I find something whimsical and intriguing about looking through o-o-old windows. Antique panes of glass. Wavy window glass that subtly distorts and dream-ifies the view.
Another more Apollonian observer might consider this riffled reality discomfiting, unsettling. But wonder wells within me when grandfatherly glass slumps and swirls. It’s like a watercolor. An impressionist painting. A mirage. It invites the viewer’s curiosity and creativity to complete the image. To co-create the illusion.
Wavy window glass,
swirling, curling, rippling glass,
my undulant muse.
— Geo Davis
I shared this sentiment more succinctly here:
The image appeared more playful in small format on my phone. More watery. Less geometric, the grid of the screen secondary to the semicircular whirl of once molten glass. But, akin to the impetus for this post, the discrepancy between smartphone and desktop images can be surprising and unpredictable. So rather than retracting the coupling of my “Wavy Window Glass Haiku” with a pic poorly illustrative of the idea I’d wished to convey, I’ll tease it bit further here. I’ll try to dilate the notion enough to demonstrate the relevance to Rosslyn Redux.
Wavy Window Glass Muse
From my earliest encounters with this property, Rosslyn emerged as something more than the name of a few old buildings on an historic waterfront. Rosslyn loomed larger than bricks and mortar and slate and sagging floors. Rosslyn was a real and overarching character — an anthropomorphic entity akin to a living, breathing human being — that both Susan and I both recognized and admired.
We’ve often joked that Rosslyn seduced us.
But you know what? She did. Rosslyn seduced us.
From the get-go we both yielded to this benevolent force. We were smitten, willingly and unreservedly. And our bearings blurred. The reason(s) we purchased the property, uprooted ourselves from Manhattan, transplanted our small family of three (Susan, Tasha, and your faithful scribe) to Essex began to evolve. Our objectives wavered — no, more like shimmered the way a mirage does, at once enticing and confusing — and our vision meandered from the clarity we’d identified at the outset. Rosslyn swept us into a kaleidoscopic adventure as burgeoning and unpredictable as it was engrossing.
A decade and a half after we purchased Rosslyn, we’re still in her thrall despite an original timely of 2-4 years. That’s right, at the outset we saw this chapter of our lives as a tidy interval. A recuperative ellipse. Ha!
In virtually all respects our love affair with Rosslyn has enriched our marriage and lives among family and friends. She has provided generously and faithfully for us. And we consider her a being, a member of our small family (Susan, Carley, Rosslyn, and yours truly).
Where exactly am I going with this?
While I won’t put words in Susan’s mouth (nor Carley’s, for that matter) I’m 100% certain that Rosslyn became my muse. Yes, I’m proposing manse as muse. And a beguiling and mysterious muse, I might add.
Rosslyn’s wavy window glass serves as suitable symbol for muse who wove her way into our lives.
I’ve likened peering through old glass to looking at a watercolor. The image adorning the top of this post (and an idea I’ll revisit fleetingly in tomorrow’s blog post, “Backcountry Barns”) play with watercoloring’s romantic expressionism. In my opinion, watercolor is compelling in large part due to its evocative, emotional appeal. Less duty-bound to verisimilitude, I find that a well executed watercolor is an invitation to wonder, an invitation to collaborate with the artist, and to enter into a protean partnership with creator and creation. Watercolor is less object than lens, less product than process.
Much like her wavy window glass, Rosslyn as muse has welcomed whimsy into our journey and relationship with her. As such she’s been an immensely inspiring and encouraging mentor. She’s encouraged us to see home and family and community differently. She’s helped us reimagine our relationships with all three.
I’ve distilled too little and wandered too much in this post, so I’ll curtail my mental roving. In closing I’d like to share a couple of useful snippets.
If you’re unfamiliar with wavy glass, the simplest explanation for it’s unusual character is that it was hand-blown.
For years, the only glass available was hand-blown glass… A local glass worker would blow the glass on a rod and spin it into discs which when cooled could be cut into small pieces. (Source: The Craftsman Blog)
Pre-industrial, hand made glass retained interesting artifacts unique to its fabrication process. Here’s a more detailed explanation.
Wavy glass is the “cool-looking” glass commonly found in older window panes, doors, and furniture built prior to the early 1900s.
Generally, the further back in history you go, the wavier the glass is. As craftsmen improved their methods over time, the wave and distortion became less apparent.
Early manufacture of glass involved single sheets of glass manufactured by a craftsman by blowing through a tube, resulting in tiny bubbles called seeds.
As a result, glass produced in the 1700s tends to have more distortion than glass produced in the 1800s. In the early 1900s, increasing industrial advances led to machine-produced glass. This glass, while less wavy, still had imperfections and was widely used in the United States cities in the early 1900s. (Source: Pioneer Glass)
You’ll never look at an old pane of wavy window glass the same way again!
What do you think?