Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Artists and craftsmen at Think Long Island First

Think Long Island First logo
We are approaching the end of the year and the closure of our third month in operation. We are truly grateful for the wonderful support of the Long Island public and the Long Island artists and craftsmen. It has been a pleasure to work with All!

Please accept our best wishes of health, happiness and prosperity for the holiday season and the approaching New Year.

Jolanta and Ewa

We would like to take this opportunity to list the talented artists and craftsmen of Long Island whose work you have admired at Think Long Island First.

Mollie Eckelberry, Muttontown
Natasha Guruleva, Mastic Beach
John Hammond, Oyster Bay
John Ross, Southold

East End Candle Company, Riverhead

Character Bears
Meryl Friedberg Ambrose of Q Branch Ltd, North Merrick

Diane Bard of Know Peace Soap, Sea Cliff
Catapano Goat Farm, Peconic
Barbara Karlowich, Sea Cliff
Frédérique Keller of BeePharm, Northport
Susan Linares of Naturally Handmade by Susan, Franklin Square
Lidia Zacharska of Lilas Herbs, Westbury

A Taste of the North Fork, Cutchogue
Jennifer Hochberg of Stone Ridge Farm, East Norwich
Nicole Basso of The Tea Plant, Huntington
North Fork Potato Chips, Mattituck

Jane Cairns Irvine of Glassworks by Jane Cairns Irvine, Glen Head

Mary Baker, Glen Cove
Ellen Davis of Bagg-E, Long Beach
Donna Lee Trunk of Donna Lee Fiber Arts, Shoreham
Teresa Ricciardelli, Glen Cove

Donna Barrett of Donna Barrett Jewelry Inc., Sea Cliff
Jane Cairns Irvine of Glassworks by Jane Cairns Irvine, Glen Head
Heather Campbell, Syosset
Cynthia Chuang and Erh-Ping Tsai of Jewelry 10, Locust Valley
Kate Gilmore of Kate Sydney, Northport
Gea Hines of Dinky Beads, Greenlawn
Alice Rhodes Farber, Huntington Station
Gail Vassiliades, Northport
Debra Warlan of Maake & Co, Huntington 

Knits, fabric arts
Mary Johnson, Bethpage
Donna Lee Trunk of Donna Lee Fiber Arts, Shoreham 
Gail Ryan, Mount Sinai
Rosemarie Taylor, Miller Place
Theresa Wasserman of Puddin Heart Treasures, Hicksville
Carrie Wood of Temptress Yarn, Baldwin

Homa Monassebian, Oyster Bay

Kokila Jodi Bennett, Roslyn Heights
Eric Marten, Franklin Square

Yvonne Dagger, Massapequa
Caitlyn Dailey, Huntington Station
Susie Gach Peelle, Locust Valley
James Johansen, East Northport
Cathy Nichols, Centerport
Gerhard Richter, Floral Park
Alice Rhodes Farber, Huntington Station

Paper cuts
Frank Cammarata of Mr C's Paper Cuttings, Holbrook

Gerry Corrigan, Merrick
Scott Cushing, East Meadow
Harvey Hellering, Riverhead
Christina Kneer of Christina Kneer Fine Art Photography, Massapequa
Mark Strodl, West Babylon
Irene Treiber, Sea Cliff

Bettina Marks of cPillow Talk, East Atlantic Beach
Alice Rhodes Farber, Huntington Station

Diane Craft, Oyster Bay

Sue Adler, Locust Valley
Deborah Del Vecchio of Fire Works Pottery by Deb, Brightwaters
Donna Ferrara of Maple Leaf Pottery, Sea Cliff
Denise Randall of Contemporary Artifacts, Massapequa

Jane Pearlson of Quilts of Distinction, Huntington
Sherry Phelps of Nana's Quilted Hugs, Glen Cove

Thomas Malloy, Glen Head

Sports - baseball bats
Bill Cardinale, Massapequa

Robert Ambrose of Q Branch Ltd, North Merrick
Gerry Corrigan, Merrick
Beth Costello of My Inner Child Doll, Glenwood Landing
Mollie Eckelberry, Muttontown
Yolande Epstein of Lavender by the Bay, East Marion
Susie Gach Peelle, Locust Valley
Diane Hanna of Bello Marco Polo, East Norwich
Christina Kneer of Christina Kneer Fine Art Photography, Massapequa
Annemarie Levin, Oyster Bay
Ralph Pugliese of East End Greetings, Cutchogue

Beth Costello of My Inner Child Doll, Glenwood Landing

Natasha Guruleva, Mastic Beach
Dawn Stewart-Lookkin of Tako Kids, Queens

Wood objects
Robert Ambrose of Q Branch Ltd, North Merrick
Don Dailey, Huntington Station
Mike Denaro, Oyster Bay
Paul Lieberman, Melville
Harry Wicks, Cutchogue

Writing pens
Robert Ambrose of Q Branch Ltd, North Merrick 
Paul Lieberman, Melville

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Think Long Island First on local TV

We have been graced with media attention in the recent days. We want to share that with you.

News 12 anchor, Carol Silva, wanted to present gifts carried by Think Long Island First in her seasonal Gift Guide for the holidays.

We were asked to provide five representative items out of the great selection of arts, crafts, food, candles, etc, we had in store. Not an easy task, we assure you.

When Carol came to the store to pick up the items she was so impressed with the wonderful things we carried she kept on selecting more and more items to present. She loved hearing about the people behind the gifts.

If you have problems viewing this clip online, this link will take you to the Long Island Gift Guide 2010 on News 12.

Waldo Cabrera, president / anchor / director at My Long Island TV,, interviewed us and filmed our store a few weeks back.

Even though we talk about our mission to anybody who stands still longer than few seconds, it was exciting to present Think Long Island First on camera. We were very grateful to Waldo for filming the store and for interviewing our customers.

If you have problems viewing the clip here, this link will take you to the Think Long Island First video on

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

John Specce of Oyster Bay Railroad Museum

John Specce and Jolanta Zamecka
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Jolanta and I wanted something really festive in our display window for the holidays. We have approached John Specce, President of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum and a neighbor in town. John set up for us a small oval layout (gauge O for the initiated) with a Diesel locomotive and a few cargo cars. As a finishing touch he sat a Santa with two cute mice in one of the cars, long tails and all. Children of all ages stop by our window and gaze at the train. We love sounding the horn for them; it feels rather special.

Oyster Bay Railroad Museum, located at 102 Audrey Avenue in Oyster Bay, collects and preserves Long Island railroad artifacts with the historic Locomotive #35, one of two steam locomotives on Long Island, among them. The museum also displays signaling equipment, signs, station master's desk with an old telephone and telegraph, railroad workers' uniforms and hats, and many other items.

The museum is open every weekend between 12 pm and 4 pm. It is well worth a visit on any weekend, but it is even more so this coming Saturday and Sunday, December 11th and 12th, when the museum hosts the Holiday Express event with special attractions.

John Specce grew up in Kew Garden, 500 feet from the Kew Garden station and with the family's third floor apartment allowing a full view of the passing trains. The trains fired John's imagination. The interest was kept by his parents who used to magically transform John's small room into a train kingdom every Christmas night.

After moving to Oyster Bay in the 70's John used to take his lunch break at the station to watch the trains arrive and leave Oyster Bay. Mill Neck station was another great watching place, he would bring his young sons with him there. Even today John may hop on the train to the city, walk to Grand Central, and take a train on a line he had not yet explored.

One day John attended a presentation about the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum organized by one of the civic communities in Oyster Bay. He embraced the organization and its mission. He is now its President and an acting administrator. All the staff members on board of the museum are volunteers devoting countless hours to preservation, reconstruction and education in all matters related to local railroads. The worthy organization welcomes members and volunteers, accepts donations and sponsorship.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Whimsical jewelry by Cynthia Chuang and Erh-Ping Tsai

Artists Cynthia Chuang and Erh-Ping Tsai of Jewelry 10 create brilliant jewelry in their Long Island studio. Flappers, skippers, feathery creatures, land roamers, and many other colorful, whimsical creatures come from their kilns to the amusement and admiration of all.

Lizard by Cynthia Chuang and Erh-Ping Tsai of Jewelry 10
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht

Cynthia and Erh-Ping were college sweethearts. They met at the National Taiwan Academy of Arts while studying ceramics. They have both arrived to New York to study at Parsons The New School for Design. There could not have been a biggest contrast between their technically rigorous Taiwan training and the mind stretching approach at Parsons. Cynthia and Erh-Ping were the lucky recipients of the benefits of both systems. They have made New York a permanent home, eventually settling in Locust Valley.

Cynthia Chuang with a lizard
on her shoulder
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Looking at their awesome creations, perfectly finished, almost effortless, it is difficult to imagine the amount of work going into each piece. Every item is made of porcelain clay inlays; the dyed clays make the design. Considering the small size of each element, great precision is required in assembling the tiny patterns. Imagine putting together a miniature checkerboard.

Porcelain parts are first bisque fired and then fired with a clear glaze over them. Some colors require multiple firing to different temperatures, for instance, the cheerful red ladybugs featured below require up to 5 firings. Every firing may take from 5 to 10 hours. Metal parts are attached at the end. There are many things that can go wrong in the process - the clay may be inconsistent, the colors may bleed, a piece may explode inside the kiln, the opening for the metal part may glaze over.

Ladybugs by Jewelry 10
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Overcoming the technical challenges are only a part of the creative process. Design is even more difficult. It takes an experienced eye to start with a nature's small critter and turn it into an eye catching and interesting piece of jewelry. Countless hours of design and experimentation are spent on this stage.

I must say that after learning about their technology and the creative process I have gained even greater appreciation for the work of the couple and I was already an admirer! Jewelry 10 has a steady following with collectors picking their favorite pieces throughout the years.

The couple's website includes a very interesting section "The Way We Were" describing the stages of their artistic development. The site also displays what the future may bring - the couple is experimenting with metal as a creative medium.

Friday, November 26, 2010

10 top reasons to buy locally made stuff

Think Long Island First logo
We might be preaching to the choir here, but let us entertain you with our own take on why buying locally made stuff is important.

1. Supporting your neighbor. Thanks to your choice of buying a locally made article, you are supporting a craftsman, your neighbor actually, who, like you, pays the insane property taxes, sends children to college, and attempts to live a respectable life on Long Island. It may not be easy on your regular salary, it is even more difficult for somebody whose livelihood may not be so settled. It takes time, energy, and lots of trial and error to produce a good quality, beautiful object.

2. Value of price. Your locally made article will most likely be more expensive than a mass produced item of a similar function. This is not necessarily bad. You will probably buy fewer such items (think of the time and energy saved on the next decluttering project!) but become very fond of each one you get. You will learn to care for it and it will serve you for a long time.

3. Value of beauty. Since you will expect to shell out more on a locally made item, you will make sure it is not only functioning as expected but it is also pretty. There are obvious benefits to surrounding yourself and people you love with beautiful things.

4. Value of spirit. Your holiday list may include people you would rather serve poison than offer a gift. Statistically speaking you are not alone. However, judging by a relatively low murder rate on Long Island, you probably go and buy that gift every year. Maybe for once you will make it something special and get a meaningful, locally made item. Even if this does not turn out to be a life changing experience for the gift receiver (well, some folks are just beyond repair), you may gain a new respect for yourself. A local artist will definitely be grateful!

5. Uniqueness. Anybody ever subjected to an embarrassment of spending a more or less formal evening in a dress identical to a dress worn by another guest will attest to the horrors of such a situation. Even the most resolute sense of humor may not be enough to lessen the mental anguish and carry the evening. Buying a hand made, unique dress, necklace, ring, scarf, etc, should liberate you from such unpleasantness. You may value it highly, unless, of course, you are a twin.

6. Distance less traveled. Granted, Long Island, though rich in many ways, does not produce a lot of raw materials - fabrics, metal, paper are all brought from other places. By having the final item made locally you remove at least one leg from the travels of a product.

7. Creative up-cycling. Many artists and craftsmen reuse items already here, be it a recycled glass or a rewoven fabric. No large factory could afford being so creative and so environmentally progressive.

8. Value of knowing the person behind the product. You have an opportunity to meet the artist or craftsman who made your mug, bowl, jam, soap, scarf, etc. You develop a new appreciation for the work done by the talented folks and for their creative process. It never hurts to let a bit of admiration for their ingenuity, skill, and passion to enter your life. Who knows, maybe you will feel inspired and try your hand at spinning, weaving, pottery, wood turning, etc.

9. It is made safely. Your neighbor, the artist, is less likely to pollute your air and water - he/she and his/her family are breathing and drinking the same air and water you are consuming.

10. It is easy to be green. Buying locally made things is probably the easiest environmental investment aside from replacing your old light bulbs and fixing leaky faucets. Everybody benefits from your simple choice - you, your friends and family, the artists, and Long Island.

Buy local. Shop Long Island.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Knitting, weaving, spinning, instruction, fun

We had an excellent time at our Long Island Knits event today. Our guests, Donna Lee Trunk, Carrie Wood, and Theresa Wasserman, were busy giving instructions and explaining the work required to make the beautiful woven, knitted, spun or crocheted things they do.

It was great having the three ladies and other guests at one table. Aside from expert instructions, the ladies were fun! We were occasionally surprising the Buckingham shoppers with outbursts of laughter. And why not?

Carrie took her spinning wheel outside; passersby were curious to see the demonstration, we even had one man try his hand at spinning. Jolanta and a few guests joined Carrie with their work on the sidewalk.

Hope you will enjoy the photos from the event.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meet the Maker: Jane Cairns Irvine, glass artist

Thursday, December 2nd, 5 pm - 7 pm

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Renown glass artist, Jane Cairns Irvine, will present her glass art at Think Long Island First in Oyster Bay on Thursday, December 2nd between 5 pm and 7 pm.

Think Long Island First store carries her colorful glass jewelry, her captivating wind chimes, wine stoppers, swizzlers, and one of a kind decorative glass items.

Jane runs a successful studio in Glen Head, NY, where she creates her own work and introduces students of all ages to the magic of fused glass.

Fused glass applies an ancient technology where glass is fired in a kiln to a high temperature producing very strong, colorful glass. Modern designs push the creative aspect of fused glass to a new level.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jane Cairns Irvine, magic of fused glass

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Jane Cairns Irvine, glass artist from Glen Head, comes from a family of Scots from Edinburgh. True to her Scottish origin Jane played drums in a Scottish band where her father played bagpipe. Jane attributes some of the characteristics of her more complex artistic designs to her heritage.

The family had a well exercised creative touch - her father, an electrical engineer, built a model space ship with an airplane control for the kids ("it was called the X15!  it was made of wood and masonite panels, painted, with cut out little airplane style windows and real airplane controls inside.  it was wonderful! :)  we spent hours and hours, weeks, years playing in it. we took many wonderful adventures with friends!") and is now designing architectural lighting installations; Jane's mother engaged in crafts of all kinds. Growing up Jane participated in the 4H program of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, an activity she remembers fondly.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Though Jane's formal art training included painting lessons at the Stevenson Academy in Oyster Bay and training with Nan Coffey, portrait artist from Locust Valley, she is entirely self taught in the matters of glass art. She has and is experimenting with designs, shapes, colors and techniques. This gives her an expertise that comes with a fearless trial and error approach. Jane can now well predict the outcome, with, as she modestly adds, occasional surprises.

She does her own firing in one of her four kilns. Firing is a lengthy and expensive process; it takes about 14 - 16 hours to fire the kiln to 1,440F and then to cool it down to the room temperature. Fused glass can be surprisingly sturdy as a result of the process; it is strong enough to withstand the beating of strong northeasters as tested by Jane on a few sets of wind chimes on her own porch.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Fusing glass into submission involves various steps and techniques; some cheerful like color and pattern selection, some a bit dangerous like glass grinding and sawing which should be exercised with caution. Jane created a wonderful piece called "Shattered Dreams", a work of personal significance, where crashed glass was used to a great effect.

Jane designs glass jewelry, glass sculptures and wall hangings of various proportions. Some of the larger formats are on display at the gift shop of the Nassau County Museum of Art. Jane's website displays photos of many of her works. Our store carries her colorful jewelry and the captivating wind chimes made from recycled bottles.

Jane is not only a working artist, she also teaches classes at her workshop Studio 44 at 44 Railroad Plaza in Glen Head (phone: 516.216.4630) and also at the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills and at the Great Neck Adult Program in Great Neck. One of her former teaching projects, a month long undertaking at a Sea Cliff school attended by her daughter, had students create a school mural of their own design; Jane donated her time and firing.

Jane will be our guest artist at the Meet the Maker event at the store on December 2nd, between 5 pm and 7 pm.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Donna Lee Trunk, unique wearable art

Donna Lee Trunk of Donna Lee Fiber Arts, specializes in unique wearable art. Her pieces range from small items to coats; they are all made from natural fibers in nature inspired colors.

Donna Lee Trunk's both grandmothers were involved in crafts, one in sewing, one in knitting. Donna experimented with macramé and wood working in her college / hippie years. A Loom - a wedding gift from her husband, John, made Donna look for weaving instructions. She found them at the Paumanok Weavers Guild where she eventually acted as co-president. A Christmas gift - spinning wheel, directed Donna to the Spinning Study Group in Smithtown. She trained and took expert workshops with masters of the craft: spinning with Patsy Zawistoski, felting with Carol Huber Cypher, knitting with Iris Schreier, knitting and design with Louisa Harding, among others.

She has been active in the field for the last ten years or so; runs her studio in Shoreham, participates in shows, has web presence at, teaches hands-on natural dyeing, spinning, weaving, knitting and felting at various venues including 20 Long Island libraries. She has recently received a New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA) grant to teach fiber arts to the community including adults, youth and art teachers in schools. She is now in the process of organizing classes at Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead. Teaching comes naturally to her; she loves her craft and it helps that she studied psychology, sociology and education.

Her alpacas. There are two - ten year old Fitzroy, white coat, and five years old Gordon, black coat. The two boys are doing very well indeed. They are well adapted to Long Island environment, they enjoy the winter, their shearing time falls right before the hot summer months. They even like traveling in Donna's minivan to craft presentations around the area. Their gentle nature makes them a good company. Fitzroy and Gordon draw a fair share of attention on the few occasions when Donna takes them out for a walk around the neighborhood. How frequently does one see alpacas strolling through a quiet Long Island street?

With proper care one can get about 5 lbs of hair a year from one alpaca. Shearing is done by an expert from an alpaca farm. Donna spins and dyes the wool herself. She likes using her own dyes - marigolds for yellow/gold color, poke weed berry for purple, beets for red, onion skins for light brown, black walnut for dark brown. She plans to experiment with sumac bush and Concord grapes next.

The next thing - decorative fiber art, an exciting new chapter. It will be interesting to see where the inspiration takes her.

In the near future, Donna will be one of the guest knitters at the Long Island knits event on Saturday, November 13th, between 11 am and 3 pm.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Theresa Wasserman, passion for knitting

Theresa Wasserman, a knitter from Hicksville, remembers knitting taking place around her since she was a little girl. Both her grandmothers, Italian ladies from Sicily transplanted to Canarsie, were confirmed knitters. One used to knit skeets, as she called them, tiny slippers for sliding on the wooden floors of a long hallway. The other specialized in blankets.

Theresa first picked up needles at the tender age of 7, she started by making blankets and afghans. She never stopped.

After knitting various items as gifts for friends and family, Theresa opened her own business under the name Puddinheart Treasures. She attends local craft shows, takes custom orders, and now also sells her work via a retail store - ours, we are glad to say! She can be reached at

While busy with her professional life she always found time for knitting and crafts; it was a family tradition to employ minds and hands in creative pursuits. She remembers wearing shoes made by her grandfather; the wooden forms made by him are to this day a cherished family memento. Theresa's father enjoys wood turning, painting, drawing, he also makes silhouettes.

Theresa is proud of her thrift. She takes leftover ends from other craftsmen, hunts for vintage yarns, buttons, beads and various other objects. She loves using them in her work, particularly the accessories. She also uses commercial yarns. She knits in the European style, likes to embellish patters that please her and invents her own when needed.

Think Long Island First carries her scarves, hats, blankets, flower pins, cute pumpkin hats for kids, etc. She will be one of the guest knitters at the Long Island knits event on Saturday, November 13th, between 11 am and 3 pm.

Long Island knits

Saturday, November 13th, between 11 am and 3 pm

Come join us with your yarn and needles at the Think Long Island First store in Oyster Bay on Saturday, November 13th, between 11 am and 3 pm.

Knit alongside the three accomplished Long Island knitters - Donna Lee Trunk of Shoreham, Carrie Wood of Baldwin and Theresa Wasserman of Hicksville.

See the yarns transformed into wonderful, warm, decorative wearables.

Take this opportunity to stock up on hats, scarves, handbags, etc.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meet the Maker - Donna Ferrara

Thursday, November 4th, 5 pm - 7 pm

Photo couresy of
Donna Ferrara
Meet the renown potter Donna Ferrara who will present her work at the store. She will be happy to answer questions about her pottery and the creative process behind it.

Donna first studied pottery with the Japanese potter Makoto Yabe and later trained at the Radcliffe Pottery Center at Harvard. She now runs a successful studio where she creates her own work and teaches students at all levels.

Her artistic explorations into shapes and glazes result in highly functional and beautiful stoneware. In plain words, it's stunnig. You will enjoy using these pieces every day.

Thanksgiving is around the corner; take this opportunity to stock up on the serving dishes, plates, tea sets and more, all made by the artist in her Sea Cliff studio. They make great gifts, too!

Photos by Ewa Rumprecht

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let us introduce our store

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
After a few years of brainstorming and research Jolanta and I have decided to put the idea of promoting things made on Long Island into action and open a store carrying all kinds of things made locally.

We have been searching for a rental space within our area for a few months and have eventually settled on a store within a store inside an old nickel and dime shop in Oyster Bay called Buckingham Variety Store.

We have officially opened our doors last Thursday with artist Harry Wicks, wood turner from Cutchogue, as our main guest. We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Harry for accepting our invitation. We also want to thank All guests who joined us at the Thursday event and All well-wishers who sent us flowers and congratulations. Generous folks of the Rottkamp Brothers Farm from Old Brookville delighted the guests with the delicious apples from their orchards.

Setting up the store was fun. We have been very lucky in having the Buckingham's Store Manager Jason Protter and his helpful staff at our side. We had another stroke of luck in a person of James Johansen, East Northport painter, who not only painted our store sign but also helped us give a new life to the display furniture we have upcycled; James did such an excellent job that we had to shield numerous offers for the pieces long before we filled them with goods. Our friends and family were simply wonderful with their help and support. Apologies for not mentioning them All here. Many thanks!

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
When we first started the project we were a bit discouraged. We had not been finding that many things made locally. It seemed that whatever we consumed was made elsewhere. We have since learned that there are many talented folks here; we are meeting them daily. At the time of writing the store carries wood turned objects, pottery, paintings, photography, quilts, knits, jewelry, lamp shades, candles, cosmetics, honey, jams and jellies. Quite a mix.

We hope you will take a ride to historic Oyster Bay to see the area and to visit the store. The approaching Oyster Fest scheduled for the weekend of October 16th - 17th might be a good time. We are looking forward to your visit.

Friday, September 24, 2010

THINK LONG ISLAND FIRST store opens October 7th

We are pleased to announce
Thursday, October 7th 
2 pm to 9 pm

The Think Long Island First store is located inside Buckingham Variety Store at 36 Audrey Avenue in historic Oyster Bay.

Our guest for the day will be artist Harry Wicks, wood turner from Cutchogue, who will present his works starting at 5 pm.

The store carries goods made on Long Island - wood turned objects, pottery, photography, knits, jewelry, jam & jellies, soaps, honey and more.

Please join us in celebrating the skill, talent, and resourcefulness of Long Island artists and craftsmen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harry Wicks, uncovering beauty in wood

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
A lot has been written about Harry Wicks, wood turner from Cutchogue, and about his work. Harry himself, at times a magazine editor, produced six books, some for large companies, some published under his name. Harry's website is a good source of information and includes many photos of his work.

Native Long Islander from a farming family that settled in Western Nassau and Queens in early 19th century, Harry cannot recall any artists among his ancestors. He obtained a degree in graphic illustration from the Pratt Institute, one of the best art schools in the country. In his professional life in carpentry, furniture making, and publishing, he created many prototypes and designs, and participated in countless projects. Harry eventually discovered wood turning, taught himself the turning and varnishing techniques, stocked his workshop, and decided to devote all his creative powers to it.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
On our two visits to Harry's workshop we were welcome by classical music blasting full steam. Harry has the music on to muffle the sound of his tools and the hum of air purifiers. The sequence of compositions, either classical or jazz, is carefully planned by Harry to match his mood, his energy level and the energy of the piece with which he works. Harry will frequently stop just to listen to a particular passage; Puccini may bring his work day to an end, as after hearing his music nothing more can be added in any medium.

We have talked about the analogy of silence in music to an empty space in a vessel. Both are significant and, when used properly, enormously effective. You will see this principle applied in many works of Harry.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Harry turns both dry and green wood. He will start by taking a piece of wood, will draw an initial sketch, study the wood, work it and then adjust the original design as he uncovers layers in the wood - sometimes problems, more often nice surprises.

He may turn a perfectly finished piece, geometrically complete, so to speak, and classical in form, where exact shape of wood is well under control. He may also allow the wood's qualities to take over the piece, let bark with its rugged contour become a design element, a bit like improvisation or rubato in music. There is beauty and harmony in both approaches.

He likes working with fruit wood, his sources are more often local than otherwise. Part of his work comes from clients who commission Harry to create pieces from a recently fallen or felled tree of historical or emotional significance to the clients. It happens that some trees are too diseased to be used, but there are many happy endings. Circle of Mercy series was one of such successful and meaningful projects, created for Our Lady of Mercy Academy, a school attended by one of Harry's granddaughters.

Listen to Harry talk about his work and present a few of his pieces.

It is sometimes said that shoemakers' wives go barefoot. We are pleased to say Harry's lovely and supportive wife does not fall into the above category. Harry, with the help of his sons, built the house where the couple now lives. Most furniture and many ornamental and utilitarian objects were made by Harry. How much more 'made on Long Island' one can get?

Harry can be reached at 631.734.5738.

Latest update - June 25th 2011

Harry Wicks revisited

Harry Wicks, woodturner-artist from Cutchogue, has been rather busy in the months that passed since we have interviewed him last. Among other projects, he developed new styles of candlesticks and lamps, perfectly utilitarian but very artistic. He also worked with wood from a black locust and a copper beech which were very dear to us. The slideshow below includes examples of his latest pieces (photos courtesy of Harry Wicks).

Harry's son shot a nice video of Harry in his studio, with further examples of the recent work plus a presentation of various stages of the creative process:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thomas Michael Malloy, sculptor in iron and steel

After an early period of watercolors and pastels, Thomas Michael Malloy devoted all his creative powers to metal sculpture. He says, "it feels real" and then adds with a smile "not only because of cuts and burns" (... one acquires while working with sharp metals and welding tools). Metal sculpture is where his natural gifts come through - the ideas, the keen observation (all Tom's sculptures are representational), the sense of proportion, and, his great sense of humor.

Thomas Michael Malloy
His workshop is like a candy store for any artist or tinkerer. Metal parts of old machinery, tools of various industries, decorative metal objects are everywhere you look. His own backyard, a nicely maintained garden, displays a collection of his sculptures - an owl, crow, mad pianist, angel with a trumpet, moon, horses, even a rhinoceros. Since his sculptures are intended for outdoors, Tom applies a protective coating over them. Even with that, many sculptures develop a green patina or a rich rusty color. They seem in place at any time of the year.

(Click the image above to view photos of Tom's work.)

What comes first, an idea of a sculpture followed by a search of appropriate metal parts to match the idea or, vice versa, a found object (Tom has a substantial collection of these) which inspires Tom to create a particular sculpture? Apparently both equally. In the following clip, Tom draws a sketch of a horse and a shovel bird. This is an example of the former approach - idea first, parts later.

During our conversation I have asked Tom to imagine a sculpture that would represent Long Island. His first thought was that it should be a fish to follow the general shape of the island. Then he thought for a moment longer and decided that he would prefer the sculpture to represent a tractor to reflect Long Island's farming past. An interesting choice.

Tom is a colorful person, from his twinkling eyes to his dashing blue hat (it was the first thing I noticed about him; the hat is not just a mere fashion statement - it comes with the expected protection from the rain and sun but also with enough room for air to circulate under the fabric; apparently this was a design preferred by engineers of old; Tom had prudently stashed them while the caps were still available) and a "Romeo y Julieta" cigar ("burns well and tastes good").

Tom's website carries additional information about Tom and many photos of his work. The man himself you can find at his lawn mowing repair shop at 30 Station Plaza in Glen Head, phone: 516.676.3636.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lilith Jones, muralist, in "the highest room of the tallest tower" and beyond

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Be prepared to be enchanted when you walk into "the highest room of the tallest tower" of the Cold Spring Harbor Library, actually the library has only one two-story tower, but what a tower it is!

You enter the brightly lit room; it is circular, arranged like a child size amphitheater with the floor and three steps / seats softened with a carpet; its ceiling is white, the walls are covered by a colorful, evolving scene, gently broken by the rhythm of windows overlooking the harbor area. The simple geometry is so charming, the size so comfortable that you immediately feel captivated.

See the muralist Lilith Jones add new elements to the July landscape scene. The voice recording is not the best, but if you can hear well enough, you will find Lilith's comments invaluable.

The room, in an impressive, new library building, designed by Beatty, Harvey & Associates, was designated as a story time room. The library director, Helen M. Crosson, wanted a mural in there. She commissioned the muralist, Lilith Jones of Huntington, who, with a long list of nature depicting murals in her portfolio, was a perfect choice.

The library, built on the state land, included a nature center. It was befitting that the mural should include the types of ecosystems surrounding the library. Tons of research went into identifying the topography, soil, moisture level, native plants and animals to be rendered in the mural. When it is completed it will present images of 250 species of local plants and animals.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
The mural is arranged to depict the scenes beyond the walls at the changing seasons: woodland with May bloomers, then an imaginary backyard scene with a humid June forest on the left changing into a drier, sandy hill with early July plants; freshwater pond with a mid summer picnic scene follows and extends into another, late August, panel with collected samples. The mural dips in the last panel to include underwater plants and animals, the friendly-looking seal, known to visit the area in October, steals the scene.

When children enter the room, they start exploring the room by running along the round wall. This is exactly the effect the creators have envisioned, the mural is made to be touched. Lilith used durable and safe paints and will coat the walls with a protective layer after the mural is completed to ensure it stays that way for a long time.

Maybe it would not be so bad being a princess locked up in this enchanted tower (perhaps with an access to the stacks and computers). If one were to kiss a frog to turn it into a prince, Lilith would probably know the right specie :).

Lilith's knowledge, talent and charisma are so great, that it's a miracle she is able to paint at all. Children come every few minutes, a lot of them know her from her art classes (she very seriously and with full conviction calls them artists). Adults drop in and chat with her. There is a constant string of admirers, myself included. I have been there five times within the last week or so.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Lilith created murals in various other public and civic places - at the Harborfields Library in Greenlawn, at the Friends Academy in Locust Valley, at the Nature Conservancy in Cold Spring Harbor, or in the kids section of the Book Review in Huntington. She has also painted private rooms in houses of the nature loving folks - it could be an atrium, sun porch, kid's room. Some clients when moving asked Lilith to paint again at the new location. In a few instances she even painted an equivalent of a mural on canvas so that it can be easily relocated. She will recommends images for a particular location to better accommodate the architecture and the size of a room, type of wall, or light in the room changing at different times of day.

Her portfolio can be seen in her gallery.

Lilith has also illustrated two and co-authored one nature book for children: "Wacky Plant Cycles" by Valerie Wyatt and Lilith Jones and "You Don't Look Like Your Mother" by Aileen Lucia Fisher.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Lilith was raised in Locust Valley. Since her childhood she was interested in drawing and in nature. She applied to an art school, transferred to Stony Brook to study biology. The anatomy drawing class brought her back to art. She had studied painting with Stephen Rettegi, Hungarian-American oil painter, for about a year and a half. She immersed herself in the world of great art by reviewing one art book after another in search for interesting ways of the artistic expression. Now she herself teaches painting in the Huntington School of Fine Arts in the high school portfolio program.

Lilith has a deep appreciation for nature, she spent a lot of time around it throughout her life. She not only lived with it but also followed her interest with a diligent study and continuous consultations with naturalists. She was known to erase an object from a mural when it was found out of its environment, for instance, a May flower which was depicted blooming in late August.

She found nature based murals to be a perfect medium for her where she can combine both her passions - art and nature. The collaborative effort involved in creating a mural appeals to her, as well.

Photo by
Ewa Rumprecht
She paints her murals in two different styles, with form depicted by patches of color, like the mural in Cold Spring Harbor Library, or with a form outlined in purple, black or brown, the latter producing lighter images. The selection of technique will depend on the theme, the feeling of the space, and, obviously, the budget.

Themes might be, as she calls them, whimsical and present imaginary figures, usually animals doing imaginary things, like elephants, mice and monkeys reading books in the Harborfields Library murals. Themes might be based on nature and then will be presented true to originals, like the mural at the Cold Spring Harbor Library.

All murals share the same challenges - a proportion of space or perspective and focus at different vantage points. Lilith solves the problems with a pragmatic approach which leaves the viewer not overpowered by the size or location of the murals but charmed by their welcoming and harmonious presence.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Donna Ferrara, stoneware, function and beauty

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
At the time when I first met Donna Ferrara I was still attempting, clumsily and ineffectively, to center a piece of clay on a rotating potter's wheel. Donna was throwing one pot after another, each one perfectly shaped. That was no accident. She had previously studied with Japanese potter Makoto Yabe at Clay Art Center in Allston, MA, and at the Radcliffe Pottery Center at Harvard. She joined Andrew Quient pottery studio in Glen Cove in mid 90's. After Andrew closed his studio and moved to Massachusetts, Donna worked at various other studios on the island and eventually opened her own in Sea Cliff.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
She creates her own works there, but also has a nicely sized group of students, 3-5 per session. She liked the idea of teaching even before, but when put to practice she found teaching very rewarding and inspiring. Some students are advanced, some come with an idea of making a particular piece, maybe a statue of a horse or a dish for some special occasion. There is no strict curriculum, every student is allowed to develop within own area of interest. Donna is there to offer guidance and to teach the technique appropriate for the chosen object.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Donna's professional life before stoneware - she graduated from the School of Visual Arts, with a BFA in painting and printmaking, worked in needlepoint and textile design, was employed in visual display at Conrans - always revolved around creating things beautiful and functional. This carried on into her pottery. You take one of her pieces, it is nicely balanced, it feels right in your hand, it looks beautiful. You want to serve freshly rinsed, ripe peaches in one of her colanders; a hearty meal of pasta is even more inviting in a nice, deep bowl with an earthy feel to it.

Donna's work is ever evolving. She continuously experiments with new colors and shapes. Even the most sophisticated gourmand will settle for a new recipe, Donna will create a new serving dish to match her culinary fancy! This is true luxury and this is how many new shapes come about. Donna takes summers, when it is too hot to fire the kiln, to explore new glazes; she consults pottery magazines and researches formulae recommended by fellow potters.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
As with any experiments, some ideas work, some do not. I was half expecting her kitchen cupboards to be filled with the "rejects". I was wrong, she likes to use dishes that match her high functionality and beauty standards.

More information about Donna's work can be found on her website

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Paean to a local library

Let this post be a paean to a local library.

If you visit your library every other day, and many patrons do, you already know what a great place it is! Not only can you find traditional printed materials, local archives, and multimedia, but also access numerous databases, learn a language, or reserve a free pass for a family trip to a museum. Yoga, crocheting, bridge, finger painting - whatever is your thing, you are sure to find similarly minded neighbors of yours who sign up for classes every day.

Check out your library's website to see the wealth of resources at your disposal. It is your tax money at work and it is a pleasure to see how well it serves you!

Some libraries provide a web tool allowing you to calculate how much you save by using the resources, this calculator is from the Locust Valley Library website. I have done my math and, though I was a very modest library user in recent months and chose to err on the conservative side, my savings came up to over $800 per year! Not bad at all. Think of a family of four!

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Let us look at one library in particular, the Harborfields Library. It serves villages of Greenlawn and Centerport, which at the time of 2000 US Census had combined population of 18,732 between Greenlawn at 13,286 and Centerport at 5,446. The library was started in 1970'ies in a converted school house now substantially expanded to accommodate the growing needs with grace and comfort.

Carol Albano, Director
Ryan Athanas, Assistant Director
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Carol Albano, Director, and Ryan Athanas, Assistant Director, are the very professional, energetic, and cheerful duo at the helm of the Harborfields Library. With 80 staff members, 28 of them full time, they manage to run such a great library, a community center really, that even real estate agents mention it to the prospective buyers in the area! The library also happens to have a great location, just at the center of Greenlawn, within an easy walking distance from the high school, the post office, the train station, and shops.

The library has a good fortune to attract readers of all age groups, including the one statistically most resistant to printed word. Many a parent may have a problem getting junior to do anything brainy, let alone visit a library. The Harborfields Library has thriving young adult programs. The library provides an Xbox and computers, the usual draw, but it must the genius loci that keeps young people coming back.

14,476 registered card holders visited the library 415,782 times and perused 315,156 books and other materials in 2009, that's roughly 22 transactions per year per reader, 1 every two weeks or so. This does not include the 1,049 programs attended by 27,975 participants in that year. Since most of the programs are run by the in-house staff, the librarians are quite busy there.

The Harborfields Library is able to provide all these services thanks to a generous support of the community; the library budget was never voted down in its 40-year existence. The library is also blessed with a very active and progressive thinking group of supporters - Friends of the Harborfields Public Library who are behind various projects making a visit to the library such a rewarding experience.

Mural by Lilith Jones
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Mural by Lilith Jones
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Mural by Lilith Jones
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht

Monday, July 26, 2010

Alan Henriksen, photographer

Last Sunday, I met with photographer Alan Henriksen at the Planting Fields Arboretum for a working photo shoot session. Alan took a series of photos of plants pushing against the stained and whitewashed glass of the main greenhouse. Most visitors go inside the greenhouse and photograph objects within; it takes a photographer's eye to see a potential for great photos from the outside looking in.

We have here a short video of Alan taking the first shots of the session, a warm-up as he called it.

Photo by Alan Henriksen
The image on the right is the first photo taken in the video. You can see stains on the glass and plants inside of the greenhouse. The overall effect resembles an underwater photograph. I guess, this is not how you have envisioned the end result of the take. It was a surprise to me, too. Made me look again and think. And admire.

The combination of natural and man made objects, frequently photographed through windows, are a recurring theme in Alan's latest work. The objects and the reflections in the glass give an interesting sense of space. Check out Alan's website to see his portfolio of varied themes, subjects, and locations. The Sunday photos will be making their way there shortly. Alan is also considering submitting them to a photo competition.

Becoming a photographer, Alan's way

Forest Reflections
Acadia, Maine, 2010
Photo by Alan Henriksen

Alan Henriksen, a Long Island native, comes from a seafaring stock. His grandfather, Henrik, still holds the world record for Atlantic salmon. Alan's father, Hans, who served as an engineer in the Norwegian navy during World War II, was also an expert fisherman. He married and started a family in the US following WWII. Alan grew up exposed to Long Island's forests and its surrounding sea. His family's homes in Massapequa Park and, later on, Oakdale were adjacent to large nature preserves, which he explored extensively. The family also went on frequent fishing trips, either in the family boat or on occasional outings to Montauk, where they would practice surf fishing in the afternoon and evening, camp overnight on the beach, and continue fishing the following morning. These experiences, on land and water, became a great inspiration for his work.

Alan began photographing in 1958, at the age of nine, with a Kodak Brownie camera. In 1959 he received a small darkroom kit as a Christmas present. The kit included a package of print-out paper, which produced a visible image upon exposure to sunlight, and the trays and chemicals to tone the print and make it permanent.

During his high school years a review of a book of Civil War photographs led Alan to the Sayville Library, where he wandered into the photography section and chanced upon "The Picture History of Photography" by Peter Pollack; Edward Weston's pepper was the first photograph he saw. That moment was an epiphany - Alan decided that photography was the path he would follow. Using savings from his newspaper delivery job, Alan bought his neighbor's camera and darkroom equipment. Later, as editor of the high school yearbook and vice-president of the school's camera club, he had access to a well-equipped darkroom, where he spent many hours improving his printing skills.

In 1966, at age 17, one of Alan's photographs, of a clump of pokeberries against a tree stump, was accepted into the Northwest International Exhibition in Washington state.

Mirror Lake
Yosemite, 1970
Photo by Alan Henriksen

The following year Alan began a correspondence with Ansel Adams, who became his mentor. In 1970, after three years of phone conversations and mail exchanges with Adams, Alan attended the Ansel Adams Yosemite Workshop, where he met Adams in person. Many years later, one of Alan's photos from this trip was accepted into the Yosemite Renaissance Exhibition, which toured California, starting at the Yosemite National Park Museum.

From 1974 to 1983 Alan was employed at Agfa-Gevaert's photo paper manufacturing plant in Shoreham, Long Island. He worked primarily as a sensitometrist, someone who is expert in determining the way in which photographic paper responds to light. This led to Alan's collaboration in the late 70's with Adams, along with photographers David Vestal and Paul Caponigro, on Popular Photography Magazine's project to develop better photo paper. In the late 80's Alan put his knowledge of sensitometry to use by authoring ZoneCalc, a software implementation of Ansel Adams' Zone System of exposure and development, which was marketed by Maine Photographic Resource.

Fast forward some years and technological advances. Though fully equipped to photograph and print using multiple film-based formats, Alan now photographs mostly with a digital camera, and has extended his output to include not only black and white, but also color.

Bar Harbor, Maine 2008
Photo by Alan Henriksen
Boards and Tarp
Searsport, Maine 2010
Photo by Alan Henriksen
Doors and Reflections
Bar Harbor, Maine 2008
Photo by Alan Henriksen

In addition to the portfolio, Alan's website,, also contains a list of the exhibits and publications. His work has received recognition from major photography magazines and has found its place in serious private collections.

Make sure you read Dean Brierly's excellent interview Alan Henriksen: Contrapuntal Vision.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Portrait in guitar by Scott MacDonald

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Jolanta and I visited luthier Scott MacDonald, owner of the S.B. MacDonald Custom Instruments in Huntington.

Scott builds fewer than a dozen new guitars a year, but when he does, he creates a new being. The new instrument is more than just a bunch of precisely cut wood or metal pieces masterfully glued together, it becomes a reflection and a part of the owner.

Scott attempts to find out as much as possible about the player's musical preferences, the shape, strength and size of the musician's hand, his or her technique and the energy level. This allows him to craft an instrument that performs beautifully in the hands of its owner. It does not hurt, either, that the instrument looks stunning, from its shape to its color and decoration. These are also a reflection of the owner's personality.

The finished product is a result of hard labor and a long dialog between Scott and the musician. It may take up to 24 months between the initial contact and the time the ecstatic owner leaves the shop with a guitar under his arm.

We have asked to have a "portrait in guitar", as I called it, painted of one of us. Since I had a background in music, we have worked on a hypothetical guitar for me. I fancied a strong, rich blues sound and some red accents. We have settled on a black electric guitar with a mother ladybug on the body and baby ladybugs walking all over the neck.

Scott built his first banjo in a college dorm. Some years later he returned to lutherie by first putting together a guitar from a kit, then by trying his hand on building an instrument from scratch. His father still owns this memento. Scott now runs a successful studio where in addition to creating custom ones he repairs all types of fretted instruments - guitars, banjos, ukuleles, mandolins, even lutes. The list of his clients is extensive, with about half of them local.

His instruments have a crisp, full and warm sound. You can find some recordings plus photos of the instruments on Scott's very informative website His Scott's Guitar Blog is a must for a professional.

Scott can be reached at 631.421.9056.

Also listen to Scott show his own ukulele in this YouTube clip:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Eric Marten, fiddler

Eric Marten, violinist, music teacher and historian, delighted the visitors of a school house (c. 1845, from Manhasset) at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration with traditional tunes on this swelteringly hot Independence Day.

Eric played one of four 19th century violins in the possession of the Village. This violin/fiddle differed from a modern day instrument in a number of ways - sheep gut strings produced milder, richer, less metallic sound, the violin had no chin rest and no fine tuners. It was tuned differently from the standard GDAE and its pitch was lower than modern A-440. 

The simple tunes were charming, warm, and catching. It was not difficult to imagine dancers moving gently to the rhythm. If not for the fact that we wanted to preserve the gravitas of the place, were eager to hear more music and more information (and were very hot), we would have danced ourselves, right there, in the small, one room school house.

Eric Marten is the music historian at the museum. He has extensive knowledge of period tunes and instruments. Over the years he has been involved in the works of The Long Island Traditional Music Association (LITMA), where he currently conducts Young Musicians Fiddle Instruction Series workshops, The Barnburners, The Long Island Fiddlemonic Orchestra, The "No Frills" Contradance Orchestra, and various school fiddle clubs on Long Island.

If you need information about traditional tunes, period instruments at the Village, or just want to play music, contact Eric at 1.516.359.3801.

In the following video, Eric plays the fiddle while his wife plays limberjack, a wooden instrument.

More fiddle music performed by Eric can be found on YouTube:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nassau County's Photo Archive Center at Old Bethpage Village Restoration

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
If you have attended the same church every Sunday for the last 20 years, you may have wondered, how did your church look 100 years ago; who would be your neighbor on the bench, whose more or less ample bottoms polished the pew on which you are sitting now, whose kids carved their initials in the soft wood, how were the members of the congregation dressed, what hats were they wearing, did they look prosperous? Answers to these and to many other questions are waiting quietly at the photo archives administered by the Nassau County's Photo Archive Center at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration.

There are researchers, family members delving into their family tree, book authors, historians, organizations celebrating anniversaries of their activies, whose inquiries constitute the bulk of requests for the many images in the archive.

Of the 250,000 images in the archive, 14,000 are catalogued in an electronic format for an easy retrieval. George William Fisher oversees the project from his office/lab at the Restoration. He is a walking font of information on the Long Island photographers, photo techniques, history and industry of Long Island (he is an avid collector of Long Island soda, beer, mineral water, and medicine bottles). He is perfectly suited for his job or rather passion also for another reason, he has years of experience digitizing and archiving data, from human resource files to county records.

One of the current projects at the center is cataloguing the collection of about 4,000 images by Mattie Edwards Hewitt, a landscape and architectural photographer, from Richard Averill Smith's bequest to Nassau County. Hewitt was a very talented photographer who captured numerous architectural treasures of Long Island. Since she published extensively during her lifetime, her photos of Long Island mansions and grounds brought many landscaping ideas to middle class and thus shaped many a neighborhood on the island.

Archives include works by other major Long Island photographers noted for their historical or artistic merit: Henry Otto Korten, John Drennan,William Pickering, Rachel and Lydia Hicks, George Dradford Brainard, and the already mentioned Richard Averill Smith.

Photo Archive Center is located at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Road, Old Bethpage, NY 11804. Tours and visits, by appointment only, can be arranged by calling 516.572.8410.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mark Randall, master gilder and restorer

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Mark Randall, a quiet man with a wide array of interests, does not heavily advertise; his business comes mostly via recommendations of his clients.

Mark's expertise and passion are gilding and restoration of gilded objects - antique frames of varied provenience, furniture, trims, and moldings. If you fancy a dome with high quality gold ornaments Mark is your man!

Mark's studio is located at 183 East New York Avenue, Huntington, NY 11743; visits are by appointment only, 631.423.6346.

He has been at this location for the last 15 years, ever since he completed his gilding courses at Sepp Leaf Products followed by an apprenticeship with the master gilder Peter Stetler in Flushing. After learning the techniques of oil and water gilding, it took Mark 3 years to train his eye to see and to understand how a piece should be handled to assure proper, least invasive, and possibly reversible restoration.

My visit at his workshop was both enjoyable and instructive. It was very interesting to learn about various application methods, clays and glues, differences in color tone between 18 and higher karat gold.

Mark showed me a thin gold leaf, so thin it disintegrated on touch, which he would apply to a prep'ed surface with a brush called gilder's tip. Surface could then be further processed, for instance, it could be burnished with agate tool to desired lustre.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture on Long Island

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
I have learned about the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) from an excellent book by Jane Goodall "Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating". I have looked it up in various sources. Wikipedia Community-supported agriculture article told me about the history of the movement, US Government Community Supported Agriculture site helped me find local farms through the Local Harvest search page.

For the last couple of years I am a member of the CSA program with the Golden Earthworm Farm in Jamesport. At the beginning of a season, sometime around March-April, I pay about $600 for my share. Every Wednesday between June and Thanksgiving, I pick up a box of fresh vegetables from a designated pick up place, in my case a garage of a gorgeous Victorian house in Cold Spring Harbor.

This is a win-win arrangement. The farm gets the funds to run the operations upfront, I get the local, guaranteed organic produce as fresh and crunchy as possible. The risk of failed crop is spread between the farm and the members which ensures the farm stays in business and continues feeding the hungry Long Islanders like myself.

Golden Earthworm Farm is run by Matthew Kurek, James Russo, and Maggie Wood or, as they facetiously sign their communications, Farmer Matt, Farmer James and Maggie. Their 80 acres of land feed 1,500 member families between North Fork and Queens.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Off the couch

There are tons of interesting things to discover on Long Island. Local newspapers advertise events, park visits, museums, etc.

I have my favorite spots on the island and am on a constant lookout for new ones. Word of mouth is, as always, the best, but if that fails, I refer to a couple of publications.

"Short Nature Walks" by Rodney & Priscilla Albright published by The Globe Pequot Press, contains inviting, short and sweet descriptions of various towns, former estates, parks and preserves, beaches, marshes and bogs, whatever they are.

"Hiking Long Island" by Lee McAllister published by New York - New Jersey Trail Conference, lists established trails. This is a serious hiking guide, taking great care to cover all important information. Admittedly I have only attempted shorter hikes listed there, but they were not disappointing.

If the weather is an issue you may want to pick up "Where to Go & What to Do on Long Island" guide, which lists many historical places, museums and other attractions, greater and smaller, a lot of them indoor. This book is out of print.

Obviously, you can get these and other books from Amazon, but why not try a local bookstore. There are still some around. Since we are on a subject of favorites, my favorite is Book Review in Huntington, a very active bookstore with many famous authors holding book signings there.