The color of patina
on a copper Peace Pole
I make peace poles out of materials that exude substance and endurance. I make them wider and taller to give them "presence" to legitimize the message. And I make them to last for generations.
The color of my welding shed
It takes 6 to 10 weeks to make a peace pole depending on the size and material. Limestone takes 10 weeks. Metal takes 6 weeks. For a rush charge things can be made to happen more quickly.
It took a few years of experimenting
with the patina on copper
Once on the phone someone was testing me about who I was to be making peace poles and what my work was like. Which is legitimate. I understand that and don't mind it.
Copper, heat, gases
But one of the questions she asked was whether I had a peace pole in my own yard.
The glow of the heat on my hazmat suit
Later I repeated the question to my wife and we had a good laugh.
Experimented with making one
out of glass
I had three by my front door, five around back, peace poles leaning on the side of my house, in my basement, in the garage. . .
In the beginning I tried wood
They can take over the yard because I want to see them outside from a distance.
I got better at that, but how long does wood last?
I want to see them at night, and in the morning before the sun hits them, and at noon when the light is blinding.
Stainless Steel lasts forever
I need to walk around a corner, happen to notice one across the yard and think, "Maybe I should try . . . " and make a new design.
(Placeholder for coming photo.
Site is in development.)
What does peace look like? How can one visually represent the moral, political and spiritual dimensions of it?
Someone knitted peace
Fortunately, a visual vocabularly has been established by the founder and all of the people who have followed "planting" poles with text about peace.
The first peace pole was planted in Japan by Masahisa Goi shortly after World War II. There they have a tradition of marking things with posts with vertical text on them. So Goi wrote "May peace prevail on earth" in Japanese on on one and had it translated into a different language on each side.
"Peace" in his handwriting
Someone saw it and wanted one. Someone saw that one and wanted one too. And it became a movement.
"Peace" in a Japanese font
Now more than 400,000 peace poles have been planted everywhere from the North Pole to the Gaza Strip, often in ceremonies at which they have been dedicated by everyone from President Jimmy Carter to Mother Theresa.
"Peace" in Mandarin
Glass melted on copper
As you can see the Chinese word for peace is the same as the Japanese, except with the characters in reverse order. China had an alphabet for about 3,000 years before Japan and Japan borrowed from it.
Sometimes working on the translations takes more time than making the peace poles.
It can take a week, the first time,
a specific translation cut through metal correctly
Most peace poles are 3 and a half inches wide and, once planted, about 6 feet tall. Mine are larger and so usually go to parks, campuses and churches. But not always.
Cap for a peace pole in front of a Dojo in Sweden
I made a peace pole for a family that was designing a garden around it for their daughter's wedding.
Garden design for a park
Quite a few have been given as gifts, sometimes from a scout troop or a graduating class after a period of fund raising. Sometimes to a soldier as a homecoming gift.
Diagram of paver layout around a 5-sided peace pole
Years can be spent raising funds, like for the peace pole below planted by the Westminster High School in Maryland when they needed a place to grieve after a tragedy - a plaza with seating around their limestone peace pole.
Broad community support is common for these efforts, as shown in this newspaper article (on this site).
If you haven't yet clicked on links to see the peace poles, here are three:
I have made art that was about peace but that wasn't peace poles, like the dove with olive branch above that I hammered out of copper, and the Mandarin in vitreous enamel (glass melted on copper) further below, but the search for how to make peace poles better takes all the time I have.
Peace Pole caps I discarded
William de Kooning worked for a year and a half on his "Woman," applying paint, scraping it away, starting over, painting over the top of it, mixing large volumes of paint with solvent or water or eggs to delay its drying so that he could keep working and working on it.
For me peace poles are like that, but with piles of scrap metal afterwards.
I threw this away too
More interior illumination is coming.
But what can be done to make them speak more evocatively?
Leaning on welding shed at dawn
What can make peace poles more of a part of the communities in which they stand? I get to work on that.
* * *
Random notes about Peace and Poles
International Day of Peace:
September 21 is the United Nation’s annual International Day of Peace marking the anniversary of its passing the General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace that declares, among other things, that the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of each State.
Some who promote the anniversary say it is celebrated by someone in almost every country on earth.
International Flags at a peace pole dedication
Do It Yourself:
How to make your own peace pole.