After spending thirty-six years in the working world, I am learning to "live outside the lines," become less regimented, and explore creative projects. This blog records my experiences with long-form writing, art, including stained glass and painting, and travel. I'm not a natural at making loud noises in today's "selfie" world, so making this public is a stretch. That's probably a good thing.
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We decided to schedule one specific "experience" when
we were here and it wasn't the typical one. No fishing expedition cycling tour,
or boating trip. And especially no trips to Game of Thrones sites or the isle
of Skellig Michael (the final scene of Star Wars). Instead we went on a
We picked the Ireland School of Falconry at Ashford
Castle and scheduled an extended walk, which included a private walk with a
guide for an hour and a half. The castle itself is quite a setting, just
outside the village of Cong in County Mayo. Yes, it is a castle...a place that
Americans spend, at minimum $700 per night to say they stayed in a castle.
I can spend money very easily (e.g., business class plane tickets) but I had no
interest in staying at the castle with a bunch of obnoxious Americans. But we
got to visit the grounds to access the school of falconry, so win for us!
The school is set at the corner of the estate, in what appeared
fort-like with high walls and doors. We met Alec, our young guide, and he
introduced us to the two Harris Hawks we would be managing (with his help). We
were fitted with heavy leather gloves, given our orientation, and introduced to
Rua (me) and Kara (John). Alec helped us fly both females for the next hour as
we walked through the woods around the estate and it was so interesting! They
are motivated by food, so they would fly from our hands and then we would lure
them back with baby chicken parts hidden in our gloves (yum!).
They swooped away and came back many times, sometimes switching
to whoever's hand seemed to have better food. It wasn't the least bit
frightening, even when they would come in for a fast landing. Once we finished flying the Hawks, we were able to fly Dingle,
the woodland owl, in a large open space, for comparison. He was much bigger and
was such an exhilarating experience! So interesting to learn about the Hawks
and this ancient sport.
Well, I learned something new with this last project: creating an abstract piece is a thousand times harder than following a realistic pattern.
I wanted to follow-up my lead came class with an actual project, completed on my own. As ever, I have bins of scrap glass, so I decided to create a piece where I could accomplish two goals: 1) use the lead came method; and 2) use up scrap glass!
It sounded rather easy...sort of like putting a puzzle together. The truth is, it was incredibly hard. Balancing colors and pieces of glass into a unified design almost drove me crazy. At first, I thought I could piece things together without a pattern, but that process was a giant failure. So, I forced myself to draw a pattern that I could revise, revise, and revise again.
I'm really happy with how it turned out, despite all of my whining...
I took a class at D&L last month and learned how to make leaded stained glass. In other words, use lead came to assemble the pieces instead of copper foil. The lead came method is a thousand years old and is used by artisans worldwide. But, as one might expect, working with lead does present some health hazards, so it is a bit more persnickety than the copper foil method, which is what I learned several years ago. (Most new beginners in stained glass learn the copper foil method.)
The only thing I don't like about the lead came method is stretching the lead itself...I still don't have the hang of it. But I did love using the lead to piece everything together. For some reason, the process was more meditative than copper foil. Then, the mudding process (the "glue" that holds the piece together) is messy, but it works.
For some reason, the whole process feels more organic. Also, you don't have to solder as much, which makes me happy. I'm not usually a perfec…
One of the Saturday sessions at HNS-2017 resonated strongly with me. Susanna Kearsley spoke about "Twin-Stranded Storylines", a subject I needed to hear about, since I tend to enjoy books that employ this technique. And I thoroughly enjoy her novels.
However, before I get to the guidance she offered, one thing she said made the entire room laugh, then go quiet, as each person processed her simple piece of wisdom. Susanna said that when you're researching a project, just tell people you're a writer. Don't hedge around why you're asking nosy questions, or trying to find weird details (my words) from someone. In her experience, that admission--I'm a writer--breaks the ice, and then people bend over backwards to help. She acknowledged those words are difficult to say (and I would add, even more difficult to process if you've never allowed yourself to believe it).
Her presentation was professional, well-organized, and thoughtful. The advice she offered tha…