Tag Archives: etching

The art of the sale, or the sale of the art?


Despite my best efforts to sabotage myself as a successful artist, I sold another piece of my artwork today.


Today was the second of the First Saturdays, a new venture to spread the joy of the Greater Ithaca Art Trail to the rest of the year. Because I’m technically “off the map” I don’t get a lot of visitors to my studio; hence I show most of my work at Salmon Pottery in Trumansburg the majority of the year. Last month I had no visitors, but that was OK… nobody had really heard of First Saturday Open Studio yet.  It was a good time to work quietly, or not-so-quietly, in the studio, working on a number of pieces in various stages of completion.  The studio was pretty much a disaster, and it was a good excuse to straighten up a bit.


For today, I pulled a few pieces off the shelves at Salmon to show in my studio; I realized that my walls are looking rather bare.  My new exploration into shadow art — etching poems into glass so that you can read the shadows in direct light — has been so successful that I’m having a bit of a hard time keeping things on the wall!  So, I needed more finished examples in the studio.

Two visitors came in on this bright and blustery day, and we had a lovely time (well, I did… I guess I shouldn’t speak for them) talking about art and travel and birds… I introduced them to my and Gordon’s artwork, and we kept talking while they looked around.  When the woman asked about pieces that are not for sale, I commented on the fact that there are a couple of pieces in the studio that do have NFS on the label… not at all thinking that what she was asking was “why don’t these have price tags?” and “how much are these pieces?”

Um, duh? The Art of the Sale class offered by the Ithaca Community Arts Partnership has been something I’ve been intending on taking, but for the same reason I hadn’t thought about putting my own price tags on my art or printing out the text for all of the pieces on the wall, I haven’t gotten organized enough to sign up.

Then, despite my complete inability to sell myself or my work, I sold Bronte’s Tree, a central image with the writing on the treetrunk on the back side of the glass so that the poem How Still, How Happy was written backwards.  I remembered where the sales book is, and miracle of miracles I remembered the password to my Square account so that I could accept a credit card.  I was hoping with all my will she would not ask what poem was written into the piece because I kept drawing a blank, and I had left the display text at Salmon Pottery.  She didn’t ask, but I promised to mail them the text.

She even granted me visitation rights, although I think that’s going a little over the edge… maybe a bit.



Evolution by Langdon Smith: A new LanguageArts creation


Ready for professional photo and then off to be framed!  Total of five separate layers, spaced 1/4″ to 3/8″ above one another.  Really hard to show in a photo, but you can see where the shadows fall to tell what layer a certain piece of text or etching is.  The poem is called Evolution by Langdon Smith, and it is wonderful:

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
  In the Paleozoic time,
 And side by side on the ebbing tide
  We sprawled through the ooze and slime,
 Or skittered with many a caudal flip
  Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
 My heart was rife with the joy of life,
  For I loved you even then.

 Mindless we lived and mindless we loved
  And mindless at last we died;
 And deep in the rift of the Caradoc drift
  We slumbered side by side.
 The world turned on in the lathe of time,
  The hot lands heaved amain,
 Till we caught our breath from the womb of death
  And crept into light again.

 We were amphibians, scaled and tailed,
  And drab as a dead man's hand;
 We coiled at ease 'neath the dripping trees
  Or trailed through the mud and sand.
 Croaking and blind, with our three-clawed feet
  Writing a language dumb,
 With never a spark in the empty dark
  To hint at a life to come.

 Yet happy we lived and happy we loved,
  And happy we died once more;
 Our forms were rolled in the clinging mold
  Of a Neocomian shore.
 The eons came and the eons fled
  And the sleep that wrapped us fast
 Was riven away in a newer day
  And the night of death was past.

 Then light and swift through the jungle trees
  We swung in our airy flights,
 Or breathed in the balms of the fronded palms
  In the hush of the moonless nights;
 And, oh! what beautiful years were there
  When our hearts clung each to each;
 When life was filled and our senses thrilled
  In the first faint dawn of speech.

 Thus life by life and love by love
  We passed through the cycles strange,
 And breath by breath and death by death
  We followed the chain of change.
 Till there came a time in the law of life
  When over the nursing side
 The shadows broke and soul awoke
  In a strange, dim dream of God.

 I was thewed like an Auruch bull
  And tusked like the great cave bear;
 And you, my sweet, from head to feet
  Were gowned in your glorious hair.
 Deep in the gloom of a fireless cave,
  When the night fell o'er the plain
 And the moon hung red o'er the river bed
  We mumbled the bones of the slain.

 I flaked a flint to a cutting edge
  And shaped it with brutish craft;
 I broke a shank from the woodland lank
  And fitted it, head and haft;
 Then I hid me close to the reedy tarn,
  Where the mammoth came to drink;
 Through the brawn and bone I drove the stone
  And slew him upon the brink.

 Loud I howled through the moonlit wastes,
  Loud answered our kith and kin;
 From west and east to the crimson feast
  The clan came tramping in.
 O'er joint and gristle and padded hoof
  We fought and clawed and tore,
 And check by jowl with many a growl
  We talked the marvel o'er.

 I carved that fight on a reindeer bone
  With rude and hairy hand;
 I pictured his fall on the cavern wall
  That men might understand.
 For we lived by blood and the right of might
  Ere human laws were drawn,
 And the age of sin did not begin
  Till our brutal tush were gone.

 And that was a million years ago
  In a time that no man knows;
 Yet here tonight in the mellow light
  We sit at Delmonico's.
 Your eyes are deep as the Devon springs,
  Your hair is dark as jet,
 Your years are few, your life is new,
  Your soul untried, and yet -

 Our trail is on the Kimmeridge clay
  And the scarp of the Purbeck flags;
 We have left our bones in the Bagshot stones
  And deep in the Coralline crags;
 Our love is old, our lives are old,
  And death shall come amain;
 Should it come today, what man may say
  We shall not live again?

 God wrought our souls from the Tremadoc beds
  And furnished them wings to fly;
 We sowed our spawn in the world's dim dawn,
  And I know that it shall not die,
 Though cities have sprung above the graves
  Where the crook-bone men make war
 And the oxwain creaks o'er the buried caves
  Where the mummied mammoths are.

 Then as we linger at luncheon here
  O'er many a dainty dish,
 Let us drink anew to the time when you
  Were a tadpole and I was a fish.
-- Langdon Smith

Works In Progress


“Wind and the Sea” – a gorgeous poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, first nationally known African-American poet and writer from Ohio, born in 1872. The etching is on the front and back of a single 3/8″ pane of glass, 12″x16″.  Next up comes some chemical etching to add texture and even a bit more depth.

The Wind and the Sea

I stood by the shore at the death of day,
As the sun sank flaming red;
And the face of the waters that spread away
Was as gray as the face of the dead.

And I heard the cry of the wanton sea
And the moan of the wailing wind;
For love’s sweet pain in his heart had he,
But the gray old sea had sinned.

The wind was young and the sea was old,
But their cries went up together;
The wind was warm and the sea was cold,
For age makes wintry weather.

So they cried aloud and they wept amain,
Till the sky grew dark to hear it;
And out of its folds crept the misty rain,
In its shroud, like a troubled spirit.

For the wind was wild with a hopeless love,
And the sea was sad at heart
At many a crime that he wot of,
Wherein he had played his part.

He thought of the gallant ships gone down
By the will of his wicked waves;
And he thought how the churchyard in the town
Held the sea-made widows’ graves.

The wild wind thought of the love he had left
Afar in an Eastern land,
And he longed, as long the much bereft,
For the touch of her perfumed hand.

In his winding wail and his deep-heaved sigh
His aching grief found vent;
While the sea looked up at the bending sky
And murmured: “I repent.”

But e’en as he spoke, a ship came by,
That bravely ploughed the main,
And a light came into the sea’s green eye,
And his heart grew hard again.

Then he spoke to the wind: “Friend, seest thou not
Yon vessel is eastward bound?
Pray speed with it to the happy spot
Where thy loved one may be found.”

And the wind rose up in a dear delight,
And after the good ship sped;
But the crafty sea by his wicked might
Kept the vessel ever ahead.

Till the wind grew fierce in his despair,
And white on the brow and lip.
He tore his garments and tore his hair,
And fell on the flying ship.

And the ship went down, for a rock was there,
And the sailless sea loomed black;
While burdened again with dole and care,
The wind came moaning back.

And still he moans from his bosom hot
Where his raging grief lies pent,
And ever when the ships come not,
The sea says: “I repent.”