Thursday, July 30, 2009

the bone

Vision Quest

click on the image for a larger version

Several years ago I did a piece in my Dreamer series.  This one was about altered states of consciousness and our attempts to ‘pierce the veil’ and receive guidance.  One of the parts of this piece was to be a bone.  

Casting a small bone is not easy especially using the soda lime glass that we do.  It would have been a bit easier if we used lead crystal because lead crystal melts at a lower temperature and is heavier and so flows better, especially into small areas.  But the beautiful lead crystal glass that Gaffer makes that I would like to use does not come fritted to a consistent mesh size unless, of course, you want 40 lbs of a single color and then they will frit it however you like.

I had decided on a chicken for the source of my bone, and since I knew it would be problematic, I wanted the biggest one I could find.  My first plan was to go to a fast food chicken place for lunch but the resulting leg bone was too small.  Off to the grocery store I went and I sorted through every chicken they had looking for the largest.  

Obviously, baked chicken was on the menu that night and after eating, I took the leg bone and cleaned and scrubbed it to perfection and placed it on the butcher block table to dry overnight.  Happy with myself, later in the evening I retired with plans to make the reproduction mold of the bone on the morrow.

Sometime during the night I was awakened by a loud thump.  This is an old house (as in 100+ years) and it is not uncommon for a loud pop to occur (like the time a big chunk of sheet-rock fell off the ceiling in the kitchen in the middle of the night).  I lay there waiting to drift off to sleep again and just when I was on the verge, there was another bonk, closer this time.

I confess that I am real good at starting projects and not finishing them.  One such project is stripping the painted baseboards and moulding in the house.  I have three rooms, no less, with the wood partially done.  You’d think I would finish one room before starting on another but that would make too much sense.  In the room adjacent to the bedroom, which was currently serving as the office, I had removed the baseboards for just such stripping and it was from this direction that the noise was coming.

If you’ve ever removed the baseboards in an old house you know that the walls, and by walls I mean ship-lap, don’t go all the way down.  There is a space 3” - 5” that accesses the hollow space between the walls...up into the attic...for small creatures.  

I once had a juvenile squirrel come in the house, and you guessed it, it got in the walls in that room.  Fortunately, I left the back door open and glimpsed it’s exit.  Of course it got in because we leave the back door open all the time, weather permitting, and the screen has a big hole in it at the bottom.  For some reason juvenile creatures like to come in my house.  I’ve also had to the house and release a young possum.  And a pair of wrens once.

After this second bonking noise, there came a series of clunks and bonks, the source of origin steadily getting higher.  Eventually it dragged whatever across the ceiling to it’s nest. Right. Above. My bed.

I knew we had a resident.  I had already lost a loaf of bread, a bag of chips. and an avocado.  An avocado fer cryin’ out loud!  The whole thing disappeared without a trace!  I kid you not.  I actually had been setting out a live trap but the little bastard kept springing it and never getting caught. 

Eventually the noise quieted down and I fell back asleep.  When I got up the next morning, my bone was gone.  Oh man, I was so pissed.  That little bastard stole my bone.  That was the last straw and I went out that day and bought a conventional trap.  I hated to do it but, you know, a line had been crossed.

I did eventually catch the culprit and I hope he didn’t suffer, that it was quick.  It was of course a small rat.  When I finally acquired another bone I put it in the refrigerator to dry out overnight.  I wasn’t taking any chances.

*Thanks to Mr. London Street and his recent post on KFC for sparking this memory.


  1. I'm sorry, but that was a funny story! When I moved into a town house, years ago, I noticed that my son's high chair was being chewed up. I put a sticky trap on the seat of the chair, and it was a HUGE mouse. Needless to say, the exterminator and a new seat were in order!!

  2. We had a HUGE rat a few years ago, that chewed a hole through the wall board directly into the kitchen pantry. My youngest son saw him one night and said he was the size of a small cat. I believe it. To make a long story short, he's gone. The rat, that is.

    Your glass work is amazing. Have you seen the movie "Oscar and Lucinda"? Cate Blanchett is an Australian glass works owner in the 1800's. You might like it.

  3. hi ellen, what a great story and i laughed as well (sorry) but we've enjoyed the gnawing of mice off an on over the years and i could well imagine the sound and associations of an animal much larger.
    your glassworks and assemblages are incredible ellen, i feel certain you've heard that many times and i'll likely say it many times after this. have a lovely day. steven

  4. Great story! I've never heard of a rat stealing an avocado! Hilarious! I would have to exterminate or I would never get any sleep. Beautiful artwork, too!

  5. I'm glad everyone got a laugh out of the story. I laughed too, later. And thanks of the compliments on the work.

  6. I can imagine how that can happen. How do you keep from panicking with animals in the house?

  7. i don't know what "fritting" is but I do know how compelling it is to start projects and what a drudge it is to finish them.

    Oh my god, a rat stole your bone. I imagine the chips, avocado and bread made for a nice picnic. Odd that he would also go for a plain bone, but what do I know of rat appetites.

    Fabulous post and what a beautiful piece. Did it help you alter your consciousness?

  8. This was great fun and the art is amazing. You write wonderful stories ellen, thanks.

  9. After all that thievery, it sounds like you had a bone to pick with that rat. ;)

    Your art is lovely.

  10. At least the rat had refined tastes. Sounds like he was fixing guacamole. Lovely piece.

  11. If a rat was rummaging around in my place I would slowly go insane.

  12. Ew! Really makes you wonder what happens in your kitchen when you're asleep.


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