Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A visit with Clay Foster - Part I

After spring quarter was done (i.e., my grades posted and the wrap-up for my class), I took a break to visit Clay Foster in Krum, Texas. Yep - I'd never heard of it, either, but it's not too far from Dallas.

Clay and Penny have a nice prairie for their back yard, which means there is plenty of wildlife. Here's a Northern Mockingbird making itself at home on one of Clay's sculptures. I can't help but think of Rives' poem on mockingbirds (video of TED conference talk) when I look at this picture.

Clay told me that there weren't all that many birds at his place, but the ones there were pretty cool, including Painted Buntings. I didn't see one, but heard a couple during a walk.

I did see lots of Black-chinned hummingbirds, though, which was a new one for my list. The other new birds from this trip included a white-winged dove and a black vulture.

Clay and Penny invited a bunch of friends over for a party - partly to see Clay's recently finished shop and partly to play music.

His shop was worth the trip. The entry doors have stained glass done by Penny, and the cabinets are made as if they are fine furniture with book matched doors.

The shop is bigger than my house and everything is stored in its proper place.

That's one of Clay's sculptures on the workbench.

More stained glass by Penny. The door at the left of the frame leads to the wood storage area of the building.

This window is in Penny's stained glass studio. Clay said their prairie is a sea of sunflowers in the autumn, and that was the inspiration for this design.

One of several beautiful cabinets. Each piece of wood has been collected and milled by Clay.

That's a pretty fancy cabinet for finishes and glues.

This cabinet stores shaper cutters and parts.

Yep - pretty nice.

Here's a closer look. The frame is wood from a barn, I think - maybe it's chestnut. I can't remember now.

Another beautiful cabinet . . .

This one holds turning tools and lathe supplies.

Where are the shavings?

Clay added the window above the shop door so that he could see Penny's sunflower window. Here's another view of that sculpture

A trip to the wood room yields a bit of an African sleeper - some wood Clay secured on a recent trip to South Africa.

I also brought a piece home, and I'm looking forward to playing with it sometime.

I noticed that Clay has some interesting stepping stones leading from the shop to the house.

A close inspection reveals they are limestone and full of fossils. Clay had a lot of ammonites on display around the house and on the veranda.

Clay made a wonderful dinner and everyone brought a dish to share. After we ate, Penny got us started in playing some tunes. Penny plays hammer dulcimer, and I had fun playing this instrument.

I can't remember anyone's name, but they were all really great musicians. The tunes reminded me of my contra dance days back with the Oklahoma City group. I was playing fiddle and caught snatches of most tunes, even if I couldn't play them through in their entirety.

This guy was doing a bit of singing, also, which was great fun.

It's not everyday that one can have a seisun in someone's bedroom, but it was sure a blast!

Actually, it was more like the sleeping area. Clay and Penny have an open floor plan with the sleeping area adjacent to the sitting area, which is next to the dining and kitchen area. It all flows together into a beautiful and very liveable space.

The sense of place is very strong here, and you can observe the hand of the maker throughout the house and property. It was not only beautiful, but also very peaceful.

One view of the sitting area,

and another. I loved the views of the prairie from these windows.

The objects on this table were fascinating, ranging from Clay's art to artifacts from Africa and Alaska.

This is a carved whale vertebrae. It's a Janus figure with an alternate face on the opposite side.

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