Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Playing with Metal and Glass

We made a beeline from our motel back to Bill's, full of enthusiasm to learn all we can from Bill.
We started work right away. Somewhere in his distant past Bill has an Italian heritage. They have excellent craftsmen, glassworkers and problem solvers.

Not only is Bill a consummate craftsman, but also a great teacher who is interested in people and does not hestitate to share his skills - even if they were hard won by trial and error. He has a wealth of skills and energy.

Wanda had the privilege of spending the whole day working with glass. She enjoyed learning the language, processes and techniques. Bill has a philosophy that techniques are only limited by your imagination where as, many glass workers seem to limit themselves to only a few.

It was necessary to make thin almost hair-like glass rods to start with. With control, practise, and technique you could then use it to pattern your glass. Glass beads were the first experiment.

Glass implosion gives some fabulous floral effects.
Left;- the flower pattern in a glass ball is so realistic. A few other of Bill's experiments.

 Chris was keen to learn more about forging aluminium, and spent his time swing on a hammer at the anvil before switching to the power hammer.

 We had an exceptionally interesting day. Lots of fun.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Heading inland

We made an earlier getaway today than we have in some time. Our first stop was to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche which is located at the Mission of Nombre de Dios. We rode out of the motel and across the road into the carpark, not realising just how close it was - we could have just as easily walked.

Wanda was impressed with the peaceful beauty of the place, located with a view to the sea. A historical Spanish sight dating back to 1565.

Our next stop was St George Street, part of the old town but given over to bars, restaurants, boutiques and galleries.

It was very quiet, but it was relatively early on a Monday morning after all, and the weekend crowds were gone.

A quiet sanctuary in St George Street is the Greek Orthodox Chapel of St Photios.

Amongst the old relics there we saw a number of icons with covers made of raised and chased silver and bronze that echoed the design of the icon, but with cut-outs that revealed the faces of the subjects.
Some interesting shopping.

From St Augustine we rode south east to East Palatka where we refuelled the bike and continued south on US 17 following a scenic route. At Satsuma, a really plum town, we detoured down county road 309 to Welatka where we stopped for lunch in a little diner.

What struck us was the flatness of the landscape and the heat - it was 95 F at 9:00am and stayed around that level all day.

We continued our scenic route through George town and Crescent City before continuing south on 17 to Barberville. At the junction with FL 40, there was a large market selling all kinds of garden ornaments, pots, honey and a large amount and variety of metal cast animals, letter boxes, garden setttings, etc, etc.

It was so hot we forgot about our scenic tour and headed straight for Ocala on FL 40. Our GPS was supposed to take us to the house of our friend Bill, but somehow the address in the GPS got screwed up and we ended up riding 20 miles out of our way.

Thank goodness Bill had a beer in the fridge when we arrived! We took a tour of his workshop and home and chatted about all sorts of metal and glass art before taking advantage of his laundry.

Bill is highly tallented with metal and glass work.

While the clothes dried we went off and booked into a nearby motel.

We returned to Bill's for our clothes and went off to dinner together at a nearby Italian restaurant.

Tomorrow the fun begins! We have scheduled two days to hang around with Bill and learn about glass making, aluminium forging and casting.

More rain!

It rained much of the night and when we woke it was very wet outside. As we prepared to leave our motel it started drizzling. We decided it would be better to get soaked than put our wet weather gear on. From Hinesville, Georgia we rode east on US 84 until we reached US 17 south. The drizzle went away and we enjoyed a pleasantly cool run.

Yesterday we left the mountains and travelled through undulating hills. Today the landscape was a carpenter's dream - as flat as a board. We stopped briefly at a petrol station to refill our bike.

We ran into more light rain as we reached Darien, where we stopped at a bank to refill our wallets.

An airplant seems to take over some trees. It drops like shredded cloth and f lows gently in the wind. 
Apart from a wading white egret, carrion birds were seen eating dear, armadillos or possums, casualties of road kill.
The rain picked up in intensity as we continued. We were soon fairly wet, especially in the legs.
The wetlands looking over the bridge were difficult to photograph in the rain.

We tried to dodge or out run dark clouds all day.

We desperately stopped for lunch at Larry's Giant Subs - as much to get out of the rain as to actually eat. Shock! Horror! They didn't sell coffee! The rain eased while we were busy eating, so we opted not to wear our wet weather gear. Although wet, we were never cold. Inside, a metal sculpture depicting bridge workers.

We drove around walled or fenced estates, believed to house retirees. The accompanying churches are huge and look well to do. We can only assume......

Todays route was supposed to be easy but we realised we were driving around in circles after seeing this landmark twice, so we set our GPS.

Eventually US 17 merged with I-95 just south of the Florida State Line.The rain dried up and we started drying out. At a brief stop in a Gate service station for coffee we picked up a magazine and were amazed.

We ran through Jacksonville on US 1 and south towards beautiful St Augustine.

St Augustine is the US's oldest city. The Spanish established it in 1565, some years after Ponce de Leon claimed Florida for Spain in 1513. Between 1672 and 1695 the Spanish built the Castillo de San Marco, a stone fort that replaced 9 earlier wooden fortifications.

In 1702 the English besieged the fort unsuccessfully for 50 days, burning the town of St Augustine before leaving. The fort survived another siege by the British in 1740. It changed hands several times between the English, Spanish and Americans between 1763 and 1821.

The old town of St Augustine is now a tourist mecca. We rode apround it before booking into a motel just outside the old city and shopping for groceries for our evening meal.