Playing with Fire

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I’m all about having experiences instead of acquiring stuff. At this point in my life, I certainly don’t need many more things to make me happy. Of course, if an experience happens to result in a beautiful item I can brag about  show off  display, that would be OK too.

Over the Christmas holidays, my husband and I were treated to a glassblowing session given by an artist whose studio is in the beautiful Northern California town of Benicia. My brother and sister-in-law – the givers of the gifts – joined us for this extraordinary opportunity to play with fire that was raging inside a furnace operating at temperatures around 2,000 °F (1,090 °C).

I’ve always admired art glass and have acquired a few small pieces over the years, but I never thought I could actually be part of the creative process. Although David, the studio owner and master glassblower, was with me every step of the way, I came away feeling that the glass ornament was truly my creation. I got to pick and apply the colors, I manipulated the molten glass, and I blew into the pipe to expand the bulb to the correct diameter.

The four of us had such a great time. Our individual lessons not only resulted in four beautiful ornaments but gave us a deeper appreciation of the art of glassblowing. I don’t think any of us is destined to become a professional glassblower, but who knows? Retirement is supposed to be a time of discovery and we all had fun discovering a new way to express our creative selves.

Thursday Doors – Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend sits at the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula. Because of its prime location near the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the site of a safe harbor, it became an important shipping port in the late 1800s. The town grew rapidly on speculation as investors banked on Port Townsend becoming the largest port north of San Francisco. Although that dream never came to fruition, many beautiful Victorian homes and historical buildings still stand as a reminder of its heyday.

Boating and maritime life are still central elements, but now Port Townsend is also well-known as an artists’ community. The tree-lined streets of the waterfront downtown area features multiple galleries, artists’ collectives, unique shops, and tempting restaurants.

And doors. Port Townsend has so many beautiful doors, it was hard to capture them all… which I didn’t… which is why I’m sure that I will return.

Thursday Doors is usually run by Norm 2.0, but is guest-hosted by Joey this week. Please visit her blog to find links to more doors.

The heART of La Paz, parte dos

I knew I would find unique and colorful buildings in La Paz. I knew that I would also find friendly people, amazing food, and gorgeous vistas. I had traveled to Mexico enough times in the past to know that I would find a culture that is somehow both exciting and relaxing at the same time.

What surprised me during our recent, brief trip to La Paz, was the quantity and quality of artistic expression that we found throughout the city. As I wrote about in my last post (here), art was abundant and took many different forms, including colorful murals, paintings and pottery, signage, and sculpture.

In my first post about our trip, I shared pictures of some of the many murals we saw as we walked around the town. Now, in parte dos, you will see some of the wonderful sculptures we found.

La Paz’s Malecon, a 3.5 mile seaside promenade that follows the curve of the shoreline, features the sculptures of several Mexican artists. All have the sea as their theme. The first one shown is of Jacques Cousteau, who once described La Paz as “the aquarium of the world.”

Malecon1 Malecon2Malecon3

Whimsical seashell musicians joyfully play their music in a downtown plaza.

Seashell musicians

We found this pocket park several blocks inland as we searched for a recommended restaurant. The park, called Stones and Birds, takes its name from a poem that is written and illustrated on one of its walls. The heads of the fountain’s sculptures are half men/half birds, with bodies of stones. The expressions and detail of the faces was exquisite.

Park 1

Park 2

Park 3