This time around, Baltimore wasn't 99 degrees and humid. A chilled, dry, and sustained front transformed a once-searing mass of brick and cobble in to a delightful East Coast tourist town. Clipper Mill, the restored steel-foundry and industrial park from the turn of the last century, looked fit and swanked-out for the more affluent "Bawlmer" crowd. And Hampden, ever on the rise with hipsters, flaunted its new delis, Espresso lounges, and wine-bars. I fit right in to things, and despite a three-year hiatus, I remembered street-names, directions, and stores.
The same could also be said for my return to Mandala Creations.
The second I stepped in the shop, familiar smells, machines, and metalwork greeted me. It's gratifying to work so long in my own, secluded context, then travel 3,000 miles and instantly contribute to the productivity of Mandala Creations. Chris Edie, Chris Gavin's right-hand man, laid out his menu of work before me, and said "take your pick!" So I did. Tapers, power-hammering, hydraulic-press work, machining, and some very fun encounters with the metal lathe filled out the week. I got my hands dirty on a exquisitely clean and well-designed pot-rack for a new restaurant in downtown Baltimore, and it was a bit surreal to encounter the vibe of a job-site on the right-coast.
Here's a close-up of the new pot-rack in the forthcoming Fleet Street Kitchen:
Back on the farm where Chris lives (twenty minutes outside Baltimore), we made our mornings happen with ground cardamom in our coffee (try it!), bounteous spreads of farm-fresh food (literally... Chris manages a small organic farm as well) food, and nightly bonfires. True Maryland country-chic, I suppose.
I have a number of other photographs depicting the forging I did, but they'll have to wait till I get home.