I was born in Washington, DC in 1945 and lived the first 15 years of my life in Pittsfield, MA. Both my parents had craft talents, my father making products using copper and brass for his business, Bershire Crafts, while my mother did some painting and decorative displays. I spent most of my time outside being physical. I have always pushed the envelope when it came to doing unusual things.
The summer of '64 a friend and I set off from Philadelphia, PA for California on peddle bikes. We slept in jails and cemeteries and spent about $300 each over a period of 3 months. When I was in pilot training in Texas I made paper weights of scorpions and tarantulas using resin casting. I guess that was my first real art work. When I got out of the service I started working in the laboratory at Upstate Medical Center and stayed there for ten years followed by another 29 years in the lab at Cortland Memorial Hospital. During this time I was bored with work that I couldn't see an immediate result so I took up hobby farming which was like a second life for me. When I worked day shift at the lab I would get home around 3:30 pm and just felt like going to bed. When I started farming it was like being reborn because after I got home a new life started for me. You might think sitting on a tractor plowing a field would be boring but every pass I made I could see what I did and it was rewarding.
I think that experience is what keeps me trying new things and surrounding myself with a variety of options. I tried para-sailing and even bought a backpack motor with the option to fly though I never did. I bought roller skis, XC skis, several bikes-did over 2000 miles on my road bike in 2012-, power kites, kyaks, and jump boots. So I kept surrounding myself with options but didn't have a large selection of things to draw from during the winter when the weather kept me inside. So I decided to treat myself on my birthday to a welding course and equipment.
During the 5 week course I also thought that I would like to try working with bottles and glass. After visiting the Corning Museum of Glass and seeing a lamp working display I thought why can't I do that? Watched some videos on Youtube, bought some supplies and started making my own beads. My girlfriend thought they were pretty cool so I made some for her Pandora bracelet and she thought they were as good as the ones I paid $35-65 for. Well, that got me going on flat glass, fusing and slumping so I bought a couple of kilns, one for beads and one for bigger stuff.
Going back to the bottles, I thought it would be neat to encase a scene in a bottle so I started collecting clear bottles of all sizes and learned how to cut and splice them, put a scene in and glue them back together. I needed items to build around and started picking stuff up at places like the Salvation Army, Rescue Mission and Thrifty Shopper. I also got materials from The Dollar Store and Real Deal where everything is a $1. So now I have a room in the house that is filled with hundreds of items that could be used in some scene, either for the basis or for the main interest.
I have made over 50 different creations using these items and bottles and no two are the same. They aren't perfect but they are unique and one of a kind. As I said earlier, I like pushing the envelop so I started putting in lights, solar dancing figures, and parts from musical cards to vary the projects. I have been experimenting with products from Paper Lantern and have gathered a lot of attention for products using their string and ribbon lights. I can't say where the ideas come from but I think part of it is to just do it and see what happens. Try something. For me I like the praise but the bottom line is that I have filled up a time slot in my life, enjoyed the process of creation and been rewarded with the finished product. Most of the stuff I have done has been gifted to friends or donated to causes that generate money by either putting the item in a Chinese or Silent Auction. So another reward is that I am using items from businesses that sell donated items to help others and then donating my projects to businesses that are not-for-profit and volunteer-based to keep them viable.
Some of you might say you don't have the money for the equipment. Most of the courses you take include supplies and equipment use so you can see the possibilities before the investment. My feeling is that it is an investment over the long haul. You can't put a price on the benefits that working with your hands creating something gives you emotionally and health wise. Life is short. Live now while you can.
"You will never save enough to pay for the experiences you missed while saving."