Making a Move (and Taking a Break)

Portland at night by Jim Nix
Photo by Jim Nix from his blog Nomadic Pursuits

We have finally completed the long-contemplated move of our Studio from the rolling hills of California wine country to Portland, Oregon, home to exciting new ventures, lots of young talent, and other wonderful resources.

It's also a lot easier to fly in and out of, which is a real benefit to our new and existing clients who come to see their pieces during the design or sandblasting stage. 

Our new contact information is Amri Studio, 826-B NW 18th Ave., Portland, OR 97209; tel 503 488-5638; fax 503 980-1316. No change to email or website. I'll talk more about our new Portland team, assets, and resources in a later blog.

Taking a Break to Rest and Reflect

On Monday, July 27, we begin our Studio’s our annual two-week summer closure (reopening Monday, August 10).

This is a time for the entire staff (including me!) to rest, renew, and refresh our spirits -- and think deeply about the meaning of what we do. Sometimes in the rush of day-to-day deadlines we don't allow ourselves enough time to focus on anything but the details and getting the job done on time.

But when we have a chance to step back and breathe, we remember the big picture and are inspired anew. Let me tell you one of my very favorite stories about the difference between the coping with the immediate task and the big picture way of doing our work.

St. Paul's painting

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

In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed most of the city and reduced 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 when Thomas Strong, Wren's master stonemason, laid the first stone of the new cathedral.

St Paul's plans

Sir Thomas Wren’s plans for the dome of St. Paul’s

One day Sir Christopher was surveying the progress the men were making on his huge creation. He stopped to speak to one of the stonecutters, and asked the man what he was doing.

“I’m cutting blocks of stone,” the he replied, a big 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, sir, I’m earning a living to feed my family,” he replied, apparently puzzled that anyone 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 with a deeply furrowed smile.


Two photos at left by Gabriel Harber; at right, detail from Donor Wall we created at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston, WV 

The joy and satisfaction we take in our work depends in very large part on the context in which we hold that work.  For me, designing and carving architectural art glass and stone -- or working in etched metal or porcelain enamel -- 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.

Christina cropped at trade showIt’s about creating timeless works of art that deeply honor the donors, institutions, and staff members who together are doing vital and heartfelt work to make our world a better place. I feel honored myself to be a part of their endeavors.

And that’s what I’ll be thinking about in the coming two weeks as I rest, relax and refresh my energies for an exciting autumn in our new Studio in Portland.

Christina color sig-1