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Posted on April 14, 2017
Cornwall Bridge IDEAS
Institute for the Discovery and Examination of Artistic Sensibility
RENOVATION AND THE GREAT REBUILD
I spent most of 2016 in a heightened state of anticipation. The idea to rebuild my pottery workshop to make it more functional in the winter and improve the efficiency for production was hatched as I was drifting into my 41st winter as a potter in Connecticut. It was late in the day in December 2015 and as I faced the prospect of yet another winter of torturous cold in an inhospitable workshop I had an offer to help me undertake a major renovation that would create a new and friendly space. This came from a very close friend and confidant. Looking back now the largess and generosity seem inconceivable. It was no strings attached and originated from a place of deep compassion for my plight and a profound respect for my work and vision. It triggered the birth of CB IDEAS, a not for profit corporation primarily designed to formalize the driving engine of my career--training like-minded people to make pots that reflect a deep respect for the trade and strive for artistic excellence.
The design phase began immediately. I am honored to have worked with Architect Anna Christine Gray, a childhood friend of my youngest daughter on the first solo project of her career. By April of 2016 demolition began in earnest and we were pouring concrete over radiant heat tubing by late August. I should add that in the midst of what felt like unbearable complications due to building,permitting, staffing,coordinating timing and construction, my 90 year old mother --the rock of my world (along with my wife Evie) and model for navigating the challenge of life in all of its messiness, passed away. Suddenly, June 2, I found myself dealing with both great anxiety about the future of my career and almost debilitating grief and continuous and complex details surrounding her estate. In September framing of the workshop began. Fortunately I had contracted with a very talented and experienced craftsman, John Busha, and the work continued uninterrupted for about 6 weeks. The weather was very favorable and his sub-contractors very skilled so the finished result is sound and built to last 500 years, as you can see from the above photos. In finishing I had the assistance of a newly formed company named Riga Builders. They assigned a Russian man and his son to address window/door and siding installation.
Once again I had the privilege of working alongside very proficient and proud craftsman. The plumber, Eric Tomaino, the electrician Frank Ghi and Brad Hedden, and my finish crew Rick King and Ian Abrams deserve kudos for their workmanship and commitment to fine work at a fair price. Finally i want to make mention of a man and his son that were metaphorically and professionally the 'rocks' of this endeavor. Dusty Blass and his son Jake run a company called D. Blass Excavating. He piloted this job from demolition, through excavation for the foundation and then a return in early December to 'polish' it all up by restoring the grade and removing mountains of rubble and useless stone. Every day he was on the job he timed the end so that there was a profound sense of a a full days work over. The stopping point a reflection of that and great thought put towards leaving the site neat, orderly and ready for the next step. I call Dusty Michael-Angelo of the Backhoe and if you ever have the need for someone with his expertise -- excavation, landscaping, septic work and even snow plowing -- I'd advise you jump at that chance. By the way it looks like his son Jake is endowed with the same work ethic. When you hire Dusty you get 2 for 1.
Of course, there is lot's more to talk about but for the purposes of this website Homepage this will suffice. Stay tuned for more information about the workshop study and participation offerings through CB IDEAS. As they take shape there will be a link here to signup and be part of the pottery --firings, exhibitions,demonstrations and lectures. Also I will be adding a chapter to the Memoir: A Potter's Perspective about the full scope of the year of renovation. I will announce when and where that will available. If you'd like to read the Memoir in its entirety completed to date you can click on this link: A Potter's Perspective: The Learning Curve .
Until next time. all the best!