kyle cassidy (kylecassidy) wrote,
kyle cassidy

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It actually started long before Ken Thomas shot a hole in my hat with a .45

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Or before we saw the western diamondback rattlesnake waiting for the sunrise along with us on a big rock at the top of a mountain in the Coronado National Forest.

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It really starts in Canada, with Kate McKinnon, the metalsmith and author who wasn't even in Canada. Someone taking a photography workshop I was doing in Toronto said "I'm here because Kate McKinnon told me to come here.". Who was this Kate McKinnon? I looked at her web page and found she was a globtrotting jeweler who made things with fire and hammers -- great broiling metal things -- birds and flowers and bones and rings with houses and cities and planets on them -- rings that would enfeeble a body builder had they to lift them -- everythign large and delicate and forever. She'd been reading my blog and we got to chatting and thought it would be nice to do something together. So we did a four day workshop in San Diego which you can read about here in this awesome travel diary called California Velocity.

It went so well we thought we'd do another with me teaching a desert photography portion of the class in the beginning and then photographing jewelry at the end and so I found myself about to get on a plane for Tucson. The instructions for the class said "we will be in the desert, where you can DIE, be sure to bring water and a hat."

Now I needed a hat. Somewhere in the house I had the boonie hat I'd worn in Egypt, though I didn't know exactly where it was. I'd had a cowboy hat that I'd gotten at a truck stop when I was crossing the desert doing Armed America but someone had filled it with fireworks and it no longer functioned as a hat.

And here we see where Twitter can act as an assitive tool for blogging. I asked the Twitterverse, "should I get a big floppy sun hat, or a cowboy hat for the desert?" -- and by a margin of 10:1, cowboy hat won. "Well," I twittered, "if I get a cowboy hat, someone will have to shoot a hole in it." -- I was joking but it did seem that if you were wearing a cowboy hat in the wild west it should have a bullet hole in it. Kate posted to her blog about it and Ken Thomas, a blogger and photographer from North Carolina who was coming to the class wrote back saying "I'd be happy to shoot a hole in Kyle's hat for him." So it was on. Social media will get you a bullet hole in the hat if you think you need one.

Days before the the hat shooting though, I did my desert workshop. With Kambriel who brought models and fashions we worked on composition, and using flashes during the day time, working with models, and coming up with moods and stories with the existing elements you have access to.

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Then the class started and most of the week looked like this -- Gabriella annealing a silver flower she'd made out of fine silver metal clay so that she can bend the petals:

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I took behind-the-scenes photos and in my down-time Kate guided me while I forged a ring for trillian_stars -- I made it from metal, with hammer and tongs and fire and an anvil. I kid you not. There was much fire involved, and molten silver. It was an empowering experience. I wish I'd known before -- I would have made her wedding ring myself.

Saturday morning Ken and I and two of the students from class got up at 5:00 a.m. to photograph the sunrise from the top of a mountain. It was a marvelous experience -- seeing the saguaro dotting the hills in a ring around us as the crepuscular light glowed alive. Not long after the disconsoling buzz of ATV's began to ring in our ears. The people were here for nature.

"Throw your hat on the ground over there," said Ken. I tossed it down and Ken shot a hole in it. The hat flipped up into the air in a cloud of dirt. "Now you have a hat with a right interesting story," he said in his wonderful smooth southern accent. I picked up the shell casing and we walked back towards the car.

"Look over here," Ken said, "pointing to a small western diamondback rattlesnake curled up on a rock waiting for the sun. We took photos. The rattlesnake seemed unconcerned. We got in the car and drove back. Ken spotted a giant hawk on a powerline on the way back. We got out and took pictures.

With all the noise and joy still racing though me as the world started to wake up, I knew that everything ahead was going to be amazing, wonderful, and life changing. I'm meeting people who will change my future in great and small ways and these days in the desert with people who make things and find rattlesnakes and name coyotes, will be part of the catalog of Great Things in my life.

And I have a hat with a story.

In case you were curious about the cowboy hat choices -- I twittered a number of them for voting -- of the three contenders, hat #1 can be found here, hat number two here, and hat #3, here.

Another photo of the rattlesnake taken with my iPhone & originally posted to Twitter can be found here.

Another photo of Kambriel in the desert taken with my iPhone and initally posted to Twitter can be found here.

If you want to make your own rings or necklaces or bracelets or unspecified art objects from metal with hammers, check out Kate's schedule at and if you want her (or us) to come to your city, drop her a line, I'm sure she'll do her best to make it happen.

Even if you have no kiln, nor harvester ants, nor rattlesnakes, nor gunshot-hat, do something wonderful today.

Add me as a friend on LiveJournal, Add me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter.

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