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m o r n i n g
L i g h t w o r k s

    even after...

    This is a playful little sketch illustrating what I thought was a poem by the mystical Persian poet known as Hafez, or Hāfiz, from the 1300s:

    All this time
    The Sun never says to the Earth,

    "You owe me."

    What happens
    With a love like that,
    It lights the whole sky.

    As can sometimes happen when doing a quick check online, something surprising emerges...namely that this poem is now known to not be by Hāfiz, but by contemporary poet Daniel Ladinsky ~ from a Hāfiz-inspired dream.

    Given that, it's a little ironic that I unintentionally mis-quoted it with "The Sun never says to the Moon..."

    For me, it remains a poem that speaks of the transcendent and transformative power of unconditional love.

    You can buy it as a framed or unframed print here :)

    golden stupa

    Growing up in the 1970’s, I spent a lot of time in Eskdalemuir in Dumfries & Galloway, and was particularly drawn to the clarity of the pebbled waters of the White Esk which runs through the valley ~ so different from the muddy ponds and rivers I’d paddled in down South.

    One day I found a treasure in the water opposite Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre: a little stupa. I took it back there and was told I could keep it; that when they made statues and sacred objects there, the unwanted ones were thrown in the river.
    I’ve had it ever since, and wanted to make a piece of art around it. So last year I cast another little antique stupa in glass and on New Year’s day set both into a jewelled box shrine.

    Close up of the river stupa sitting in the box frame.

    Backlit at night...

    ...and sunlit in the day.

    A bird's eye view...

    The stupa which was used to make the mold which the glass panel was cast from.

    Golden stupa is 17.5cm high, 16.5cm wide & 7.5cm deep.

    You can buy it here :)

    A bit about stupas:

    Burial mounds in pre-Buddhist India, stupas now represent the seated Buddha at his moment of enlightenment ~ every aspect of them rich in psychological and cosmic meaning.

    The Sanskrit root of the word ‘stupa’ is thought to be ‘stu’, meaning to worship or praise. They are treasuries of votive offerings ~ sacred texts, jewels, and precious objects charged with ceremonial prayer and positive wishes, and can also be reliquaries housing the remains and possessions of the Buddha or revered disciples.

    A consecrated stupa is seen as an enlightened, animate presence; Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said about them:

    “Within the stupa, the blessings of the teacher remain unchanging. The Buddha said whoever sees a stupa will be liberated by the sight of it, feels the breeze near it will be liberated by its touch, and hears the tinkling of the small bells around it, will be liberated by the sound. Having seen a stupa, by reflecting on one’s experience of it, one is liberated by recollection. May these stupas become a supreme object of offering, liberating whoever sees them, touches them, hears of them, or remembers them.”

    Though the little river-found stupa wasn’t consecrated, the one used to create the cast glass panel was.

    May this tiny stupa shrine embody this essence of peace and liberation.

    yarrow spirit

    This morning's Lightwork is a plant inclusion of yarrow in fused glass.

    'Yarrow spirit' inverted.
    This is a particularly alchemical process, whereby freshly collected plants can be put between two sheets of glass.
    If all goes well in the firing process, the plant materia burns away cleanly, leaving an ethereal white ash in its original shape.

    'Yarrow spirit' set into a hardwood base. Fused glass is 15cm x 5.5 cm; in the base it stands 20cm high.

    If the plant spirit doesn't feel like having a ghostly spirit of itself forever held for the delight of others, though, there are two main things which can go wrong. Either the hot air can gets in too quickly, burning away the inclusion altogether ~ or just leaving the faintest of impressions ~ or it doesn't burn cleanly away, leaving an air bubble in which the trapped plant has carbonised, like this piece with orchid inclusions, on the 'waiting to be re-fired' pile:

    Finished pieces can then become transparencies for fine art, photo-graphic (=light drawing) pieces; as with my other work, all images are available as prints too.

    You can buy yarrow spirit here :)

    golden rosy cross

    This Sunday morning's matins Lightwork is a large rosy cross (12 x 16cm) made from Murano glass and millefiori from Venice and covered with 24 carat gold leaf.

    Here's a close-up of a some gold from the base of the cross: this is a material I love working with, both for its alchemical power and its beauty.

    The rosy cross is set into a Yew burl: it fits snugly but is easy to remove if you want to.

    Yew trees have a rich tapestry of myth and lineage around do rosy crosses.

    I was going to summarise that here, but need to take a little more time over it. When I do, I'll link it in here :)

    Here's the rosy cross in negative, to give a sense of its soulful presence...

    You can buy golden rosy cross here :)

    holy mountain

    Holy Mountain

    For this morning's Lightwork, here's a porcelain mountain I made last Summer.

    The name porcelain dates from the 1530s, from Middle French porcelaine ~ which in turn comes from Italian porcellana (13c.): literally cowrie shell.

    The lustre and translucency of porcelain is beautifully shell-like; though I love the lucid translucency of glass, the diffuse, golden glow of illuminated porcelain has a subtler, more earthy grace.

    The raw material is completely opaque when it's being worked with ~ it's only firing that reveals how much light it transmits. When shaping the clay for Holy Mountain, working blind in this way, I reached a point where I thought it was going to have the translucency of a floorboard, gave up and left it overnight.

    When I came back the next morning, a long and lovely crack had appeared along the side...and I got excited again.

    On its side is a Kalachakra seed syllable, embodiment of beneficent energy. It’s also known as the ‘Tenfold Powerful One’, as it contains imagery of sun, moon and flame as well as seven individual syllables. All these elements have many layers of meaning and correspondence but, at its simplest, the auspicious symbol is renowned for dispelling negativity while radiating protection and attracting blessings of health, harmony, joy and abundance.

    The mountain is overlooked by Padmasambhava. Also known as ‘Guru Rinpoche’, this Tantric adept from India played a central rôle in bringing Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century. His image is a potent symbol of awakened mind.

    Holy Mountain is 20cm high and 20cm wide.

    You can buy holy mountain here.

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    © shenpen chökyi 2013