studios

Spiral Beads by HMB Studios and Perhaps the Best Hostess Gift Ever

Glass beads by Heather Boardman of HMB Studios resting on a Fenton Milk Glass Leaf Plate.
Swirly glass beads by Heather Boardman of HMB Studios resting on a Fenton Milk Glass Leaf Plate.


In fulfilling Stratoz’s 2012 resolution to have people over for pizza, Heather and Harry Boardman were our last guests for 2012.  They are a dynamic duo of artists.  Harry does paintings and custom portraits, and Heather creates glass beads and when we attended their open studio tour at their house in the woods outside Telford, I gravitated to and purchased some of Heather’s swirly glass discs for focal points in my mosaics.

When the Boardmans arrived, Heather handed me a sparkly bag of glass as a gift, beads she made for me, in my favorite orange tones.  I’d mentioned to Heather how much I loved glass tile with streaks of coppery crystals, and she had mixed in some goldstone to add the extra sparkle.   It’s a thrill to have such a custom gift, and I look forward to incorporating them into my work.  It was great fun having Harry and Heather over, talking about art and business and getting to know them better.

When I went to photograph the beads, I saw the Fenton leaf plate that my friend Joanne had given me, and it seemed a perfect setting.


Friday Five: Resolutions and Absolutions Edition

I’m playing a belated Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals on Resolutions:

Before: My Dining Room Table Desk
Before my Desk
The Corner: Before my Desk


1. In the past, what resolution has been your most successful? What change have you made that has been the most beneficial, to your mood, health, finances, or other way of being in the world?

In 2012, I wanted to make space for my business.   I took an online class in getting organized from the Artbiz Coach, Alyson Stanfield.  She asked us to take before pictures, and then create a space where we could work on our business.  Stratoz encouraged me to get a standing desk, so I could get away from all the sitting, and so I commissioned Dave and Mindy Spray of Creative Wood Designs by DAMI.  Dave measured the corner, and my height from elbow to floor and worked with me to create a desk that fit me.  I am amazed and how standing makes it easier for me to organize, to make to-do lists, and feel at ease rather than hunched over the dining room table with piles of stuff.  My desk has a big drawer, storage under the drafting top, and a flat area for a pencil cup.

Standing Desk from Creative Wood Designs by DAMI
Standing Desk from Creative Wood Designs by DAMI.

2. What is one thing you hope to do differently this year with regard to health, either physical or spiritual?

Discovering the Alexander Technique as a way to find more ease in my movement and in the studio was wonderful in 2012, and now I want to incorporate the idea of “constructive rest” into my daily life, and rest breaks while I am working in the studio, which is part of having compassion for myself.  F.M. Alexander, originator of the technique, believed that we are a unity of mind and body that makes up the self, that English doesn’t have a word to describe this whole unity of the physical-mental-emotional-spiritual self.

3. What is one thing you hope your family will do differently this year,  ways to deepen your connections with those you love.

More art and jazz dates with Stratoz.  We both tend to lack momentum in getting out of the house, or are busy with craft shows, but when we go on a date it’s awesome.

4. What is one thing you hope your community of faith will consider doing differently this year?

Stratoz attends the church on the corner, and there’s a new rector who just arrived in September, after an 8 year search.  I know people from this congregation than any one I ever was a member of, and they have a welcoming spirit, and I hope they find ways of being emboldened in sharing this welcome with the community.


5. In what area would you most like to learn to be gentle with yourself? For what would you most like to forgive yourself? Share your ideas and strategies for extending yourself the kind of grace we know we are assured of.

I want to be gentle with my body, and give myself enough rest, and the opportunity to release tensions that accumulate in my muscles.  I want to have compassion for myself, and rest in the idea that there is no “perfect”, and to practice letting go of tasks before I “feel done” with them.


10 Ways to a More Ergonomic Mosaic Studio

Suspended Harmonies: Fiber Art by Ted Hallman at the Michener Museum, Artist and Alexander Teacher

Ted Hallman Suspended Harmonies
Suspended Harmonies: Lederach artist Ted Hallman finally lands first installation at Michener Museum – Souderton Independent – Montgomery News


At my Alexander Technique lesson, my teacher, Ted Hallman, gave me a Christmas card with a photo of one of his fiber sculptures on the front and inside inscribed, “It’s a different tree this year 2012.”  Stratoz and I went to see Ted’s installation, Suspended Harmonies at the Michener Art Museum, which abounds with trees knotted and woven around steel armatures and suspended by line at the ceiling.  Stepping into the Pfundt Gallery, you are enveloped by the work, and surrounded by a tracery of shadows on the walls.  Trees are a symbol of what can grow in gravity.  Ted likes to remind me of this upwardness, and how our bodies like this, as opposed to pulling down, or collapsing.

In 2011, I started Alexander lessons, in the midst of back pain, and difficulty working in my studio.  Visual imagery has been an important part of my learning, either by watching how Ted moves and stands, and in searching for images that evoke the ease of being in alignment, and realizing my strength comes from the back of the body, rather the front in my old habits of leaning over and hunching.  I started collecting images on my Alexander Technique and Ease in the Art Studio Pinterest Board.  I have received positive responses to this, and recently Robert Rickover at Body Learning wrote about visual depictions of AT.

If you are going to be in the Doylestown, PA area, consider checking out Ted Hallman’s Suspended Harmonies.  And when you see trees, remember their ease, and as they grow toward the sky.

Suspended Harmonies: Fiber Art by Ted Hallman, James A. Michener Art Museum through March 3rd, 2013.

Let the Creativity Flow: Commissioning Art from Abby Sernoff of 111 Collage Design.

Warm Prismacolors by Wayne Stratz
Warm Colors by Wayne Stratz for a Collage by Abby Sernoff.

Collage was one of my first art loves.  Much of what I learned from making collages informs my mosaics, the way pieces combine to create a new whole.  Also, being covered in glue is a common thread!  Stratoz has been musing on what kind of client he would be, inspired by listening to Coltrane playing My Favorite Things, and a collaboration he was envisioning with collage artist Abby Sernoff of 111 Collage Design.  He asks:

And I wonder how I would act as a client??? Would I be willing to commission a piece and say, “Make it new. Let the creativity flow?”  I am thinking of doing that with a collage artist.  I desire one of Abby Sernoff’s pieces, but how to make that commission still floats in my mind.

Stratoz made some colored pencil drawings to send to Abby and she is going to incorporate them, in whatever way she is inspired, into a collage for him.  The collage below is one that both Stratoz and I admire, with the vibrant color.  I look forward to seeing what Abby creates for her new client.

111 Collage Design: Art by Abby Sernoff

Check out The finished commission: Jazz Tree

Related Posts my Love of Collage:

Every Last Scrap.

Log Cabin Quilt Collages.


More Orange Goodness at my Orange Tuesdays Pinterest Board.

Meet Me in the Lobby: Highlights of the PA Guild Show at the Chase Center, August 4th and 5th, 2012

Jupi’s Art. Jupi Das.
Booth 103.
Cummings Pam Pottery (7)
Pam Cummings Pottery.
Booth 112.
Balock Woodturning. George Balock.
Booth 113.
Painted Scherenschnitte. Sandra Gilpin. Booth 127.
Beadweaving from Megan’s Jewelry Box. Megan Horan.
Booth 130.
Log Cabin Quilt Block in Glass by Margaret Almon
Nutmeg Designs. Margaret Almon.
Booth 131.

I will be in booth 131, in the lobby, along with 5 of the makers of work in my own collection of craft!  This is going to be a great entryway into a great show, so meet me in the lobby!

Chase Center, Wilmington, DE

Paper Cutting: Scherenschnitte in Pennsylvania.

Wharton Esherick and the Pennsylvania Legacy of Woodworking.

Orange Tuesday Meets the Makers From the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen Show, Wilmington, DE, August 4th & 5th, 2012

Orange Goodness from the PA Guild of Craftsmen: Chase Show, Wilmington, DE, August 4th-5th, 2012
Orange Goodness from the PA Guild of Craftsmen: Chase Show, Wilmington, DE, August 4th-5th, 2012

1. DasJupi03, 2. Thomas, Herb 03, 3. WarnerKaryn03, 4. SingerGloria_02, 5. scottjana01, 6. SardisSondra_02, 7. RobinsonKathy03, 8. RicheyBob_03, 9. RaveseMaryLouise04, 10. Livrone, Maria 04, 11. KreiderDavid03, 12. Heisler, Carol 03, 13. HillKaren_02, 14. fleischer, Susan 01, 15. CrochetNancy01, 16. AndersonBeth04

The Chase Show is August 4th and 5th, 2012, and I wanted to share some of the other artists who are participating and who have awesome orange!
The Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen celebrates its 6th anniversary as the Brandywine Valley’s largest premier fine craft fair featuring more than 190 independent local and regional craft artists.  Fair hours are 10 am to 6 pm Saturday, and 10 am to 5 pm Sunday.

More Orange at my Orange Tuesdays Pinterest Board.