Bag o' Trix 4 - Guest Blogger Trixie Brown

Don't know why but the spring rains always gets me itching to hit the pavement for a visionquest-style roadtrip. Short of running off mid-workweek, here's the virtual version of destinations where I've spotted some prime old-school craft genius. I'll preface this ride with stating flat out that it would be worth spending some precious carbon-karma on these sites cause these creations are truly 10 times more amazing in the flesh than their photographic counterparts.

First stop, Boston and the Harvard School of Natural History where we pop in to discover the lifework of Leo and Rudy Blaschka. For 50 years this father/son art team were commissioned to create room after room of painstakingly realistic glass models of nearly 3,000 plant species with, of course, their cross sections and seed details. This well could be a joint venture with the neuroscience dept as viewers are prone to aneurisms when the eye to brain synapses overload trying to comprehend that these are actually crafted out of flameworked glass and not real flowers. Quite insane in the membrane, fellas.
Links to pics and an NPR article on glass flowers.

Next stop is the eccentric roadside kitsch of Roadside America in Shartlesville, PA. Built by Laurence Gieringer over a span of 60 years this is the classic story of small town living with way too much time on your hands. Started as a hobby when he was 16, this minature village grew into a colossus Walmart of early Americana tinkertowns. Adding to the obsessive nature of the project, I love that the brochure lists every nail and BF of lumber used in the creation. Although you'll totally delight in all the minute details throughout the exhibit, the best part hands down is when the lady in the wood-paneled DJ booth lowers the lights for a night-time village scenario with Jesus and the American flag projected on the wall and Kate Smith's God Bless America starts jamming in the background. Ya can't get that at Disneyland anymore, folks! Such a throwback, they might as well be selling "I like Ike" pins in the giftshop.

More photo details here.

OK, back in the open road and onward to Doylestown, PA and the eclectic, scholarly genius of Henry Chapman Mercer. After casting aside formal archaeological pursuits, this eccentric renaissance man returns home to specialize in local historical pottery techniques, founds the Moravian Tile Factory and then becomes an early pioneer in cast concrete building construction in the early 1900's. Of the three superstructures he built in town, Fonthill, his personal playhouse, is by far the most interesting. Thoroughly modern in vision, he organically designed individual rooms encrusted with his candy-colored, historically-narrative, brocade tile designs and then afterwards devised the exterior to would contain it all. I love how out of the box that is! So innovative for his time, he would cast whole window sashes and furniture in situ and leave the textured imprints from the wooden molds as legacy to the handcraft process. I think HCM probably said it best himself, "Decorate construction but never construct decoration." Truly words to craft by, I'd say.


1 comment:

  1. The glass flowers at the HMNH are truly incredible -- and if you're in the Boston area and want to take a trip, the museum is free to Mass. residents every Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. It's a great way to spend your Sunday -- for free, no less.