As a life-long artist I have fulfilled many commissions, but this is the first thing that I ever commissioned.
I really wanted a fantastic bench to be sited in a primo spot near the heavenly meadow pools at Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort, where we go for a week’s vacation each summer. But for years and years there has been nothing but an ugly, uncomfortable bench there. So I hatched an idea and got my husband Steve on Board with the proposal of commissioning a wonderful bench — the perfect way for us to honor that sacred place we love so much. To be sure that the bench was comfortable and pleasing, we called for certain specifications about the seat and angle of the back, and determined where it was to be sited and how we wanted it landscaped at the base. (The pictures were taken before landscaping.) Then we left the bench’s creation to Oregon wood artist Thom Whipp. I made the three round tiles which he inset in the bench back. Two are the Breitenbush Logo, which visually refers to the healing waters emerging at Breitenbush and moving out into the community to nourish all life. The third tile is Youthful Folly (from the I-Ching). Youthful Folly is the name Steve and I call our partnership, our Seattle home and my tile studio. (The pithy quote from that hexagram is: “The good fortune of the child-like fool comes from his being devoted and gentle.”)
The wood artist, Thom Whipp, said this about constructing the bench: “I was working with an ancient formula of design — golden rectangle/golden mean. This is the basic idea of dividing up the design of the piece of art in a certain way, be it sculpture, painting, building or bench. Mortise and tenon techniques were used throughout, although I did use a few screws for added strength with heavy use. The woods used are Port Orford Cedar for the lower seat support, Western Red Cedar for the back and seat, and Pacific Yew for the arm rest, tenons and butterfly joints.”
The bench turned out just like we wanted — a true work of art that is also comfortable and sturdy enough for all-weather use, all year around. It is our great joy to share this beautiful work of art with the entire Breitenbush community and visitors. We are excited to see it next summer, when the landscaping around it is finished.