Posts Tagged With: glass work



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After a gorgeous sunrise in Superior…one of the loveliest things about living on the road, we see the sun go down each night and the sun rise each morning. We left Superior, WI about nine, crossed this unique curving bridge into the State of Minnesota right at Duluth, and parked practically in an alley in Grand Rapids, MN.  In fact, we are parked between signs, one reads, No Overnight Parking and another Overnight Parking Violators will be towed at owners expense.  We actually got permission from a bank manager to park here in our constant hunt for free parking.  Thank you Wells Fargo.

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We are parked in “Old Town” Grand Rapids. Old fashioned light posts, beautifully festooned with flower baskets so full I could reach then with my nose,though petunias are not particularly fragrant. To the left of this photo is an open lot with a farmers market just closing up as I started my walk about town. I bought delicious cherry tomatoes of every color. My goal was to visit Central School on the corner of 169 South and 2 West. We are beelining for Washington State and sticking tight to Highway 2.

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Central School is on the National Register of Historical Places. The wooden central stairway and hardwood floors, are a thing of beauty. Four classrooms upstairs, four downstairs and a basement that once held offices and a cafeteria. The building now rents to shopkeepers, with a bakery, a quilt shop, antiques, quality wood work and jewelry and unique gifts. A lovely stop.

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No matter how many times I see this sign, it brings me a chuckle. The other one I like is: “She who dies with the most fabric wins.” I guess you can tell I’m a quilter.

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I’d never seen this pattern before. It is called stepping stones. ABC’s of Quilting carries some neat quilt kits along with the usual fabrics and quilting supplies.

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The owner of Whispering Woods Gallery displays the work of many artists. These lovely items above are placed on a basswood plinth. He makes furniture, beds, desks, benches and uses various woods including basswood, which is unfamiliar to me.

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He demonstrated the cambium layer of bark of the basswood tree because it is known for its strength. He uses it for bucket handles, it can provide rope for a bunk bed, or braided   hanging ornaments or lamps. The wood is soft like pine but very strong.

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I loved that you can stop here for a game of checkers, another little area is set aside with floor pillows and a children’s reading library. Too fun.  You can sit and enjoy a treat from the bakery. Gifts, antiques, old and new items. A lot to offer.

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I left the school and directly across the side street was a line-up of nice shops, Hopperton’s Moccasins and gifts. Nice stuff.

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MacRostie Art Center where Ashley Kolka was in the process of setting up a new exhibit.

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Fine arts, sculpture, jewelry, fine paintings, multiple medas.  this chair is exquisite with a price tag to match at $6,000.

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Next door, a clothing store with wearable art, bags, shoes, scarves.

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At Stained Glass With Class, I asked, “Are you the glass man?”  George Berkholz answered: look at my hands, I’m always full of cuts.  You really can’t tell, they are more like scratches. He and his wife Lisa work the shop and also host classes. I watched him work for awhile. He cuts glass so fast you can’t get the action with the camera.

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He makes some unusual items.

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Nice Shop, friendly people.

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The Yarn Gallery was my favorite stop, well, a toss up with the wood gallery. The yarns are varied and pretty amazing, but I loved, loved, loved the yarn chair.

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I’m goofy about art chairs. I don’t know quite how or why I’ve come across a bunch of objects turned art with yarn. My photos include a yarn bus, a cab, a bench I think an elephant or a giraffe. Too fun! For a quick stop, this was a nice area of Grand Rapids to be in.

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Nolan Baras, 86 years old

Meet Nolan Barras, a skilled wood worker, carver, model builder, stained glass artist, painter, furniture maker, clock maker and probably other crafts I know nothing about. He is uniquely talented to be capable of such varied work and all of it self-taught.

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He was just putting the finishing touches on his current project. All of the horses move up and down on their posts. When finished it will have a motor to make it go around and play music.

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Here he holds a beautiful wood burning he did.

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He has about ten of these carriages, fully assembled and  waiting to be painted.

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It all started with this clock. He built it from scratch when he was a young man. He saw a picture of an expensive clock and he thought, I can do that.

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Both sides of the clock are hand tooled leather. He got married, had children, worked and never did another wood working project for 30 years. “I always liked doing that clock and I finally got time to play with wood.”

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There are clocks all over his house.

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He must have had 100 clocks in his house and workshop. Anyplace you could put one.

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And if you are going to build clocks, why not a lighted cathedral with figures that travel around a track and go in and out the door.

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You can see that pendulum is moving. Luckily, he doesn’t have to hand wind any of these model clocks, they have a battery. Nolan sends for the kit, but all of that filigree work is carved  by him and he has the right equipment to do it. Then he assembles them, sands and paints them.

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And, if you are going to make a lighted chandelier?  Why not five of them?  There were two already cut and assembled on the floor just waiting for their bulbs and electrical connections.

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The clocks were a dominate theme, but this man’s talent amazed us.

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He had hundred’s of crosses, of every size available,  already machine tooled. Why so many, asked Jim?  He said, “I gotta have something to do and this is what I like to do.”  He is 86 years old, and we saw no television in his house. He reminds me of older people who give you the secret of their longevity when you ask.  “Just keep a doin'”, is the usual answer.

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He builds dioramas and hand carves and paints all the figures like this Cajun band.

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Or this brawling, rip-roaring western bar scene.

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Did I mention that he paints?  There isn’t enough wall space so he built rows of screens from which to hang them. DSC03938 (Copy)

Every nook and cranny of his house is filled with artwork of one kind or another. The carnival horse on the left is an example of his stained glass work. He did small cathedral kits made from paper. He said he had more trouble assembling paper creased churches than the wooden ones.

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Then there are the doll houses with his hand carved furnishings. This one must be five feet long.

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The center of this room is filled with buildings. The glass figure of a “female”  butterfly is more of his stained glass work.

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Some of the buildings are small; many are lighted.

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In some years past he skillfully hand carved and built a credenza. This is the top piece with his initial.

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He no longer has room for big projects. At one time he and his wife had a store where he sold his carvings, but it has been closed for many years, and his wife died six years ago.

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He hand carves pictures on beautiful woods and shellacs them.

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Some of his hand carved pieces are painted and framed like this bowl of flowers. The flower petals are 1/2 and inch thick. Very unique.

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With all the ends and pieces of wood, he carves little figures like these. He has them by the box full. He has two places that sell his work. “They sell a little.” he says.

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When there is no room on the wall, the paintings sit on the floor and lean against something.

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And, if you build clocks you collect clocks, too. He had several old clocks and then this Rube Goldberg type clock. He’ll probably figure out how to build one  some day. He is so multi-talented and skilled. It was a pleasure to meet him and he enjoyed showing us his work. Jim marveled at his eyesight, that he can still see well enough to use fine power tools and sharp carving knives. I’m so glad I got to meet Nolan Barras.


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We like it here in Port Arthur at the American Legion so much, we stayed an extra day and just lazed around. I’m reading a Mary Higgins Clark mystery and played with picture files most of the day. I have to qualify my book. I enjoyed her early books and then at some point she got sloppy and so formulaic you could guess the ending in the first five chapters. I quit reading her books.Recently,  I picked up another, Night Time Is My Time and hey, she has redeemed herself. I get in the mood for mystery and true crime books. But, so far, Ann Rule is the best true crime writer. My recent favorite books? None are genre books. Night Whispers by Judith McNaught, Before Women Had Wings, by Connie May Fowler, Fortune’s Rocks, by Anita Shreve.

Looking back at pictures over the past few weeks, I’ll just post them willy- nilly. But first, let me warn you :

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I KNOW YOU wouldn’t.

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A beautiful sculpture of a local hero at Rockport.

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Jim taking pictures on the streets of Galveston.

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Remember the Naked Mermaid store?  Well, they weren’t ALL naked.

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I think this mermaid is drunk. I call her the floozie mermaid.

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Getting ready for Mardi Gras in Galveston.

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Quite a catch. These were caught with a rod and reel, when sport fishing was really a sport. It isn’t against the law here in Texas to pull your pick-up truck next to the river, turn on a big spotlight and shine it into the water, and net the fish up that are attracted to the light. Night fishing or frogging in every state I’ve lived in is not allowed, it puts the critter at such a disadvantage. Can’t call it sportsman-like. It is slaughter.

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Another photo of the great Miss Joplin from The Gulf Coast Museum.

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And exquisite glass pieces too.

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Beautiful, aren’t they?

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The way I look at it is this:   I can’t afford beautiful glass like this. But, I can collect pictures of beautiful objects and keep them forever to look at and enjoy again and again.

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I have a hard time to fathom the skill and technique it must take to create these pieces. There is a need for those of us who can only appreciate such beauty.

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These tiny birds are not magnificent long-billed water birds, but cute little common street birds. I think I must like all birds, even the pesty jays, woodpeckers and crows.

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Indelible impressions of the Texas Gulf Coast are the many boats at many marinas. The shimmering shadows in water, the blue, white, and gray colors.  Lovely.

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The black gold that put Texas on forefront of the economy.

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This is a common practice to honor an artist who has died. Her paint brushes in the back of a turtle sculpture.

So, this is Texas. This morning, the Commander of the American Legion Post we are about to leave, invited us in for omelets with he and his wife and dog. Bar none. The friendliest post we’ve ever been to. What a way to end our stay here. Unforgettable. We will unload in Louisiana by the end of the day. Goodbye Texas, for now.

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