A magical jewel-like garden will dazzle the crowds at the West Seattle Summer Fest's street fair this weekend, July 13-15. Just north of "The Junction" of California and Alaska streets and right in front of Jak's Grill, beneath a banner that says Moss Studio Metal Art, metal flowers, large and small, with centers of brighly colored glass, will shine, shimmer and glow in the sunshine.
And that's not all. There will be colored butterflies, perched on slender posts. Lifelike metal dragonflies, hummingbirds, and elegant cranes can be found among metal leaves and vines that wind gracefully through sculptured garden trellises. Light will shine through a glass birdbath.This might sound like a scene from a science fiction fantasy, but all of these beauties grew right in the neighborhood, in a local artist's garage.
That artist is Mike Pond, a man with vast experience at wood-working, stained glass, metal sculpture, and glassblowing. He retired recently, but the business called Moss Studio Metal Art that he runs with his wife, Gayle Garvin Pond, has blossomed into a full-time job. It all started when he decided to make a few pieces of yard art for their own home. Then friends wanted some too. Now enough people want his unique creations to keep both Mike and his wife Gayle busy, each in their own way.
Gayle, who still works full time at another job, said, "I find the glass, and I set up the events, and I get to do the bookkeeping—and he does the actual making of the stuff." Among the types of glass she must constantly seek are vintage 12" railroad stoplight lenses that Mike uses for the centers of large sunflowers made to hang in windows or on walls.
"Everything’s glass," Gayle told me. Daisies on 15" stems have centers made from tealight candle holders, installed backward. "We started out with reproductions of old bowls and plates. Now, whenever I find cool bowls or something like that, from the junk store, we get those too. But because they’re clear, he’ll sandblast the inside and then paint them with translucent paint. That’s how he gets the color on the butterflies too." The paint will last, even in rainy Northwest weather.
No two pieces are alike. When a woman ordered three hummingbird trellises, Mike made each one a little different. "The herons, they are gorgeous," Gayle said. "It’s all hand done. He doesn’t use any machines. They are all unique."
By now, Mike's work has made its way into a large number of Northwest homes and gardens, but the audience for his creations keeps growing. "We have shipped them to Colorado and Florida," Gayle said. "Yesterday, a lady bought three and was taking them to Alaska." With every sale, the Pond's request that buyers send them a photo of how their art looks in its new environment. Some do, and you can see those through their "Found a Home" link.
Prices vary greatly according to style, size, materials, and the hours involved, but you can own one of Mike's butterflies for only $25 and the daisies on 15" stems cost $35. Because of the unique nature of each item, it's best to buy them in person or custom order.
A week after the West Seattle Summer Fest, this couple will bring their magical garden to the Vashon Island Strawberry Festival July 21-22, and among the people they meet there will be many dear old friends. Gayle's family came to the island several generations ago, and Mike's family moved there during his early childhood.
"It's so much fun to be at the fairs and meet people," she said. She would love to meet you too.
Here are some other upcoming opportunities to find Moss Studio Metal Arts: