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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Y Gostrel

i Pam, er cof am Steve Petro

Onid o law i law
y daw pob dim
yn y diwerdd!
Syllu or gostrel, 
malachit a jasbis,
a'n gleiniau'n gyno.

Saif ar y pontran
yn dysf i lafw
un a'i gariod at garreg.
Ei thoeio a'i ddwylo
ei choethi ii'w harddwch,
sychu'r llwch
a'i naddu'n lan. 
Cyn ei gollang
yn rhydd eto,
o draeth bywyd
y draeth cyn troi'n 
eiddo i arall.
Fel heddiw
-- o law i law 
 yn daw ein dydd.

The Costrel

to Pam, in memory of Steve Petro

Isn't everything
handed down
in the end?
I gaze at a bottle 
malachite and jasper,
intricate stones.

It sits above the fireplace,
witness to the labour
of one man's love for stone.
Diminution refined
in beauty,
sweeping aside the ash
clean hewn.
Before releasing
it free again--
from the beach of life
it arrived, turned
for another to possess 
from hand to hand, comes our day.

        by Menna Elfyn (written 15. iv. 2013)

               Costrel, for those who don't know--like me--is a word in biblical Welsh word for "keeping wine." My friend Menna Elfyn wrote this poem for me in memory of my father, after I gave her one of his "snuff bottles." Menna is the foremost poet writing in the Welsh language today--and one of the most translated poets in Europe. My dad's "snuff bottles" are hand-carved from the mineral specimens he collected all his life. The ones pictured above are of malachite with a jade top, and jasper with a jade top. I put "snuff bottles" in quotes, because while they're modeled on antique Chinese snuff containers (another passion of his), they aren't hollow, so they aren't actually useable as bottles. They're beautiful objects without a purpose. They're art.
               The bottle I gave Menna has a malachite base and a jasper top. These two

are made from pebbles collected on the beach at Cape Cod, polished on a grinding wheel, and sport rhodocrosite tops.
               In my dad's files I found a hand-written description on yellow legal-pad paper of how he made the bottles. Here's what he wrote: "The stone bottles were made first by blocking them out on a 6" homemade diamond saw; then by grinding into bottle shapes using 100 and 200 grit 6" grinding wheels; then sanding and polishing using 220, 400, and 600 grit wet sanding paper and two homemade sanding wheels; then they were then polished using cerium oxide on hard felt wheels.
               Most of the stone bottles are not drilled out (several were drilled about one half-inch deep); the tops are glued on and they are not removable (except for the few which are drilled, as noted above).
               The stone bottles were prepared from the following list of minerals: chrysoprase, pink quarts, carnelian, sodalite, pale purple amethyst, striped jasper, agatized palm wood, yellow tiger eye, laboradorite, red jasper, jade, moss agate, malachite, rhodochrosite, brown obsidian, and calcite (fluorescent red, from Franklin, NJ)....
                May the reader of this document, sometime in the future, have as much fun interpreting it as I had in making and acquiring this collection. Good luck!"
Stephen Petro

This final group, from left to right, is made from a beach pebble with an agate top; tiger's eye with a pale amethyst top; and aventurine with an agate top.

Thanks to both Steve and Menna for the beauty.

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