January 2013 Issue
January 2013 Digest
Ski slope safety, vintage banks, creations in ice, a passion for pottery and the environment.
Dashing Through the Snow
Ohio may not have the magnificent terrain of ski areas out West. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t good opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts here, says Bill Currier. And he should know. The Sagamore Hills resident is the director of the Ohio Region/Central Division of the National Ski Patrol (NSP). In fact, Currier adds, that lack of mountain skiing just might save a few backs from being broken.
“You can ski fast in Ohio, but you can’t go 50 miles per hour because the hills aren’t long enough,” says Currier, an NSP member since 1978. “Also, most of the ski areas here are wide open. We don’t have a lot of trees for people to run into.”
Still, Currier has seen his share of breaks, strains, slips and falls. It’s enough to keep 850 of the mostly volunteer Ohio NSP members busy. Within the state, many of the patrollers are members of Boston Mills and Brandywine ski resorts in Summit County. Trained in outdoor emergency care and transportation services, they’re on the lookout for folks needing aid.
Currier, who took up the sport as a youth in Maine, says the patrol also aids snowboarders and snow tubers.
“Tubing has become very popular in the past five years, especially among high school and college students, because it costs half as much as skiing,” he explains. “Although most of what we see is not very serious, you can mess up your shoulders, arms and legs. People tend to [try maneuvers] beyond their ability.”
The NSP focuses as much on education as it does on first aid and rescue. The organization encourages snow sport lovers — especially snowboarders — to wear helmets, says Currier, a retired engineer and IT professional.
Despite the ups and downs of winter sports, Currier encourages Ohioans to “embrace our winter weather” and take advantage of the exercise it provides.
“I enjoy not being a couch potato,” he says, “and I like helping people. But most important, I encourage them not to get hurt so I don’t have to help them.” — Jill Sell
To learn more about the NSP, chartered in 1938 by Congress, visit nsp.org.
At Home with the Earth
A self-described “city girl” from Tiffin, Sister Jane Frances Omlor became a member of the Sisters of St. Francis in 1961, one year after graduating from high school. But, she readily admits, the rural environment of the St. Francis Community was “an unbelievable shock.”
“I picked berries, dug potatoes, made sausage and cleaned chickens,” she recalls 52 years later. “It was all part of the Tiffin Franciscans’ life and commitment to caring for the earth.”
Through the years, Sister Jane earned a master’s degree in art from the University of Notre Dame, and spent 17 years teaching in the mountains and hollows of West Virginia. There, she gained an even greater respect for our relationship and responsibility to the earth, and developed passions for what she calls her “two life-changing interests” — pottery and protecting the environment.
In 2006, Sister Jane brought those loves back to Tiffin. Today, she teaches courses in pottery, and holds two weekend retreats at the St. Francis Spirituality Center each year. Participants spend time praying, meditating and perfecting the craft.
“Pottery is all about transformation,” she reflects. “You start with a lump of clay and in minutes you have a beautiful piece. Then there is the firing, drying and glazing. The whole process fits our spiritual life.”
Respect for the environment is also in the foreground. Last month, Sister Jane and a team of 75 volunteers completed Little Portion Green, a two-floor, 1,000-square-foot, passive-solar house on the Tiffin campus. The dwelling generates its own energy and contains straw bale as insulation and plaster made of clay. It will be used to teach students of all ages how natural building materials save energy and preserve the environment.
“Hundreds of people have already been through the house,” Sister Jane says proudly. “Although they may not want to build a completely green house, they can still use some ideas to retrofit what they have.” — JS
For more information about the St. Francis Community campus, visit sfctiffin.org
It’s in the Bank
After the frivolity and indulgence of December, most of us are ready to buckle down and embrace the new year with ambitious resolve toward health, relationships and finance. For those looking to tighten the belt, pinch pennies or stretch their dollars, perhaps the gift of a daily reminder is in order: Vintage and antique banks come in many shapes, sizes and materials.
Ohio’s rich history in the fields of metal production and pottery has lent itself well to creative versions of the classic piggy bank. Though collectors generally do segment by material (cast iron bank collectors vs. pottery vs. glass), the best examples in every category rise above the rest with terrific detail, excellent condition and rarity. From the cast iron creations of Kenton Hardware to the whimsical pieces from Houghton Pottery, bank collectors have plenty of options to indulge this pragmatic interest.
Filled to the brim with each day’s loose change or simply as a reminder to head to the drive-through teller, these nostalgic pieces may provide a little inspired self-control for even the most lavish spendthrifts among us.
For more information on collecting vintage and antique banks, visit garths.com/collecting
. — Amelia and Jeff Jeffers
“Ohio Finds” features fascinating objects brought to the attention of Amelia and Jeff Jeffers, co-owners of Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers, an international firm outside Columbus
The Ice Man Carveth
How do you calculate the value of a melting moose? Several years ago, ice carver Greg Butauski created a 2,500-pound, almost life-sized sculpture of the animal from large blocks of ice for a resort in Colorado. After the three men who stole it were captured by police, it took a team of lawyers to determine exactly how much the sculpture melted to collect damages.
But clearly, thieves aren’t the only ones who appreciate the Sunbury artist’s skills. In 2005, Butauski won the prestigious World Ice Art Championship, and has placed second and third multiple times since. He also was selected to lend his talents to past Winter Olympic Games.
Ice sculpting competitions challenge and satisfy Butauski’s artistic side. But he’s also a smart entrepreneur: In 1993, he and business partner Trey Justice founded Rock on Ice in Columbus. The men spend their days creating ice sculptures for corporate events, wedding receptions, sporting events, snow festivals and other celebrations. Need a giant fish, seahorse, Sphinx or throne carved from ice? How about a bar made completely from ice or a giant dispenser that doles out shrimp for your next party? No problem.
Butauski uses some 3,000 blocks of ice per year for his creations. Each block weighs 300 pounds and is 45 inches tall, 20 inches wide and 10 inches thick.
“Ice is fascinating to me because it is a temporary medium. But that means you have to be a speed carver. You can carve in a freezer, but I don’t like being cold. We carve at room temperature around 70 degrees,” says Butauski, who uses chainsaws and smaller tools for refinements.
The craftsman is one of only six certified master carvers, a designation of the National Ice Carving Association. He frequently travels to Japan, Canada, Germany and across America for competitions and commissions. A certified ice-carving educator, Butauski also teaches at the Columbus Culinary Institute at Bradford School, Columbus State Community College and several vocational high schools.
“And yes,” he adds with a smile, “I’m one of those people who fills my glass to the brim with ice before I pour my soda in.”— JS
For more information about Rock on Ice, call 614/449-8770 or visit rockonice.com