“I would as soon destroy a stained-glass window as an artist like yourself.” – The Man in Black
When we were in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta we heard that Petroglyphs National Monument in Albuquerque was a bit of a disappointment. So we were delighted to come across Three Rivers Petroglyphs a little way south of Carrizozo, NM.
A well-marked, invigorating hike takes you to prehistoric drawings of birds, reptiles, mammals, humans, fish, plants and geometric designs.
And unlike at Petroglyphs National Monument, you can walk right up to the rock art. With over 20,000 drawings, this is one of the largest petroglyph sites in the Southwest and in our opinion, not to be missed. We boondocked at the Fort Stanton Equestrian Trail Head at GPS coordinates: 33.514406, -105.510549.
It wasn’t fancy but it cost nothing to dry camp there. Water and Electric are $5 each per night but the water spigots were labelled “non-potable” so bring drinking water if you want to stay there. The night was perfect for star gazing and, unlike most of the places we camped in New Mexico, there were few if any goathead stickers to get stuck in the dogs’ paws. So overall, we really enjoyed this stop.
I love good surprises. Probably more than anything…except maybe Rocky Road ice cream. Roger loves art glass but not Rocky Road ice cream.
I found an art glass studio in Santa Fe, NM that gives classes on Saturdays during which the students make their very own glass paperweight. Wow, wouldn’t that make a great surprise for Roger’s birthday? Yes, yes it would!
The studio is Liquid Light Glass, Elodie Holmes is the artist/owner.
The hands-on class was so much fun and the instructors were so patient and taught us all so much about working with glass. And nobody got burned!
The instructor gathers molten glass on the end of a pipe and gives it to the student to practice handling it before getting started.
Colored glass is collected onto the molten glass according to the student’s design. Roger and I chose our colors independently and for different reasons, but as you will see at the end of this section, like us, they are a nice match!
The glass is re-heated to melt the colored glass and keep the whole thing soft and pliable.
The student begins the design work on the soft “core” of glass. I was making mine as a gift for my daughter; I’m concentrating pretty hard because I didn’t want to mess it up.
Another layer of color is added to my design.
The design Roger chose required a different technique. Here he uses a form to create striations in the colored layer.
Then he twisted the glass into the desired shape creating a swirl pattern with the colors.
Then back into the fireswamp it goes. Another layer of clear glass is added and the design is finished and ready for shaping.
A cherrywood form was used to shape the glass. This is the really hard part to get right so the instructors did the heavy lifting on this step.
We used a huge, tweezer-like tool to make a groove or neck at the base so the paperweight would come off the pipe cleanly once cooled.
Next we needed to keep the glass in motion, rolling it to maintain its shape as it cooled and hardened.
Roger gives the pipe something between a tap and a whack and the paperweight drops off the pipe.
The instructor re-heats the bottom with an oxygen-propane torch then another tool is used to press the bottom flat.
All finished. The paperweights had to go into an oven to cool slowly over the next 20 hours or so and we couldn’t really tell what they would look like because they had to be moved very quickly and the colors were still just kind of brownish and ugly. But what a great time we had learning and creating!
We felt exhilarated all the way back to Albuquerque. The day was nearly perfect but something was missing…so when we arrived back at Fezzik, I had some Rocky Road ice cream. Ahhh, perfect!
I highly recommend this glass working experience if you are in the Santa Fe area! And I highly recommend Rocky Road anytime, anywhere.
And (drum roll please) the final result of our efforts:
A collective of young Santa Fe artists got together to pool their talent, threw a bunch of words into a hat, drew out two and at the end of the day they had created a fountainhead of artistic originality and a name that is a little confusing. The group approached George RR Martin with an idea for an immersive, interactive art installation that he described in an NPR article as, “a Victorian house, unmoored in time and space with a haunted forest and a magical cave system, and portals to other worlds.” The group needed help acquiring a large space for this project so what did Martin do? He bought an old bowling alley and dumped $2.5 million into renovations. Frankly, I might have suggested they get a different kind of “help”…but I guess that’s why GRRM is a multimillionaire author and I am sitting in my pj’s writing a blog for 8 people.
The facility opened in March of this year (2016 in case you are reading this in the future…which would be the present now…but didn’t exist yet when I wrote this…oh, nevermind). Obviously my head is still spinning from too much time spent in the space-time continuum-portal-to-other-dimension-painful-brain-expanding world created by Meow Wolf.
There is a puzzle woven into and through and by the art; a mystery to be solved. Don’t expect to solve it alone, and don’t expect to solve it in one visit either. There were a few times I felt I was onto something but there were too many loose ends to pull together.
However, the artwork, the fantasy, the mystery and the beautiful weirdness of the place is well worth the price of admission (less than $20 pp) even if the answer to the mystery remains beyond your reach or inclination.
Here is just a tiny taste of what greeted us once we stepped through the refrigerator portal:
A southwestern outdoor scene complete with red pepper lights, glowing cacti and outdoor funiture. From inside the trailer you look out onto Arches National Park. Remember, this is while you are inside a Victorian home inside a building which was once a refurbished bowling alley! Whaaaat?!
Now we are in an ice cave. There seems to be a hole in the ice by Roger’s shoulder where light is coming through. Let me get a closer shot…
Oh, look! A world inside a world inside a world inside…ouch! My brain hurts!
From up in a treehouse (inside the Victorian house inside the old bowling alley) we look down upon a street in Chinatown.
And there are no words for the musical, color-changing mushrooms…
…or the sense that the birch trees are watching you…
…or this nightmare inducing grey-scale kitchen. OK, there ARE words but they mostly just come out like, “Aaarghlydarwhaaaaaaaa?!” or the slightly more coherent, “whoaaa…”
The House of Eternal Return is a wonderfully fun place to be and explore, to touch and feel and hear new, interesting, bizarre, and sometimes otherworldly things. Go there. Do it. Sit down or lie down in some of the over 70 rooms. I guarantee you will laugh at least once and you will be so amazed you will want a friend with you to remind you to close your gaping mouth!