#3 Working for Harvey

My Job, the pig farm, Sandy comes to live, packing the show, stories.
The time came for me to drive out to Littleton’s farm/studio to find out what my job would be as his assistant. When I arrived Harvey was waiting for me. He introduced me to his wife Bess and his son John. He had 3 other children, Tom, Maureen, and Carol but they were not living at home.

After the introductions he took me on a tour of his studio and began to explain what my duties would be. His hot shop was large and there were, as I recall, 2 furnaces and a few annealers. It was actually quite impressive. His studio seemed to be in better shape than the one at the university. There were many pieces of glass scattered throughout the studio. Harvey was in the midst of creating works for an exhibition he was to have at the Lee Nordness Gallery in NYC. My job was to grind and polish the tops and bottoms of many of the works he had created. The cold working room as I learned it was called, was a separate room and that was where I spent most of my time. Harvey took me through the stages of grinding and from there polishing. Learning to grind and polish was not difficult and I soon found myself tediously grinding and polishing the edges of his sculptures. There were these thick nested bowls of differing colors that needed to be ground and then polished. He also created these tall vertical spire like sculptures as well as ones that were loop shaped. The top and bottom of these sculptures had been diamond saw cut and had to be ground and polished as well. It was not an easy job and was very time consuming. These particular works varied in size from 1 foot to 2 feet or more. I spent many an hour working on those pieces.

Time passed and I got to know Harvey fairly well as well and his wife Bess. I should mention that Bess had a beautiful greenhouse where she raised the most beautiful orchids. Up to that time I had only seen pictures of orchids. They were beautiful and Bess took great pride in raising them.

As time went on I grew tired of commuting from Madison to Verona where Harvey lived. I found a house in Verona and rented the bottom floor of the house. There were two ladies that lived on the top floor and they had a big dog named Rafferty. The house was owned by a farmer and was situated on his farm. As it turned out it was a pig farm. I have to tell you that I learned a lot about pigs while living there.

It was lonely living alone on that pig farm and spent a lot of time on the phone with my girlfriend Sandy who was living in Philadelphia. Every once in awhile when I got some time off I would take the long drive to Philadelphia and spend time there doing a lot of this and that. On one of my trips I asked Sandy if she would like to move to Verona, Wisconsin. Long pause, and so Sandy packed her stuff and took the long drive with me back to Verona and the pig farm. I think when she saw the house situated in the middle of nowhere she had second thoughts. Well we settled in and not long after Sandy got a job working at the local TV station writing advertising.

Winter arrived and I had no idea how cold winter could be. 15 degrees below zero for weeks on end was not much fun. My car froze to the point that the engine would not turn over. I called Dave Jacobs at the Paoli Clay Co. and asked if he could give me a tow to a garage so I could thaw my car out. He agreed and came to my house and hooked up a chain to my front bumper and to his rear bumper. It was, to say the least, one of the most harrowing rides I have ever taken. Going by a semi truck on a two lane icy road with only a chain keeping me in my lane kept my butt cheeks very tight. Eventually I installed a radiator heater that I would plug in at night and my engine was warm in the morning and as an added bonus I had instant heat. Life was getting better. Time went on and Sandy and I settled into our new life. I worked at Harvey’s and was also in the midst of learning to be a glass blower. Sandy worked at the TV station.

One day I was at Harvey’s having lunch with him and he happened to open a letter and commented that he was having trouble finding an editor for a book he was writing. I mentioned to him that my girlfriend Sandy had been an english major and had done extensive research at the Library of Congress for an author that was writing a book on the U.S. Secretaries of State. Harvey seemed interested and asked if I would bring Sandy to the farm so he could interview her as a possible editor. I brought Sandy by the next day and Harvey gave her a folder full of what he had written so far for his book. As it turned out Sandy was able to make sense of what Harvey had written and outlined the order of the book. After a few days she brought the work she had done to Harvey for his approval. He was very impressed and hired her on the spot. Sandy worked with Harvey for a good number of weeks on that book and eventually the book was published, titled, “Glassblowing: A Search for Form”. Harvey did not credit Sandy in his book. In my opinion Sandy was a primary force in organizing and editing what Harvey had written.

I worked long hours with Harvey at his studio helping him get his work together for his exhibition at the Nordness Gallery in NY. The time came to pack the work and load it in his station wagon. Harvey was not one to spend much time packing. His packing consisted of wrapping the work in blankets and laying the pieces in the back of his station wagon. We worked a good part of the day loading the work and eventually night fell and we had one piece left to load. It was a very large vertical piece and required a somewhat delicate hand in getting it into the back of the station wagon. We had run out of blankets to wrap it in and Harvey off handedly said he would just carry it out and just lay it down on top of the other blankets. It was pitch black out and I was very skeptical of Harvey’s just laying it down on top of the blankets in the back of the station wagon. Harvey dismissed my skepticism and said he would carry it out and lay it down. I don’t know what possessed me but I bet him a dollar he would not make it. He took me up on my bet and proceeded to carry it out to the car. A few minutes later Harvey returned and reached into his wallet and gave me a dollar. He had hit it on the top of the car and it broke in a few pieces.This little accident did not deter Harvey and the next day he set out to deliver his glass for his exhibition.

I have more fun stories to tell and will in a later blog. Stay tuned.
To be continued.

Sandy Pig Farm -small. th-4145002774 Harvey Studio 68-325
Sandy at the pig farm in Verona- Type of work I polished- Harvey's Studio,1968