Saturday, November 25, 2006

holiday in New Mexico

We went to New Mexico last week. I had enrolled in a workshop in Santa Fe and we decided to make a holiday of the trip and extend our stay through Thanksgiving.

To start it off the workshop was great! I had worried that perhaps I had been foolish in thinking it would be worth the trouble and expense it cost. But actually it was so much more than I imagined when I first read about it. The instructor, Betsy Williams, is a graduate of
St. John’s College in Santa Fe. She spent 5 years as an apprentice in Japan. Then returned to New Mexico where she built her home (herself) and her wood firing kiln—which took 2 years to complete. Her focus in this workshop was decorating ware with traditional Japanese techniques—it was very inspiring and I am itching to get into the studio and practice/learn to apply some of what she demonstrated this weekend.

The minute the workshop was over Sunday afternoon we took off north to visit our friends, Johanne and Carl, who live outside Penasco, just south of Taos in the mountains. They, too, built their own home with their own hands. Carl is an incredible wood worker and made all the furniture (tables, chairs, stools, cabinets—kitchen and bath—doors, chests-of-drawers (3), and gorgeous head-board for their bed. Each piece is a work of art—beautiful work. He has also made doors and cabinets for neighbors’ homes—as well as furniture that he sells at the local studio tour each year. They had just returned from a month in Peru—and had wonderful tales to tell of that trip.

On Tuesday they took us to visit a potter friend, Shel Neymark, and his wife, Liz. They, too, built their home and guest house with their own 2 hands! Shel made all the tile work in the house—gorgeous! As well as floor and table lamps and wall sconces! They have Carl’s cabinetry in the bath and the kitchen and Carl's doors throughout their house. They are living in the guest house right now and renting out the main house—but the renter was out of town so we got to see it, too. And Shel's studio with his wonderful ceramic floor lamps and a whimiscal coffee service!

Then, to top it all off, they have a cave in the side of the mountain behind their house! A friend suggested that for $2000 and 2 months he could carve out a guest house in the side of the mountain—and they took him up on the offer—it took 6 months—don’t know about the dollars! It can’t be described—carved into the side of the mountain (sandstone) with gothic type ceilings there are 4 or 5 rooms—depends on how you count the spaces. An entry hall, main room with 2 story high ceiling, kitchenette, bathroom with gorgeous tile work, meditation room, and upstairs (!) a bed room with overhead carving! Shel is also a musician (as is Carl) and has all manner of musical instruments there because of the incredible acoustics. The ‘cave’ has electricity and running water! There are three of the 'seats' you see Jim enjoying below. The next picture is of the bath tub! Of course, those are Shel's tiles!

Wednesday Johanne and Carl left to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family and turned their house over to us. Wednesday we made our trip to Taos. A nice day—but nothing to compare to our experiences in Penasco! Thursday we spent there at Johanne and Carl’s—in retreat!

Then made the LONG trip home on Friday. We left Penasco about 8:00 am and arrived in San Antonio about 11:00 pm! A couple of detours along the way made for a very LONG day in the car.

Hope your holiday was especially nice, too!

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