Saturday, June 23, 2012

Soltaire's Discovery

A new resident of New Island tells his story...

The Story of My Arrival on New Island

by Soltaire the Assembler
"While it is highly unlikely that any citizen of New Island, let along passers-thru, would have any interest in knowing the facts surrounding my introduction and romance with New Island, perhaps my offspring would like to know how it is that they have inherited my five acres on Gresl Ridge in Mulhenry County, above the Sacred Otter Wandering Preserve.
"Before the year 2000 I had no knowledge of New Island, none in the slightest. I was not much of a wanderer, nor did I have any desire to remove myself from my comfortable small home in Wisconsin. It was an odd quirk of fate that brought New Islandto my attention...and it was due to my particular form of art-making...and some considerable improbable good luck.
"I had taken on the appellation of 'Soltaire, the Assembler' as a result of my fascination...perhaps fixation, compulsion, and/or passion with all manner of artifact...natural, ancient, popular, recent, valuable or valueless, depending on who was the viewer. I found a need to gather together these many elements from many milieus, and join them in assemblage sculptures. Some of these sculptures were small, perhaps two feet or smaller, but most were large, reaching to twelve feet in one or more directions.
"In one of these assemblages I incorporated the bill of a sawfish which I found in some forgotten curiosity shop. This particular sculpture was a tribute to one of my grandfathers who passed well before I was born, but who was held in high esteem by my entire family...who was spoken of as a bit of a mystery man and an adventurer. In fact I titled it 'Grandfather's Souvenirs', and created it to appear as an old cabinet of curiosities, ostensibly consisting of objects he might have acquired on his travels around the world. (For anyone who wishes to see this finished sculpture, go to and search the site.)
"It was only in casually studying this sawfish bill, with the toothy and sharp protuberances along its sides, that I noticed some printing in faded ink. Someone had written this phrase: 'Bill from a Saw Tooth Shark, taken off the southeast coast of New Island'. And, more surprisingly...unbelievably in fact...I found the faded and bleached name...of my grandfather. Yes! On this oddity, this remnant of a beast from the other side of the world which I had found in a rural shop in Wisconsin, was the name of my fathers' father.
After recovering from the shock, and reading the words many times, I was convinced that this marine artifact had once been owned by my grandfather. This astounding turn of events led me to seek out where this place, New Island, was on the globe. I was further surprised that I had chosen a somewhat difficult chore, to locate this place, as not all maps included it. That alone intrigued me, and with some effort I eventually I learned more about the unique history of the Commonwealth. I was drawn to visit it. After all, my adventuring grandfather had been there, and this island in the Indian Ocean was one of the few links I had to him.
"So it is that I was introduced to this remote place of oceans and dreams, this island of things seen out of the corner of one's eye...not all clear and solid. It was a place that reminded me of tales told to young children, drawn out of fairy tales, stories built out of imagination, sunshine and clouds.
"How could I not move here?"
From Soltaire, The Assembler, New Island resident on Gresl Ridge, Thistledown Plot Studio and Gallery.

   This area is at the lower right on the road map:

Soltair's five-acre building site is about a six hour solar-bike ride (mostly uphill)
or a two-hour bus ride from Victoria harbor.
By bus, take the Ignatz-Hockney Islebus and get off at Gresl Ridge,
just before the Blum's Inn stop.
Then walk the quarter-mile path to Thistledown Plot Atelier.
Soltaire the Assembler will greet you when he completes his studio-gallery.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Soltaire's House Progress

      Soltaire the Assembler's mountain home and studio is well under way...

      Architect Faramond says, "Things are going well enough. My original plan of steel beams fell apart when I learned of the cost. Then I remembered ferro-cement, which uses a mesh of thin steel rods and mesh, then cement-stucco, then a polyvinyl sealer-coat. Beautiful technique, and, it's cheap!
      "We've completed the stone walls and arches for the openings, and now my expert cementman is installing the roof. The sod will go on soon after; and when the grass is strong, bring in the goats!"

Faramond's Sketch of  Thistledown Atelier as of June 16.

Here is th location of Thistledown and Gresl Ridge
Soltair's five-acre building site is about a six hour solar-bike ride (mostly uphill)
or a two-hour bus ride from Victoria Harbor.
By bus, take the Ignatz-Hockney Islebus and get off at Gresl Ridge,
just before the Blum's Inn stop.
Then walk the quarter-mile path to Thistledown Plot Atelier.
Soltaire the Assembler will greet you when he completes his studio-gallery.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Putney House Under Construction

The unique house commissioned by the woman known as Travelin' Gal and designed by Faramond the Architect is well under way. The stone walls are complete, workmen are putting tiles on the roof, and the windows are going in. The view is of the back of the house, which faces Putney Bay, seen in the distance down Rigby Street.

The house progress hasn't gone un-noticed. The neighbors have been commenting on its unusual roof line, and one woman was heard to say, "I'd like to know why this house doesn't conform to the sidewalk like all the rest do in Peagarden - It is crooked!" The house is at the corner of Rigby and Joplin Streets (Lot 6), in the Peagarden Park neighborhood, the oldest in Putney: 

If you are lost, Peagarden Park is in this part of Putney:

If you are still lost, this is where Putney is located on New Island:

And this is where New Island is located on the planet:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New House in Putney

An adventurous soul know as Travelin' Gal has decided she just loves the old Peagarden Park neighborhood in Putney. She found a vacant lot there a few months ago and has recently appointed the mysterious New Island architect Alan Faramond to design her house. The lot, it turns out, is the very one with the story posted in April of this year. Faramond is hard to find, but New Islanders who know where to look hire him for his "build with nature" skills.

Faramond complied with these sketches.  Travelin' Gal is pleased and construction will start in a couple of weeks.
The house will be built of  hewn Wicklow limestone, that is brought in by barge from quarries near Silent Bay. The porch pillars will be branches and the base from a deceased fig tree that once grew in the rear of the lot. The carvings in the tree's trunk tell their own story!

Though the house faces Rigby Street on these plans, it will be tuned to face more westerly toward Joplin Street and the view of Aussie Slough and the harbor.

Travelin' Gal, originally from California, arrived on New Island in 2011.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Earth Home in the Wicklow Mountains

Wisconsin artist Soltaire the Assembler has begun construction of his new home in the Wicklow Mountains. He claimed five acres of land on the ridge named after a distant relative of his, and has selected the site below for his house.

The site has a stunning view of Otter Bay, Ignatz Island and the Eastern Coast.

The new studio-residence will be known as Thistledown Plot Atelier.

Mr. Soltaire has approved the concept and plan sketches, 
and construction will begin in the next week or so. He will also be constructing solar and wind -energy sculptures to provide heat and power.

Soltaire comments:

"Thistledown Plot looks dreamy...yummy...integral to Mother Earth...and "Bah" to conservatives who want to live in traditional houses.

They have their freedoms to live their lives happily under circumstances of their choosing...but must let others live out theirs in other happy ways.

New Island...I established for that purpose."

                                                                                               -- Soltaire, The Assembler