John and Judy Davis are visiting from Wisconsin's Fox River Valley. They will be spending a week with their son Nirvani Nilakanthanatha. Both are retired. Judy is a master gardener while John is an accomplished carpenter.
The traveling monks felt much smarter following a short visit to Harvard University, where we were taken into a vast genetics laboratory where advanced research is being done to make the world a healthier place. We would explain just what the scientists and technicians were doing, but that would require us to understand the things they told us.
Next, we crossed the plains to Loveland. Colorado. Loveland? That's right. This little town an hour north of Denver is America's foremost sculpting and bronze casting region. There are over 300 sculptors here, five major foundries and dozens of teams of craftsmen. So, it is not surprising that this is where our Iraivan Temple Builders' Tribute is being made.
Rajkumar Manickam drove up from Eagle, Colorado to spend the days with us, and Rushika Suriyakumar flew in from Concord, California, and Holly Young flew in from the Big Island to meet the team. Together we all took a day-long tour of the four major shops that are involved in the making of the bronze statues.
First, Page Bronze where Bobby and Kathy Page showed us the wax model of Holly's next masterpiece, two silpis sitting back to back on a stone, one doing the rough cutting and the other smoothening the stone. Kathy had duct-tapped the pieces together, so we could review the sculpture. It's amazing, a powerful depiction of the silpi arts. Rushika was conscripted into placing a square, hammer and several chisels which will show visitors in the future the different types of chisels used for different tasks.
Then off to the foundry, where Chris took us into a never-never land of 2000 degree metals. He had arranged for a pour to coincide with our visit, so we saw the whole thing.
Next, we stopped at Debbie Bakels Patina shop where the all-important colors are added to the metal. Debbie gave us a Chemistry 101 course during which we learned that she makes her own iron oxide with rusty nails that she rusts herself. Seems the store-bought iron oxide does not bond as well with the copper in the bronze. Finally, we visited another Debbie, who crates and ships the statues.
That evening we all came together at a local restaurant for a Celebratory Dinner. This team which works so closely still had never gotten together socially, and the presence of Holly and Rushika made it an historic dinner. Sadasivanathaswami had prepared a 20-minute slideshow summarizing the past accomplishments (we have finished five masterworks) and looking to the work ahead (we have three to go)
Each one of the craftsmen was called to the podium to speak of her or his experiences in making the works (especially Gurudeva's), and their stories were remarkably similar and surprisingly spiritual. Seems their lives and even their businesses have been transformed in the past four years as they work on the tribute pieces. It was a delightful gathering to be remembered far into the future of futures.