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a Lightworks blog

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Stories, both mythical and everyday, form a
pathway leading to the creation of artwork.
Here are some postcards from the journey…

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    William Blake's Flowers Descending on the World

    Here's an illuminated etching based on a dream I had many years ago, in which I saw a drawing of Blake's with this title.

    The sky was filled with flowers, all with their faces turned towards the earth as they drifted down, a potent blessing on the world.

    To create the central tree, I took my inked glass and an easel into the meadow on the other side of Rennaldburn and drew the hawthorn there, which has been a wishing tree for a long time.

    Here's a little minute-long 'making of' time-lapse:

    The etching has been framed with hand-carved wood, gilded with 24-carat gold.

    It has a lightbox behind it, is 33cm x 63cm, & is £380 including p&p. You can buy it here :)

    golden rosy cross

    This Sunday morning's Lightwork is a large rosy cross (12 x 16cm) made from Murano glass and millefiori from Venice and covered with 24 carat gold leaf.

    Here's a close-up of a some gold from the base of the cross: this is a material I love working with, both for its alchemical power and its beauty.

    The rosy cross is set into a Yew burl: though it fits snugly it's easy to remove.

    Yew trees have a rich tapestry of myth and lineage around do rosy crosses.

    Something I'll need a bit more time to explore and write about!

    Here's the rosy cross in negative, to give a sense of its soulful presence :)

    holy mountain

    Holy Mountain

    For today's Lightwork, here's a porcelain mountain I made last Summer.

    The name porcelain dates from the 1530s, from Middle French porcelaine ~ which in turn comes from Italian porcellana (13c.): literally cowrie shell.

    The lustre and translucency of porcelain is beautifully shell-like; though I love the lucid translucency of glass, the diffuse, golden glow of illuminated porcelain has a subtler, more earthy grace.

    The raw material is completely opaque when it's being worked with ~ it's only firing that reveals how much light it transmits. When shaping the clay for Holy Mountain, working blind in this way, I reached a point where I thought it was going to have the translucency of a floorboard, gave up and left it overnight.

    When I came back the next morning, a long and lovely crack had appeared along the side...and I got excited again.

    On its side is a Kalachakra seed syllable, embodiment of beneficent energy. It’s also known as the ‘Tenfold Powerful One’, as it contains imagery of sun, moon and flame as well as seven individual syllables. All these elements have many layers of meaning and correspondence but, at its simplest, the auspicious symbol is renowned for dispelling negativity while radiating protection and attracting blessings of health, harmony, joy and abundance.

    The mountain is overlooked by Padmasambhava. Also known as ‘Guru Rinpoche’, this Tantric adept from India played a central rôle in bringing Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century. His image is a potent symbol of awakened mind.

    Holy Mountain has now been offered up to the waterfall at Rennaldburn :)

    Dreaming Lilies

    A fused glass inclusion of Pilea Peperomioides, a plant first found in 1906 in the Tsangshan range in Western Yunnan.

    After this, Pilea had a curious and action-packed story of its move to the Western world, becoming popular as a houseplant by friends gifting it to one another in an underground way, leading it to be referred to as the pass-it-on plant...all the while being virtually unknown to scientists, who had not yet seen a living flowering female Pilea. (Full Pilea story here!)

    This was how Dreaming Lilies looked as it went into the kiln...

    ...and here it is in its wooden base.

    I love how they look like little sky-borne waterlilies :)

    even after...

    Here's a playful little sketch illustrating what I thought was a poem by the mystical Persian poet known as Hafez, or Hāfiz, from the 1300s:

    All this time
    The Sun never says to the Earth,

    "You owe me."

    What happens
    With a love like that,
    It lights the whole sky.

    As can sometimes happen when doing a quick check online, something surprising emerges...namely that this poem is now known to not be by Hāfiz, but by contemporary poet Daniel Ladinsky ~ from a Hāfiz-inspired dream.

    Given that, it's a little ironic that I unintentionally mis-quoted it with "The Sun never says to the Moon..."

    For me, it remains a poem that speaks of the transcendent and transformative power of unconditional love.

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    © shenpen chökyi 2013