A Time to Reflect and Renew

Next week on Monday, July 21 we begin our Studio’s annual summer closure, a time for us to rest, renew, refresh, and think deeply about the meaning of what we do. Sometimes in the rush of day-to-day deadlines -- especially right now when we just wrapped up two big projects and completed a revamp of our website -- we have to stay focused on the details to get everything done. 

But when we have a chance to step back and breathe, we always remember the big picture. Let me tell you a story that speaks to this.

Watercolor of St. Paul’s Cathedral by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd

In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed most of the city and reduced its venerable Old St. Paul’s Cathedral to charred timber and rubble. The famous architect Sir Christopher Wren was hired to design a new church. After many plans and revisions, construction finally began in 1677. Thomas Strong, Wren's master stonemason, laid the first stone of the new cathedral.

Christopher Wren’s plans for the dome of St. Paul’s

One day Sir Christopher was surveying the progress the men were making. He stopped at one stonecutter and asked him what he was doing.

“I’m cutting blocks of stone,” the man said, a bit testily. “Each one the same as the next. And the next. And the next. Every bloody stone just exactly the same.”

Sir Christopher wisely moved on. He approached a second stonecutter and asked the man what he was doing. “Why, I’m earning a living to feed my family,” he replied, apparently puzzled that anyone, least of all the boss, should need to ask.

Then Sir Christopher spotted a third stonecutter, very intent on his work. “What are you doing, good sir?” asked the architect.

The man looked up at him. He was covered with stone dust and his hands were heavily callused. He looked tired, but he looked satisfied, too.

“I am building a monument to the glory of God,” he said.

Photos at left by Gabriel Harber

The joy and satisfaction we take in our work depends in large part on the context in which we hold that work. For me, designing and carving architectural art glass is not just about sandblasting tiny lines and curves into panels of crystal, or even about running a successful small business in a field I love.

It’s about creating timeless works of art that deeply honor the donors, institutions and staff members who are making vital and heartfelt contributions toward the betterment of our world. I myself feel honored to be a part of their endeavors.

image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/14071404/d87baa4f-4b62-4515-a121-a574c4e1ee1a.pngAnd that’s what I’ll be thinking about in the coming three weeks as I rest, relax and refresh my energies for an exciting autumn in the Studio. We'll be back at work on Monday, August 11, ready to hear about your new projects!

P.S. I hope you'll enjoy browsing through our new site to see what we've been up to! Besides being a wonderful catalogue of our past projects, the message that this new site expresses is our deep commitment to timeless architectural art. 
New home page of website