Barb Godwin – The Art of Pyrography
Born in Texas, I have always had a love of all things “wild” and expansive. I have enjoyed nature in all of its forms and my avenues for enjoying it have been through extensive travels. From the winding warrens of medieval villages in Europe and SE Asia, through vast African savannas, to the ultimate landscape and rarefied air of Antarctica sailing the high seas. My adventures have heightened my love of all that is natural.
Art was second nature growing up. By earning a degree in Art Education and History I was able to share and teach art to youngsters in grade school and middle school. Art was my foundation and filter in viewing the world around me. It heightened my awareness of the natural…and sometimes not so natural world.
I have explored many forms of art media including jewelry, ceramics, photography, wood carving and currently pyrography. From each media I have gleaned valuable insights leading me to my next form of expression. It’s only in my more mature presence that I am able to devote the time and patience to this very detailed art form. One needs to nurture and practice the awareness of seeing things as they really are and not just with a fleeting glimpse. One should take time to be in the moment and explore all of the senses.
Pyrography presents a unique palate of earth tones applied with heat. Long ago artisans would use glass or metal to reflect the sun’s rays for burning figures and images onto leather hides, wood and other surfaces. Today the tools are far more advanced with uniquely designed wire nibs using variable heat temperatures to create a multitude of details, textures and shadings. I first used pyrography to add details to my woodcarvings but realized that I enjoyed “drawing” with heat to create unlimited textures, shading and depth without actually having to carve the wood.
My work has been shown in galleries, private collections and has received numerous awards. I continue to hone my skills by attending various seminars and classes provided by leading professionals such as Julie Bender of Loveland, Colorado and Josh Guge of Elgin, Illinois.
For more information on my work and possible special commissioned works contact me via the contact form below.
There is no substitute for a few hours of horizontal snoozing. Although I must admit the delayed reaction factor is quite pronounced. I’m trying to rev up the body and it is slow to respond. The hotel provides an outstanding selection of local dishes as well as a mixture of Euro/Western favorites. From the looks of this buffet we will not go hungry.
It’s still a bit drippy and downright chilly so already the cold weather clothes are feeling pretty good.
We’re off to drive around the new town to get our bearings and then we’ll stop for a walk-through the Open Air Museum of Ethnography where about 70 different buildings and homes from around Georgia have been reconstructed. Some of the houses have been reconstructed to present a living example of the local culture of each region. The local guide gave us a complete description and demonstration of how life would have been in the house. The young woman had a beautiful smile and a great command of the english language. It was most entertaining and enlightening.
The Georgian people are very proud of their heritage and many skills…but my astute senses have picked upon the fact that one of their premier accomplishments is the production of wine. Even the outdoor museum displays the tools of ancient wine making. Not just at the wine makers house…but at several other houses displayed on the hillside. Hummmm…this bears further investigation.
The concept of time is lost on my body and mind at the moment…but the guide has kindly suggested that we should stop for some lunch. Ok, here’s where confusion steps in…if we left for the tour around 2pm…and you figure we have been exploring the city for a couple of hours…what time is it really? I have never been one to turn down an invitation to dine so we head to the restaurant for lunch.
In this world of “Guinness World Records” it seems that everyone, everyplace and everything must be a historical milestone. History measured in firsts, biggest, highest, oldest….etc. Well, Georgia has it’s fair share of amazing historical “Firsts, highest, oldest and foremosts” to joint the ranks of important “facts” of our world. Let me name a few –
A 1.7-million-year-old skull(really, really old) found during Dmanisi archaeological excavations is the oldest evidence of human habitation in Europe. It proves that there is almost one-million-year gap between Dmanisi and any European early-human site, making Georgia the homeland of the FIRST European.
Legendary Jason and the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece – an ancient Greek myth based in Georgia. Numerous gold artifacts have been found in the area and Tim Severin’s recreated voyage of 1984 proved that the story of
the Golden Fleece could easily be true, especially considering Georgia’s centuries-old tradition of getting gold particles from
flowing mountain rivers with the help of the fleece.
Grapevines have been cultivated in the fertile valleys of Georgia for about 8000 years. With over 500 varieties of endemic grapes and the world’s first cultivated grapevines, the traditions of viticulture are entwined with the country’s national identity. It is also believed that the word “wine” is of Georgian origin (“gvino” in Georgian). Gives new meaning to “aged” wines.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Georgia boast multiple sites
Ancient Capital of Georgia – Mtskheta Svetitskhoveli Cathedral – 11th century
Jvari Church – 6th century
The Town of Kutaisi – Gelati Monastery – 12th century
Bagrati Cathedral – 11th century
Upper Svaneti – Medieval Watchtowers
Ancient Christian Country
- The Caucasus Mountains stretch for about 1200km between the Black and the Caspian seas – a natural boundary between Europe and Asia with summits over 5000m, including Mt. Elbrus (5642m) – the highest in Europe.
- At 2200m Ushguli is the highest settlement in Europe. The medieval Svanetian watchtowers of Ushguli is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- The Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is one of the largest in Europe and the first national park in the Caucasus.
So many notable sites encourages a traveler to spend considerable time just on the historical highlights…yet there is much more to discover in this small country.
As with any unique destination it takes a bit of planning and preparation for travel from the USA to Georgia located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. First and foremost for international travel you’ll need a passport but fortunately you won’t require a visa. Most countries surrounding Georgia do, so be sure to check the visa regulations for Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Be sure to check with the CDC to make sure you are up to date with vaccinations as well as the possibility of having to get extra ones. For travel to the southeast region you might check for malaria outbreaks. It’s always better to be up on all the required or suggested shots. There is nothing worse than getting sick during your trip.
Did I mention that traveling to Georgia is a bit of a hike? I plan to travel via Munich with a long layover. I’ve built in about 12 hours and will get a day room at one of the two hotels at the Munich airport – Novotel and Kempinski. There are other hotels and local German Gasthauses in a nearby village if you feel like leaving the airport complex. Many of them provide free airport shuttles. I prefer the long layover so that I can get horizontal and sleep before continuing on to Georgia. The flight departs at around 9pm and gets into Tbilisi, Georgia around 3am. The other flight option possible is on Turkish Airlines with a layover in Istanbul. Remember, if you want to spend any time in Istanbul you need a visa but you can buy them in the arrivals area of the airport. No matter how you slice it, travel time is upwards of 30 hours from the midwest.
I’m hoping to squeeze as much as possible into one checked bag and one backpack. Dress in Georgia is casual so that helps immensely. I’ll be back with more pre-planning details soon. Stay tuned.
Georgia…not Peachtree or the Bulldogs…but the country that used to be part of Russia – that is until 1991 when shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union it declared itself an independent country. There has been much positioning back and forth with Russia and with internal factions over the last two decades. With the most recent Rose Revolution in 2003 the country of Georgia is maintaining its independence.
With the pending 2014 Winter Olympics scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia….curious travelers are glancing further east to the small relatively unknown country of Georgia. With its location only a stone’s throw from Sochi it is natural for adventurous wanderers to consider expanding their travel plans to include this unique and fairly unknown country in their itinerary.
After all, if you can make it all the way to Sochi why wouldn’t you go ahead and include a visit to Georgia right next door?
If you’re reading this right now, SMILE, you’re alive! The possibilities ahead of you are infinite, it’s true. Think about this and let it inspire you. A good life begins right now with a choice. It’s going to be a fun, finger-snapping kind of day if you want it to be. Choose wisely and indulge in the goodness. Enjoy the sights and sounds, watch the clouds, stare at the stars, and imagine yourself dancing among them. Your life is for smiling, imagining, exploring, learning, hugging, sharing, caring, helping, and healing. Choose to do these things. Choose to make the most of the gift you’ve been given. Wake up every morning in such a way that the negativity committee lingering in the back of your mind says, “Oh crap, not another happy day!”
“Should one contemplate the importance of an experience if it is real or imagined? If the real experience is cloaked in an aura of imagined pleasures, which is more important – the real happening or the imagined pleasures? Or, does it really matter?”
My most memorable experience in wine tasting was in the Stags’ Leap region of Napa Valley. This small unmarked boutique winery was nestled far back into the hillside and tucked under the rocky palisades. One had to have “faith” just to be able to find this charming and hidden treasure. With a name like “Quixote” why should the journey be any less exciting than the discovery. This most pleasurable and entertaining spot was anointed by the famous and somewhat eccentric Austrian artist “Friedensreich Hundertwasser” as a place of mystical powers and good fortune. The winery is the only structure designed by him that is located in the USA. That uniqueness extends to the luscious wines that are produced here.
The aura of the locale plus the magical quality of the architecture blends to present a truly remarkable experience for a novice wine taster. I must confess that I have very limited exposure to the wines of California and have only lately arrived at the doorstep of rich and robust Cabernets. It was with amazement that I first sniffed and then “chewed” the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon release. Not that I was able to discern between the blackberries and the cherries or the oak and anise….the amazing fact was that this wine simply coated my palate with a warm rich and velvet finish. It lasted long….. and pleasantly departing only when I was longing for another sip.
Quixote Winery focuses only on the Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignons….and they tease the palate for more. They offer two labels – Quixote and Panza….Don and Sancho would be pleased! All of their fruit is sourced from the family’s 27-acre, organically-farmed Stags’ Leap Ranch estate vineyard planted in 1996 located between Stags’ Leap Winery and Shafer Vineyards.
It was a special treat and unique experience to enjoy their winery and wines on a clear and bright September morning. If you are out their way, be sure to call for an appointment and directions….remember, the journey is as exciting as the destination. Real or imagined, this visit offers true pleasure.