# # Ted Schaal's Compass Rose

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Ted Schaal’s Compass Rose

Ted Schaal's Compass Rose

In a recent post, I mentioned having worked at a bronze foundry close to 20 years ago (“Lost and Foundry”) and the sense of family that the place left me with, despite all the time and distance that has accrued.

Thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected with a number of the folks I worked along side with (or for) in those days and one of those people is sculptor Ted Schaal.

I knew Ted as the head of shell when I was in sprue (if all of this is gibberish, you really should read the aforementioned post, linked above) and I always wondered if he knew how his name was being used by the more “alternative” leaning members of our crew.

As I related before, the wax department had a large and noisy air handling system designed to suck the inevitable, copious particulates out of the room. Adjustable hoses snaked down from the air-handler’s ducts above, allowing those below to position them as needed. Certain members of the sprue team used these hoses to not only rid the air of the wax smoke from their soldering irons but also the marijuana smoke from their lungs, which they secretly exhaled into the ever sucking mouths of the hoses throughout the day.

For some reason, there was an interest among them to know if their cannabis-corrupted compatriots had yet imbibed. Instead of asking the dangerously obvious “are you high?” of one another, they would inquire “Where’s Ted?” a goofy euphemism for “wasted?”

Early on, before I came to understand what it meant, I heard one of my coworkers ask another “where’s Ted?” and I answered before the other could, that I’d just seen him walk into the shell room. I received blank stares that somehow said all manner of things, including but not limited to: ‘shut up,’ ‘who asked ya?’ and ‘dork.’

Hey, being a clueless noodge is my natural habitat and I carry it with me wherever I go. Doop-de-doo …

Interestingly, I learned later on that, despite the use of his name in this manner, Ted did not use marijuana or any other inebriants – a real rarity in the foundry industry that I knew. I got the impression that he once had been a bit wild but had now moved on to more fulfilling pursuits.

The other thing I found out was that this quiet, hard-working guy was, as so many of us were, a sculptor – and not a half-assed, rainy-weekend dilettante like myself but serious about it.

I saw one of his pieces going through – an intricately decorated box – and I remarked how cool it was, so unlike the bulk of the other “art” that passed through our foundry.
“Who did that?” I asked my boss, who was busy spruing it to a cup.
“Ted who? Shell Ted?”
“Wow.” I had no idea.

As I say, Ted worked in a different department so, though we did chat on occasion, I never really got to know him well. Still, 10+ years later, when we both ended up on Facebook, we re-established our connection and I took great pleasure in seeing what he was up to.

His sculpture (schaalarts.com) has evolved into something even more fascinating than before: geometric shapes interacting with more natural ones, textures contrasting with planes, careful balances leading the eye to a focal point: fascinating stuff.

When Ted created a Facebook page for his sculpture (Schaal Arts Inc.), I “liked” it – not only because I actually *did* like it but also to help get it out there in my own, small way. Little did I know, he was planning a drawing to give away of one of his sculptures, a small “Compass Rose,” based upon the folks who “liked” his page.

Guess who’s name came out of the hat? Ted Schaal's Compass Rose - pointing NorthI was shocked to learn this, as I’d “liked” for pure, not greedy reasons – but I was also thrilled. I collect friends’ art and here was another piece!

I was shocked again when it arrived – the rose is made of bronze and about 7.5″ in diameter – not too bad, shipping weight, wise – but it’s mounted on a 12″ x 12″ x 2″ sandstone base! I can only imagine what it cost to ship it …

Ted Schaal's Compass Rose - getting aligned Upon receipt, I checked with Ted that it was finished for weather (it is) and, before the week was out, installed it in my yard. Some visiting family drove up as I was doing so and thought I was burying the cat. No. Not yet. We’re waiting for him to die first.

As this is a compass rose, I felt compelled to get it pointed correctly … but I needed a compass to do it! I’m a Colorado boy, see. Larimer County, to be specific, and that means I grew up with the Rocky Mountains as my guide. Consequently, when I see a mountain range my brain says “WEST.” In Washington, I am *surrounded* by various ranges and peaks, some of them volcanic and non-intuitively located, so my sense of direction here has been limited to less-specific concepts of direction such as “that-a-way” and “over yonder.”

Sussing out which way to properly install the sculpture in my yard helped cement a concept of North for me here on the Olympic peninsula, and I am thankful for both that and, of course, the incredibly gracious gift.

Thanks, Ted!

Ted Schaal's Compass Rose pointing North over Discovery Bay towards the Strait of Juan de Fuca

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