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Please Join Me with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

Guest Post by Robert Dane, Master Glass Artist

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I asked my good friend Bob Dane to share with us some of his inspiration and experiences as an artist and master glass blower, part of my continuing series on artists and their work. He kindly agreed. Please click on the link below to enjoy the music of Mongo Santamaria and Afro Blue while you read this post:

I have been blowing glass for over forty years, starting at Massachusetts College of Art in 1973. Over the years I have studied with many of the masters of the Studio Glass Movement, including Lino Tagliapietra, Pino Signoretto, Dan Dailey, Dante Marioni, and William Morris. My work is created in my studio in Heath, Massachusetts, in the northern Berkshires of western Massachusetts. My wife, Jayne, directed a high school music program until 1996, when we opened our gallery on Centre Street on Nantucket. The Dane Gallery shows my work, and the work of some of the top artists working in glass today.

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Heath Brook Studio in the Berkshires

My artistic evolution spans years of working in the studio and learning from colleagues. The themes I have always focused on are of a continuum revolving around life and growth. There is an inherent optimism in my work, which I have tried to reinforce in the face of a seemingly constant barrage of negativity and pessimism coming at us from many sources. The beauty of Nature in its many forms continues to inspire me and inform my work. We are often too absorbed by the day to day of our own small existence to visualize and recognize the grand scheme, which is transpiring around us. My aim is to celebrate the beauty of the progression of life as it ever unfolds and reveals itself.

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Raised Cane Vases

Another source of my inspiration is music. For many years I have studied Afro-Cuban percussion. The music of the community is reflected in my sculpture. Traditional, folkloric Afro-Cuban music and Jazz share the same spirit of improvisation as glassblowing. When I’m playing in a group, I respond to what the other musicians are doing to create a whole. Something of that improvisation is found in my glass studio, where I work with three assistants. We all have to respond to each other’s movements, timing, and actions to create the finished piece. The horn form, which I have used in many of my sculptures, is a tribute to the improvisational nature of the music and a potent symbol of our culture. The titles of these sculptures are taken from different Jazz tunes.

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Rejoice

My production work is influenced by the Italian tradition of glassblowing, but has a distinctly American flavor. Vibrant colors and the spontaneous improvisation of these unique designs distinguish my work in a two thousand year tradition of glassblowing. My “Tutti Frutti Goblets” are all one of a kind, spontaneous expressions of life’s pleasures. As in any group, no two are like. When they are together, they enhance each other’s presence, creating a unique and beautiful experience. My goblets are very functional, and they set a beautiful table. I celebrate the communion I share with the people who drink from my glasses.

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Tutti Frutti Wine Goblets

Glass is a very common material, but at the same time it is mysterious and exciting. It is made primarily from sand mixed with other chemicals,to make the silica melt at a lower temperature (2000 degrees F), and to give the glass certain working and visual properties. In the studio, the fire, the movement, and the need to be constantly focused on the process have sustained my love affair with this amazing material. I am constantly learning new techniques as I work. With glassblowing, there is always a sense of discovery that is truly endless.

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Tutti Fruiti Water Goblets

Another reason glass appeals to me is that the tools and the processes we are using today basically haven’t changed over the last thousand or more years. We’re living in a techno-industrial society, but we’re carrying on this tradition, perpetuating the culture of handmade things. A glass blower from a thousand years ago could sit at my bench today and know exactly what to do. Glass does not deteriorate. It is fragile yet strong. The pieces that survive are a record of our culture and history, as they have been for thousands of years.

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Three Birds Candelabra

This summer will be an exciting one for glass and art on Nantucket. The Dane Gallery is proudly sponsoring a return visit by the Hot Glass Roadshow of the Corning Museum of Glass. (www.hotglassnantucket.org) All of the proceeds from “Hot Glass Nantucket 2016” will directly benefit the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club, a vital island organization dedicated to the education and development of the youths of Nantucket. So far we have raised almost $200,000 to support the programs of the Club.

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The Hot Glass Roadshow is a portable glassblowing facility dedicated to bringing the artistry and education of glassmaking to the general public. “Hot Glass Nantucket 2016” will be a great opportunity for the Nantucket Community to experience the mystery and excitement of glassblowing firsthand. The focal point of the program will be “You Design It; We make it!” Children will participate by designing and drawing a glass object. Over the course of the weekend, designs will be chosen to be created in glass by the Corning glassblowers. This will be a unique and special experience that they will never forget. In addition, we will present glassblowing demonstrations by artists represented in our gallery: Raven Skyriver, Toots Zynsky, and myself. See their work at www.danegallery.com, and my work at www.robertdane.com.

Here are a couple of videos to get a sense of what we do in the hot shop:

 

Raven Skyriver: https://vimeo.com/96101947

Robert Dane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxwpLb16hpw

 

What I Love with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

Our Planet’s Blue Heart

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“Why is it that scuba divers and surfers are some of the strongest advocates of ocean conservation?  Because they’ve spent time in and around the ocean, and they’ve personally seen the beauty, the fragility, and even the degradation of our planet’s blue heart.” –Sylvia Earle, American Marine Biologist

As spring turns to summer, many of us will travel to our island homes, or vacation destinations on the ocean, in diverse locations all over the world. The brilliant blue sea and its whispering waves speaks to something elemental in all of us, whether it is our playground for boating, fishing, scuba diving and surfing, or if we simply don a sunhat and relax under an umbrella with a tropical drink and a book.

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Although our oceans are our world’s largest natural resource, the human impact has been undeniable. From overfishing to manmade pollution, from coastal development to chemical runoff, scientists have identified many areas of decline. We must all be stewards of the water, just as we are of the land, to protect.our wild and healthy oceans. Here are some current concerns about ocean health, along with ideas about what we can do to help.

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1. Problem: A massive volume of plastic garbage now litters every ocean on the planet, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC):. Hundreds of species of marine life, including seabirds, whales, and sea turtles ingest or get entangled in plastic, as well as netting, fishing lines, and other debris. Fishing trawlers with huge drift nets can trap species other than the target fish, and lose the nets or cut them lose (ghost nets) where they spell death for any marine animals caught in them and unable to free themselves.

Solution: Public support for waste management measures, creating incentives for industry to use less plastic packaging, reduce single-use plastics, and encourage more recycling. On trips to the beach, carry out what you carry in. Retrieve all fishing line, lures, and gear. Because it will never biodegrade, nylon lines and nets will continue catching and killing turtles, dolphins, manatees, pelicans, and even human divers and swimmers forever. The European Union bans drift nets, as do the waters from Monterey, California to the Oregon Coast for part of the year, along with some other locations.

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2. Problem: The ocean is downstream of everything: Chemical runoff from land, including pesticides and fertilizers from farms, lawns, streets. and construction sites is a major cause of ocean pollution. Silt, nitrogen, and phosphorous can create “dead zones” in the sea where nothing can live, robbing waters of light and oxygen.

Solution: Use fewer chemicals and fertilizers. If you live on the water, plant a buffer zone of trees, shrubs, and grasses to filter runoff and provide shelter for shorebirds and other mammals. Decrease your water use at home, so you can decrease the amount of water that must be treated with chemicals before entering the ocean. Sweep your walks and driveway rather than hosing them off, as water transports chemicals to the nearest storm drain or waterway.

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3. Problem: Noise pollution threatens marine life: Loud noises created by sonar testing by the Navy have been linked to deaths of dolphins due to massive internal hemorrhaging. Noises from boats can interfere with whales trying to hunt for food or communicate with each other, blocking their hauntingly beautiful songs.  A particular problem is the noise created by large tankers cruising the oceans, and underwater exploration for oil. To the fish and other marine life, it can sound like the loudest day in New York City with sirens, horns, and traffic.

Solution: Now that we’ve recognized the problem, we must take all necessary steps to mitigate the noise we create. Marine mammal protection laws must be enacted in coastal nations around the world. Major shipping routes should be moved away from important marine mammal habitats. Ships can be designed so that the engine is isolated from the hull in order to reduce noise. Regular ship maintenance can reduce noise considerably.

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4. Problem: Additional issues impacting our oceans include oil spills, habitat destruction, and human sewage spilling into waterways. Marine scientists measure yearly changes in marine animal populations related to all of the problems outlined here, plus others.

Solution: Technology has given us the ability to monitor even small changes, and share information rapidly. Reading information from a variety of experts is important, as nature is highly complex and issues change with new developments. There are a number of wonderful organizations doing very important work to heal our oceans and protect them for the next generations.

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A Connecticut-based organization that’s doing a wonderful job is SoundWaters. It was founded in 1989 to protect Long Island Sound, a delicate estuary within 50 miles of 25 million people. Humans–and their activities which pose a threat to the health of the Sound–prompted Len Miller to found an organization to educate people both about the Sound’s wonders and the dangers it faces.

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SoundWaters began with a schooner that is a teaching vessel, a floating classroom where students –both children and adults–learn from a hands-on curriculum. Lectures and workshops are presented by ecologists, musicians, artists, and historians, in addition to land-based programs, a summer camp, community gardens and nature programs for older adults.

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“Try to consider having a healthy, viable community with unhealthy air and polluted waters. We cannot, and the connection of a healthy environment to a healthy community, and, in fact, to healthy people, will be one of the many premises we will try to teach at the SoundWaters Community Center,” said Mr. Miller, when the center opened. Today, their schooner, SoundWaters, conducts 250 experiential sails each season for school and community groups throughout the region.

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You can donate to SoundWaters here, or find out how to take an afternoon schooner cruise with your family and friends.

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Here are some other organizations working to protect our oceans that you might consider supporting:

Natural Resource Defense Council: The NRDC works to safeguard the air, the water, and the wild, and the natural systems on which all life depends.

National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas Project: The Pristine Seas Project’s goal is to convince governments to protect more than 2 million square kilometers of ocean, and has financed ten scientific expeditions to remote areas of ocean around the world.

Oceanic Society: The Oceanic Society works to improve ocean health by addressing the root cause of its decline: human behavior.

See Turtles: A project of the Oceanic Society, See Turtles protects sea turtles through education, travel, conservation efforts, and Billion Baby Turtles, working to get turtle hatchlings safely to the sea.

Ocean Conservancy: Science-based solutions to tackle the biggest threats to our oceans.

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With all of our concerns about the health of the ocean, it’s good to remember that there are so many people doing so much good work to protect our beautiful blue waters. One of the best ways to encourage conservation is to gently love our waterways with your family and friends, so boat, swim, fish, or dive to heart’s content, and have a wonderful summer!

Gently green conversations with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

Creating an Oasis of Calm

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Good design is defined by the basics of scale, proportion, color, and contrast, among other considerations. To take the concept of a well-designed home one step further, though, is what I call my “tabula rasa,” the oasis of calm that envelopes us when we step inside our doors at the end of the day. Here are my thoughts on how to create that oasis, with simple ways to make your home welcoming, warm, and comfortable to live in.

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Repetition of design elements, such as the columns in this beautiful beachside home, mirror each other from room to room, and define a space. Repeated in subtle ways throughout a house, they are the details that subconsciously soothe with symmetry.

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In this New York City bedroom, the Greek Key is repeated in furniture, floor and bed linens, relaxing in its soft echoes.

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Simple ways to reduce clutter, such as window seats with drawers for storage underneath, keep a room open and serene. I often say that “the eye needs a place to rest.” So does the mind, and the body.

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Tradition is restful for many of us. Finding fine antique pieces to blend in with more contemporary furnishings is calming.

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Surrounding yourself with the things you love is an important way to make your home unique, and fill you with joy every time you enter a room. Billy Baldwin said, “Nothing is interesting unless it is personal.” I would suggest that your most personal treasures that truly express your essence will do so much to lift your spirits.

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Adding one stunning piece that is both eye-and heart-catching can be a singular focal point, another way to gracefully express your interests.

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The color palette that I turn to over and over again is white plus one color. There are so many whites to choose from: crisp white, cool greyed tones, soft blue hues, or rosy tints when the sunlight streams through the windows. It’s pleasing to the eye and the spirit.

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An invisible way to restore energy and help to clear your body of toxins you’ve come across during your busy day is by installing a good heat recovery ventilation system and a whole house air filtration system, for exchanging, filtering and conditioning indoor and outdoor air to lower VOCs.  Honeywell has some that I like that will work with your heating and cooling systems, and recover up to 80% of the heating and cooling energy. Choosing No-VOC paints and finishes keep our homes a haven where our families can enjoy good food, good company, and good health.

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At the very least, invest in a good bedroom air filter, as your liver detoxes during your sleep. Clean air is the best gift you can give yourself to feel your very best.

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Luxury and comfort are not mere indulgences in my mind. Bespoke bed linens, downy comforters, and lofty pillows all summon us to sleep in a place of refuge. An organic mattress filled with cotton and wool and made without chemicals, including fire retardants, is a good choice.

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Don’t forget the bathroom as a space for luxury and well-deserved pampering. Soft towels, natural shampoos and soaps free of irritating chemicals, and organic cotton pajamas waiting by the bath allow us to sink into a restful soak when the sun goes down. Take time for your own end-of-day rituals.

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Oscar Wilde wisely said: “I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”

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Make your home one of simple pleasures, and a place to savor the all-too-fleeting delights of summer. It’s the easiest path to finding peace of mind.

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