Saturday, July 30, 2011

Work Which Tells a Story

Over ten years ago I was asked to make a gate which would mount in the doorway between kitchen and dining room of a home. The owners wanted the canine members of the family confined to the kitchen space so visitors, especially young children, wouldn’t be bothered by them.

After deciding the technical details, discussion turned to the design theme and how it might reflect things meaningful to the owners. The clients were intellectual people with backgrounds in psychology and physical therapy and avid readers. Eventually we settled on an interpretation of the opening lines of William Blakes’ Auguries of Innocence. It has served as inspiration for countless other artists.

To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.

The gate was free to swing both in and out and had a spring catch like the old fashioned garden gate so the over all look might be appropriate to a garden entrance. The sunflower is a natural for Kansas although the poem isn’t specific about the wild flower. Symmetry could suggest a Rorschach inkblot test which a psychologist might appreciate.

With the frame constructed and fitted and these ideas floating around, sketch work was chalked out on the layout table and test pieces were done. The design was necessarily tight because a 3” code was specified based on the dogs snout shape.

Eventually it all came together with the poem guiding the way and was installed and worked well. I got to visit it from time to time which is unusual for most of my projects. Today, I wouldn’t do it the same way and my skills have improved quite a bit but every work is fixed in its own time.

The family mowed to another state after retirement and the gate went with them. They kindly sent me a photo of it in place in its new home. I hope to visit it there eventually and the friends too, of course.

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