Tiffany Windows

I’ve always loved Tiffany glass, maybe because I grew up with Tiffany-style lamps in the house. So when I learned of the Tiffany Windows Education Center at a church in downtown Boston, I made plans to go with a friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather was on our side so the windows were especially gorgeous that day. The Arlington Street Church has 16 Tiffany windows, which were installed between 1898 and 1930. I couldn’t pick a favorite because they were all beautiful. Any Tiffany enthusiast in Boston should make a visit here.

 

A Sculptor’s Summer Home

My mom and I met in the Berkshires earlier this summer, so I took the opportunity to visit a place I hadn’t been to before: Chesterwood, the summer home of sculptor Daniel Chester French. French is best known for sculpting Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial in DC.

We went during the week, so it was quiet there. The location is stunning; from the terrace of the house, you can see Monument Mountain.

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Only a few rooms of the house are open to the public, so the main attraction is his studio.

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A small museum tells his story, and there are gardens and trails on the property as well. We didn’t have time to explore the grounds, but I’m sure I could have spent at least an hour walking around. All of the staff were delightful, and I look forward to visiting again sometime.

 

Learning About Armenia

I walked into the Armenian Museum of America not knowing a thing about Armenia, except that its people suffered a genocide (but I had no idea when). At first glance, it looked like a small museum…but I spent almost two hours there.

There were many beautiful artifacts and artworks:

Armenian Museum artifacts

Armenian Museum artifacts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was thrilled to see a Yousuf Karsh exhibit. Born in Armenia, he was a famous photographer who took stunning portraits.

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa
Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The term “genocide” was first coined by a lawyer who was studying the events that led to the extermination of 800,000+ Armenians between 1915 and 1917 by the Ottoman Empire (later known as Turkey). What can I say about this…no words suffice. I’m glad to be informed about this horrific time in world history, but I struggle to comprehend such evil.

The Armenian Museum is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood of Watertown, Massachusetts.

A Cultural Smorgasbord

It was a happy accident that I experienced a cultural smorgasbord within a four-day timespan in March…

Every year, I like to try a new art form. This year, the Groupon gods sent me a water marbling (or ebru) class, which was taught at the Turkish Cultural Center. I’d never heard of water marbling. I invited my art partner in crime Mary along; this was our fourth birthday list art escapade.

Our teacher was Turkish and just lovely. She buys all of her art supplies from Turkey, including special paper, brushes, and paints. I can’t quite explain the process; it was like magic. There were about 10 of us in the class and we rotated among three work stations. We stood in front of a pan of water that was treated with something special for 24 hours. We then picked a few colors, dipped the brush into the paint, and kind of “flicked” the paint onto the water, circles of color floating in the water mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we decided that we were done, we gently laid a piece of paper on top of the pan of colored water, slid the paper off, and voila, the paint ended up on the paper!

We each made two pieces and I was pretty happy with the results…but I mistakenly left one in the classroom and I have misplaced the other one! Search online for “ebru painting” sometime and you will see what a beautiful art form it is.

A couple of days later, I went on a tour of a local mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, thanks to the organization of my friend Anya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walked into the mosque not knowing anything about Islam. Our tour guide was wonderful and spent more than the allotted time with us, telling us about the history of Islam and the history of the mosque. She explained the main tenets of the religion and answered our many questions. I left with the message that Muslims want the chance to explain their religion to others; they want to be a part of the community just as other religions are. I highly recommend taking a tour at your local mosque if you are like me and didn’t know anything about Islam.

A few hours after I left the mosque, I was attending a performance by Kodo, a group of Japanese taiko drummers. I’ve been interested in taiko drumming ever since I took a class last year.

I was expecting a few hours of loud, powerful (but beautiful) banging on gigantic drums. Silly me. It was a few hours of drumming on many different types of drums, plus bell ringing, plus beautiful and sometimes humorous choreography.

In the aftermath of this smorgasbord, I felt grateful to live in a city that offers so many opportunities to experience other cultures. For someone who loves to travel but can’t always afford it, I cherish the fact that I can have such experiences without leaving home.

Burning Down the House

The new craft I tried this year was woodburning. I saw a kit online about a month ago and decided to try it and make some Christmas gifts in the process.

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The kit included the tool, a few different-shaped points, letter stamps, and a bunch of wooden utensils.

I wasn’t nervous until I watched a video tutorial, during which the host mentioned that the tool warms up to 950 degrees.

That’s hot.

I’m happy to report that I didn’t burn myself or any of my possessions. I enjoyed trying it out, although I have a long way to go to perfect it. I really liked using the letter stamps but realized that one needs to have somewhat of a perfect touch to get the whole letter burned—not too light and not too dark.

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This might be a craft that I explore further. Have you tried woodburning?

Happy New Year to all! Thanks for reading about my birthday list adventures.