A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

23rd Century Antique

One of the best gifts to give is something you've noticed the recipient secretly coveting. She doesn't buy it because she can't afford it, thinks it a splurge, doesn't really "need" it, or whatever. You run back and buy it when she's not around, knowing it's guaranteed to be a hit.
I got one of those presents the other day, a belated Christmas gift from my friend Lorna. It's a little ornament. She was mainly interested in getting it to me before I took my Christmas tree down. Fat chance of that! I'm giving myself a deadline of Valentine's Day for that thankless chore.

I first saw these cunning little wooden ornaments at the Ashfield Fall Festival. Lorna lives in Ashfield, as does the artist, Kurt Meyer, so they were familiar to her. I'd never seen his work before.

I was impressed by the craftsmanship, and by the elegant simplicity. Kurt Meyer spent part of his childhood in Japan, and it shows. His boxes especially are marvels of intricate precision joinery. Tiny ring boxes fan open to four times their size to reveal a compartment lined in ultrasuede. Small as they are, they are made up of nearly 600 fingers and notches. My little ornament is formed of 32 separate pieces of wood.

Meyer uses only sustainably harvested domestic and exotic hardwoods, and never any paints, dyes, or stains. Many of the materials are waste from other woodworkers' projects. All the colors come from the natural hues of the various woods. My ornament is made of padauk, poplar, yellow heart, and walnut.

Meyer calls his company "23rd Century Antiques," which he feels signifies both the heirloom quality and durability of his product. Although he started out in the Pacific northwest, he's found his niche in Western Massachusetts, surrounded by lots of creative people and lots of trees. Besides nature and the creative energy of Ashfield, he's inspired by William Morris's News From Nowhere, a quote from which he puts on his website:

"Work will be a pleasure and work will be a sharing when the things we make are born out of beauty and of need."

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