Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New work....The Renhewitz Tower

   Here in my small town of Leavenworth, Washington, I am inspired by many things....from the rolling hills to the east, to the mountains that hold up the sky to my west. Even the architecture in this quaint tourist town can be inspiring to me....but that's a story for another time.

   Recently I went antique shopping at Apple Annie's, just to see what I might find. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon boxes and boxes of old postcards, some dating back to the early 1900's. I sifted and sifted, trying to find some that piqued my interest aesthetically, and some that caught my eye because of what had been written. I ended up with a handful, but these two struck me with a combination of enchantment and awe.

   The first was a gorgeous monochromatic depiction of some unknown lake...probably across the ocean in Europe. The fine lines captured the feel that particular day, and I found myself falling in love with it...

On the back was a stamp from Switzerland, unused, and ready to be mailed to some unknown recipient.

And then there was this one...

It is addressed to Miss D. Geenen in Madison Wisconsin, and reads:

"Dear Doris,
    After leaving Holland- went thru Northern Germany - Denmark 8 1/3 of Sweden. Even the Germans have given up trying to clear away the rubble in some sectors of Bremen & Hamburg. What a terrible pasting they took.
   I must have been out of my mind to give up the warm spring of Paris for the mid-winter cold of Stockholm.

I found my mind trying to understand what history this postcard records....a man, traveling through war-torn countries, seeing firsthand what Europe looked like in 1950, only a few years after WWII had ended. His word "rubble" paints for me a pictures of bricks, mortar, statues and more, still strewn about the ground, taken apart, just as they had been put together. My mind then travelled back to the brick tower in the first postcard....and that's where my next project was born...

I did a quick sketch, just to give my mind someplace to start.....I thought perhaps this would become a necklace that opens to hold a secret message inside...

So I set about making my "bricks" and "boulders". On the base, I carved the word "Dream", and added a small natural white topaz gemstone.

As carefully as possible, I began to add one brick at a time with my fine tweezers. I began to build....

....and build....

....and soon I needed more bricks....

The doorway on the postcard looked like an arch built with rounded stones, so I carefully and painstakingly created mine the same....

"Please don't fall over again!"

...more bricks....

By this point, I realized the tower was becoming a bee-hive shape, which was not what I anticipated. However, with art and with life, I think we can only control so much....so the design continued...

Looking inside, you can just catch a glimmer of the white topaz gemstone, hidden away from the world.

...and then, the final bricks of the top of the tower! It's difficult to see how the tower in the postcard was finished, but it looks like this could have been one possibility. I was finally done, with only a few bricks to spare.

The piece was then ready to fire....as it heated up to become a permanent piece of metal that would stand the test of time, I pondered who the actors were in this untold story....Doris, most likely was a college student, judging by the Kappa Alpha Theta address on her postcard. Leif could have been a suitor, trying his best at painting a romantic image of his life abroad in Europe. And finally, there is the author of the tower postcard, which I can only make out to be "T. Renhewitz". All searches on the internet lead me to a dead end, so perhaps I won't know who this artist was, or when he lived. But I will know how he lived, by the beautiful day he painted at some idyllic lakeside.

Let's check the kiln....

The Renhewitz tower is done! After some antiquing patina and a little shine, it stands tall and proud, just like the tower in the postcard.

My initials are carved into the bottom...

...and this little tower takes center stage with my other fairy-house/watchtower pieces.

I can't wait to get back to those boxes of postcards at Apple Annie's, and see what else awaits my imagination. I hope that Doris and Leif went on to live long and happy lives, and I hope that T. Renhewitz would be proud that his postcard still paints a picture of a sunny day, long, long ago.

"To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your life depends on it; and when the time comes to let it go, to let it go."
 ~Mary Oliver


  1. LOVE it! It's so awesome that you showed us how you did it. BTW...LOVE that postcard too! lol I'm kind of addicted to collecting and sending them. :)

  2. Great post! It's fascinating to see how you make those tiny towers. :)

  3. Wow! Nice to see your process. I had no idea it was so labor intensive!

  4. The poignant beauty of history mingling with fresh imagination ... the vibrancy of a travel postcard's written words spanning the years like a message in a bottle. The whimsy of a sketched lake in the Swiss Alps now a memory, while a stamp on the other side waits like new to fulfill its purpose. And now a tower, brought to life. From a treasure of an idea to a treasure of a reality, with one also within.

  5. Not just an awesome story, but an awesome piece! Thank you for bringing us along on the journey of its creation. It seems so special that I can't imagine you would really want to give it up for sale.