Sweater weather is here, folks, and everything is changing; the air is a bit crisper, the mornings colder, the need for slippers is immediate, and the autumn colors are warm, cozy and beautiful. I was more than ready to see summer come to a close, and if it would have hastened its departure, I would have given it a swift kick in the right direction. I love this time of year! On the autumn equinox, September 23rd, I hosted a small gathering of friends to celebrate the beginning of a new season, both literally and figuratively. I worked for weeks on my decorations and remarks for the gathering. Lucky for me, the very day I went to the local garden store, boxes upon boxes were being opened with gourds and decorations aplenty. So in addition to the yellow and orange flowers, floral wreaths, pinecones, colorful ears of corn and spicy candles, I collected stripey and speckled pumpkins that now set atop the mantel of my fireplace and nest in the corners of my living room.
Craft must be a living and evolving thing. It shouldn’t be stuck in the past; a museum of what it used to be. It should be rooted in our lives, relevant especially to young people, since they are the ones who will carry it forward. Find a way to make it relevant to modern day life while still observing and being influenced by the history of it.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with Eelco Stoffers and Roxana Popescu-Stoffers in their glass shop and studio, Gekleurd Glas. Both Eelco and Roxana are friendly, warm, and very easy to talk with. Eelco was eager to share his story and talk about his work. I’ve been by the shop a few times now, and I always leave feeling like we haven’t yet finished our conversation. It’s nice to have so much to talk about. Eelco comes from a family of artists; his mother a visual artist, training first in painting and transitioning over time to textile work and tapestries, and his father, whose early work included machine fabrication and later shifted to stained glass. When his mother studied at Groningen’s Academia Minerva, her education in painting was quite comprehensive – it even included fire painting! Eelco’s father is something of a Renaissance man. He was a machine fabricator, and produced, among other things, spinning wheels for wool and etching presses for lithographs. He worked with the Academia Minerva and provided machines to students studying here in Groningen. He observed a need for students to have access to smaller, more portable machines, as many students needed to be able to produce work from home to support themselves. So, he made some.
I’ll never forget the first time I was genuinely impressed by a stained glass window. I travelled alone to France in 2003 on a sort of soul-searching mission, and while in Paris, I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to see the Notre-Dame cathedral. I went in on a quiet Sunday morning, and although there were a lot of people in line outside and walking around inside, visitors seemed quiet and respectful of the worshipping parishioners. All I really heard was a tap-tapping of shoes on the floor and the soothing sound of voices singing.