Learning by Doing – it’s the Taliesin Way.

In February while Michael was attending a meeting at Taliesin West, he saw the wonderful center pieces being created for the dining room by Immersion student, Rob Rainone. He asked Rob “How can I get one or two of those”? In the true spirit of the Taliesin philosophy and the philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright, Rob replied “I won’t give them to you, but I will show you how to make them”.

We were delighted and honored to be shown step by step the process to create the cement cast, rock embedded candle holder that looked just like the walls all around the Taliesin campus. For anyone who has visited or spent time there – you would be familiar with the construction process using rocks and sand from the desert placed in forms and filled with cement. These multi-use tea light or taper candle holders have just that same look, as they should – all those little rocks came from the same desert!

Rob had already mapped out the entire endeavor from mold making to exact drying time, each step carefully measured and monitored from trial and error experience that we thankfully did not have to go thru. Our first task was to go outside and select a number of rocks that would look good in the finished product and fit nicely inside the space provided. The hard part was deciding when enough was enough – there are just too many beautiful rocks out there!

The mold we used this day was handcrafted by Rob out of rubber with unique details in the same essence as the buildings. We received instructions on how to build our own molds so we could produce as many of these little beauties as we like! (Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas?) Next came measuring in exact grams the proper amounts of sand, cement and warm water. Yes, warm water – it makes a difference in drying time. Once fully mixed, the fun begins with placing each stone against the side of the mold and distributing the cement behind it.

After filling the mold completely and leveling off the excess cement for a surface that will lie flat when inverted and a few taps of the mold on the counter to release air bubbles – we had a hour to kill while our creation dried so we visited the bookstore on campus… so many cool things to look at!! Once the hour was up we returned to the workshop where Rob showed us the easiest way to release the candle holder from the mold and the importance of giving the almost finished block a light bath in clean water with a stainless steel brush to give the surface texture and remove any fragments of cement or rock.

Success! We had our finished product and the experience and satisfaction of making it ourselves! For more information regarding the art of Rob Rainone, please go to www.robrainone.com. For more information regarding organic architecture, architectural services, plans and designs, please contact Michael Rust Architect 1321 W. McNair St. Chandler, AZ 85224. www.theorganicarchitect.com 480-219-0554