Photography 101 – treasure and glass

It’s the last week of Photography 101 and the first two themes are treasure and glass.


My treasure has a story, as most do.

During a family holiday over 20 years ago, I celebrated a birthday. My parents gave me money to buy a present.

We were staying in Tofino on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. On our last day, we went back through a small community, Ucluelet. Part of the reason was to visit a crafts centre. I wanted to buy a First Nations carving as my present.

The crafts centre was in a traditional long house – quiet, contemplative and filled with art and crafts.

Two back walls were covered from floor to ceiling with carvings. Many were cedar and permeated my nose with fresh spiciness. I spent close to half an hour wandering visually over the walls, looking for a piece that spoke to me.

Having always loved water, a salmon was the obvious choice. I picked up my treasure and turned it over, looking for any information.

After reading the artist’s name, I was stunned to see my birth date but no year. Was it carved for me?

It smelled so strongly of cedar and the rich auburn wood seemed to glow.

Assuming it must have been carved at least the year before, I carried it to the desk to pay for it. I also asked the staff if they knew the missing year.

Without hesitation, “it was carved yesterday. The artist brought it in this morning.”

carved cedar salmon

birthday salmon and experimenting with light


Glass has also been a treasure. I love the idea of creating beauty from sand, whether it’s art or everyday objects.

The vase in the photos was blown by me with a tremendous amount of support from an expert.

Hitoshi and I stopped for a break at a rural road station in Shikoku, Japan. The small complex had a glass crafts shop with a studio for glass blowing.

We watched two people working in the studio and Hitoshi noticed a sign for a drop-in class. The times didn’t fit with our schedule, though. I was disappointed but Hitoshi asked the sales staff if we could try anyway.

The answer was yes! And the result is below.

The first photo is repurposed from my “likes” in week 2. The other ones were also from that time.

building refracted in vase in window

refraction in vase – still my favorite

vase in window

vase on window frame – pulling in bits of a building and a pine tree

pine through in a vase

pine tree through a vase and experimenting with putting a subject centre

Have you had any experiences that seemed more than just coincidence?

6 thoughts on “Photography 101 – treasure and glass

    • Thank you! I started off taking photos of the carving on the wall and then a table and then against the couch and then from different angles. It was a long but enjoyable process experimenting with ISO and low lighting. While it’s not perfect (ha ha), I’m happy with what I learned. It was also fun for the memories. I’ve had that carving for over 20 years. It stopped smelling of cedar long ago but I can still imagine its original scent.

      I am very proud of that vase. Blowing glass was tremendously hard work and I had no idea! I would love to try again sometime.

  1. Incredible stories, Hilary. There is no coincidence sometimes, I believe in that. The salmon and the vase are gorgeous. You are very talented. Have you continued working with glass?

    • Thank you! I like to think so, too… in that there are times when it is not coincidence. While scientific methods can explain a lot, they fall short and sometimes a reason is not necessary.
      No. That vase is the only thing I have made and I had a lot of help from an expert guiding me through each step. My respect for glass blowers raised exponentially after trying it. It’s something I’d love to do again once baby is older and my focus can diversify a bit. 😀

    • Thank you! It was fun to take my salmon off the wall and try and find a nice angle. Like I was saying to Annette, it’s amazing I’ve had the carving for over 20 years. It’s faded a little and has more dust in its lines. It’s incredible that it hasn’t cracked in this super dry climate.

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