Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Among the Branches - For the Love of Tree Houses

Partial Excerpt from Among the Branches - www.Architectural Digest.com

Among the Branches - An East Hampton Tree House Captures the Fanciful Air of The Lord of the Rings

Tree House Design by David and Jeanie Stiles / Text by Kelly Sanchez / Photography by Billy Cunningham


For most kids, there is nothing quite like climbing a tree-the thrill of finding that perfect perch from which to survey the world or disappear into the secret reaches of a leafy canopy. David Stiles understands those children. In fact, he and his wife, Jeanie, have spent a pleasurable portion of their careers creating tree houses for them. "To do a tree house you have to think like a child," David Stiles says. "For me that's easy!"

The couple, who divide their time between Manhattan and East Hampton, also design houses and cabins, and they've written 21 how-to books (five on tree houses). Though David Stiles studied industrial design at New York's Pratt Institute and sculpture at Florence's Academy of Fine Arts, he says that as a boy he was always building-"in-ground huts, clubhouses, bent-pole huts."

When New York financier Alan Patricof and his wife, Susan, asked the Stilese's to design a tree house for their granddaughters, Lily and Nina, they leapt at the chance.

"A tree house should never overpower the tree in which it is built. It should sit lightly in the branches,"says Jeanie Stiles, who, with her partner and husband, David, designed an arboreal escape for the grandchildren of clients in East Hampton.

More Information Available - Visit www.ArchitecturalDigest.com

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ruby Tuesday! - Posted by littlebangtheory

Ruby Tuesday! November 9, 2009
Posted at littlebangtheory.
Link to the Ruby Tuesday! entry directly by Clicking Here.

This is an Accidental Ruby Tuesday, which came my way most unexpectedly this past weekend.

I’d overslept and missed the best part of sunrise, but I nonetheless left the house early enough to see some long shadows and a bit of color.

But the skies were boring compared to the sunrise I’d invisioned, and I drove without a destination, disconsolate yet propelled by my inate wanderlust.

Then, on the edges of Ashfield (it might have been Goshen by then) I passed a rustic building gleaming with chrome detritus of a most unanticipated sort – the Good Time Stove Company:

…yes, a real store, festooned with an interesting array of shiny stuff displayed to the delight of early morning travelers like me. I’d passed it hundreds of times without stopping, but on this particular morning the light was right, and I backed up to snap this shot.

There are several bits of Ruby scattered about this photograph, though I doubt you can see the most impressive one to me: the glowing red heart affixed to the chest of the twenty foot Tin Cowboy at the left of the photo.

Trust me, it’s a trip.

So at this resolution you might just be able to see the Glowing Red Whatever at the foot of the fifteen-foot Bicycle Wheel Arch which frames the entrance to the stove shop. I call Ruby-Dab!

…but then, off to the right, was a sign: “Three Sisters Sanctuary:”

Yeah, I know, “That’s pretty scant Ruby.” Let’s call it “sorta red.”

But I, being curious, wandered out back, the idea of “three sisters” appealing to me in some way or another.

And there I spied Ruby:

Morning Dragon

‘Twas a Morning Dragon, fifty feet at least, basking in the break of day, with two-foot chunks of sea glass guarding its sinuous spine, and a belly where fire lived, and a hideously beautiful mouth where the smoke came out, gnashing its earthbound fangs at the waning half-moon:

This was a truly cool find, and the low light of morning lit it to my liking.

I hope you like it too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ben Franklin, His Stove and Patent Issues

Last month, Good Time Stove Company was contacted by a student writing a paper about Ben Franklin. Below are the questins posed for that interview and the Stove Princess' responses.

1.When David Rittenhouse improved the Franklin Fireplace, would there have been any jealousy involved from Ben Franklin?

I am not familiar with D. Rittenhouse or his improvements but from my understanding of Ben Franklin, the Franklin stove that he invented was intentionally NOT patented so that it was open to and encouraged the development of antique stove innovations leading me to believe that Franklin would have embraced Rittenhouse's contributions.

2. Should have Benjamin Franklin put a patent on the Franklin Stove?

To each his own. Personally I think that this type of openness encourages innovation and creativity that results in advances and progress that patents and other forms of intellectual property right discourage and hinder. Again, this is only my personal opinion, but it seems to me that in many ways the antique stove industry itself flourished under this model.

3. Was the invention a successful or a bad idea? Hugely successful, generated a huge industry and was absolutely integral to the every day function of domestic life for more than 100 years. The Franklin fireplace beget all other stoves in the American stove industry.

4. What would have happened if there was never a Franklin Stove? I personally believe that someone would have stumbled on this creation in due time, probably sooner than later. Fire technology and heating/cooking appliances had been in existence for some time. In the face of increasingly limited resources (trees and coal), the innovation seems inevitable. Given that there were well over 2,000 manufacturers, each claiming his own designs and innovations it seems evident that once the ball was set in motion its momentum would be nearly unstoppable and so the stove and range industry continues to be a huge market today.

5. Would the pamphlet that Franklin created for the fireplaces help a consumer decide which fireplace to buy?
Yes, although often times the pamphlets themselves focused on how the stove function and operates as opposed to how to select the right stove for the consumer or his home. The relied on the prowess of a sales person for this. To this ends many pamphlets were catered to the sales person touting the merits of the manufacturer, foundry, production, etc with less focus on the product itself.

6. Will there be some other fireplace invention like it, but more advanced? Of course!!!

7. Would life have been different without the Franklin Stove in the 1700s? Can you imagine your like without a means of cooking, baking, making food, heating water, staying warm, etc. Life was in no way absent these amenities before 1700, but Ben Franklin's invention represented tremendous progress towards convenience, efficiency and specialization.

8. Why do people still use them today? Cant people invent better than this or is this all it can get? Nostalgia, ambiance, aesthetic, antique authenticity (as opposed to a reproduction), superior cast iron quality (as opposed to the substandard cast iron used in modern stove production), antique artistry in the castings and designs (as opposed to bland cookie-cutter designs of modern models), using an antique stove is more environmentally friendly reducing landfill waste instead restoring a fine antique appliance to its peak performance and efficiency. Antique stove has a demonstrated capacity to function for generations where modern stoves suffer from built in obsolescence and find themselves irreparably broken down within 10-20 years of regular use.

9. If he were to put a patent on the fireplace, how much would have he made? The industry was one of America's largest at its height. Anyone involved could make money, especially those who made and defended patent claims. PD Beckwidth, inventor of the oak or cylinder stove, spent his entire life in litigation defending his claims to this patent and died in its pursuit. Today Round Oak stoves, among the mot widely recognized name in the antique stove industry bears the phrase "from the estate of P D Beckwidth." Ben Franklin's contributions to America, and the stove industry in particular, cannot be measured in mere dollars alone.

10. Could have this invention influenced others to create their own invention? Yes and it did. It was huge industry. So large in fact that at one time that patent office itself had to close due to the shear volume of patents generated by the stove industry at the height of its production.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stone by Stone - Garden Sanctuary Rises in Goshen

Stone by Stone
Garden Sanctuary rises in Goshen

Gazette Contributing Writer
Three Sisters Sanctuary - Goshen, ma

The Three Sisters Sanctuary is a garden of sculptural objects created by Richard Richardson.

GOSHEN - Two large stones stand on opposite sides of the grassy landscape. Their white quartz shapes stand in sharp contrast to the countless other darker boulders organized in circular "formations weaving around the yard".

Those two stones are battling sisters fighting it out for attention, says Richard M. Richardson, of Goshen.

Richardson, who has spent the past 15 years carefully developing his ornate backyard garden, said that all stones have a personality of their own. And the dueling sisters are not the only characters in the garden.

A group of tall rocks, which Richardson, 60, calls the Elders, are gathered off to the edge of a drum circle in the backyard.

"They just kind of feel like they have the wisdom of the garden," Richardson said of the group.

A sculpture of a girl made of shells, and other found objects, sits in the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen.

A widely varied collection of large stones are purposefully scattered along the other side of the drum circle. Richardson said that when he stands in the center of the circle and looks out at these stones, he feels like he is at a dance, scanning the potential dance partners. Thus, he calls this formation "Dancing with the Ladies."

Richardson said he is not much of a gardener - and downplays his experience, saying he's just picked things up along the way.

By trade, he restores and sells antique stoves as the owner of Good Time Stove Company in Goshen. But after decorating the interior of his house, he said he decided to move his attention outside.

In the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen brother and sister, Jaime LaBonte and Megan LaBonte stand beneath what Megan says is her favorite part of the garden, the dragon. The garden was created by Richard Richardson, who in an artist in Goshen.

"I started one day when I built one outdoor room and that was fun and there's no restriction," he said. "Outside, you have a room and any other space that abuts it."

Then, one day he was digging a well in his backyard and he found a seemingly unlimited supply of the large rocks buried on the property. As he continued be said the stone just jumped out of the ground.

"They didn’t want to be down there," he said. "They were waiting for me."

Richardson decided to put the stones to good use and began adding new sections to his backyard garden, which he calls the Three Sisters Sanctuary.

"You can really work with what you have and nature can work with you," Richardson said.

Richard Richardson, center, and two of his children, Sara "Stove Princess" LaBonte and Jaime LaBonte, pose with a cylinder stove in the showroom of the Good Time Stove Company on Cape Street in Goshen. At left is a line of parlor stoves (on the floor) and smaller 4 o’clock stoves (above and behind them, along window). The Three Sisters Sanctuary is located behind the store.

The garden now consists of several different elements, like the drum circle, an amphitheater and a sanctuary dedicated to Richardson's late daughter - Tina Marie. The separate "rooms" are connected by winding stone and brick pathways and a series of metal and wood arches.

Here, the natural aid the man-made seamlessly intertwine.

This 16-foot wooden figure representing a woman was built to be burned as a party of Megan E. LaBonte’s "Burning Woman" party, held earlier this month at the Three Sisters Sanctuary.

Rusted bicycles rise from the ground among the grasses and trees. Metal sculptures from various artists are scattered throughout the yard. Colored glass shines from among the rocks of the water garden and from the crevices in some of the stone formations.

Throughout the garden there is a wide variation of plant life. In the spring and summer, the garden is alive with color, Richardson said.

But, he said, "When he plants go away, there's still plenty to look at. It was meant to be a four-season garden."

The yard also incorporates fire with several fire pits, one with a chimney made to look the head of a dragon. The dragon is made of a mosaic of stone, glass and other objects. "When the fire beneath is lit, he appears to breathe smoke into the, and above the garden, Richardson said.

The dragon in the Three Sisters Sanctuary serves as the primary chimney to a fire pit below. Smoke travels out of the dragon’s mouth when a fire is lit.

The hodgepodge of items tucked throughout the yard is a bit overwhelming at first. But, Richardson said, the collection is intended to be an assortment, of interesting forms, rather than a mix of cohesive materials.

"I’m a collector of shapes. If I like a shape, I don't really care what it is," he said. "If at some point it talks to me, I'll do something with it."

It has been Richardson's artistic vision that has sculpted the Three Sisters Sanctuary over the years, with the help of local artisans, stone workers and gardeners, he said.

Richardson said that he sees the garden as his legacy, his gift to the Pioneer Valley.

"Without trying to seem like I'm flattering myself, I do believe that it is of some great substance," Richardson said. "I believe that it is more than just a backyard."

All of this creation hides behind the Good Time Stove Company building on Route 112 in Goshen.

The building is decorated with an array of found objects many of them rusted red or painted with bright colors. Richardson said that an average of 10 people per week used to stumble upon the garden, after stopping to check out the eye-catching building or the two-story tall tin man who stands sentry nearby.

But after recently posting a sign welcoming the public to visit the garden, Richardson said he has seen those numbers jump to 50 to 100 people on the average week While the high traffic has been an adjustment, Richardson said he is excited to see the rising interest in his work. "The only way it can really be used is if I share it," he said. And it teaches people how environmental art works; whether they are children or adults matters not."

Next venture: Richardson's next project will be to develop the furthest edge of the garden, where. the dueling sisters sit, into a labyrinth called "the Dance of Life." The labyrinth will take visitors through different. Rooms, representing courtship, seduction, commitment, conception, childhood and adulthood. The final section of the labyrinth - the Exit of Life- will drop visitors back into the main garden. Richardson says he hopes to complete the labyrinth in two to three years.

And after a hard day's work Richardson only needs to walk a few feet from the garden to his home, where he and his family have lived for almost 35 years. "My favorite part is that I live here," he said. "I live inside of my art."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Antique Stove Information Clearinghouse Under New Direction

Quite a few years ago, Clifford Boram of Indiana started The Antique Stove Information Clearinghouse, a repository of historic data on early stoves and their makers. Now in his mid-seventies, Cliff has decided to turn the reins over to someone else, so he can have time to pursue other projects. In May, Cliff sold his business to TASA member Dave Petricka of Faribault, Minnesota. Cliff is pleased with the arrangement and says that Dave is an ideal person to take over the task. Cliff says he will be available to offer support during the transition period.

Dave is an antique stove collector and, like many of us, is especially drawn to anything fancy or unusual. He says he plans to continue on with The Antique
Stove Information Clearinghouse much as it has been in the past. Although he is already fielding stove inquiries, he says the volume of information is quite overwhelming and it's going to take some time for him to get up to speed. Eventually, Dave would like to make some of the stove catalogs available online, but "that's a very long-term goal" he says.

Dave says that The Antique Stove Association and its members have done a lot for him over the years, and preserving and continuing the work that Cliff started
years ago is a way for him to "give something back" to the organization.

Dave can be reached at 507-210-4304 or davepetricka@yahoo.com.