With every catch comes an (I got cha) moment, like hooking a big one. It's a beautiful day. I'm alone in the woods, looking for gems. Yes, gems! Pearls! When I find one, I'm exhilarated. The web shimmers and dances in the sunlight with the slightest breeze. The silk refracts light casting rainbows of color at me. It is a thing of beauty and I wax ecstatic, but the capture demands all my attention. I stop breathing to make the catch and time stops with me. Then the hunt continues.
I enjoy my time in the field. I don’t refer to it as work. It’s a lot more like fishing, or hunting. It is something I do because I love to do it.
I love the outdoors to begin with and I’m very comfortable in the woods.
I spend hours there, in silence and in solitude. A bad day for me is (a walk in the park) without catching any webs. Not so bad really.
I have been mounting spider webs on glass for over thirty-five years. Having personally caught and marketed more than 12,000 webs, I am quite sure no one else has as much experience in this unique and fascinating art. Spider webs have become my passion, and my primary source of income. (I have hung up my hammer and tool belt and left behind thirty years in the construction industry.)
Spider webs are my niche. I am the only craftsman in the world offering this unique product. My work is marketed through more than a dozen retailers in the US, including the world-renowned "Evolution" in NYC and "The Bone Room" in Berkeley, California. I have shipped orders to Ireland, England, France and Spain, as well as Canada and Hawaii. Most recently I have added Japan to the list! My website, whirledwidewebs.com, reaches the rest of the civilized world and my videos, running on You Tube, are rated 5 stars. Yes, I do intend to cover the world in silk! Or at least collect webs from around the world! So far; I have collected almost two dozen different species, from: NJ, NY, Fl, Ca, Ore, Pa, and Hi.
Actually, I intend to create not only a livelihood for myself, but to build a legacy as the innovator of a new American craft, that will offer opportunity to others. I constantly strive for excellence in my work and hope also to offer a daunting challenge to those who may aspire to follow.
Having no rivalry in my art at this time, I cannot claim to have won any awards or prizes. However, my work is known and recognized by thousands of people. I intend to produce over two thousand webs in the year ahead (similar to last year's count.) I was the subject of a feature article in The Record, Bergen County's largest newspaper, on October 27, 2003. I was also featured in the Nov/Dec, 2005 issue of Bergen County Magazine. My webs were part of the "Gothic Splendor" display in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue in New York City, produced for House & Garden magazine by Douglass Little in October 2006. They will be in a museum somewhere, sometime. Soon?
Fort Lee, New Jersey, the 1970's: I was working on a glass project. It occurred to me that if I could catch a spider web between the two clear glass circles I had just cut, it would look really cool. Later I found I only needed one piece of glass if I coated it with varnish and caught the web in it before it dried. Applying a background color completely isolates the web. Unlike photos of spider webs; my method exhibits the web alone, free of distracting background. Otherwise, just take a picture, it's easier.
I started buying glass precut at a local shop. The edge was rounded using a wet belt sander. These were crude and expensive, a far cry from the beautifully polished bevels I now buy in bulk from Delphi Glass, for less! Delphi has in this way been instrumental to my success. The advent of PC'S and the Internet have provided a platform for display and promotion that has also played a key role. With my PC and printer, I am able to produce informational labels for the webs. Aside from just having my name on them, the labels contain genus and species identification, locale, etc. This lends a great deal to the credibility and individuality of each piece, and greatly enhances the item. As biological specimens, they are worthless without it.
Although I can find spiders anywhere I go, I live in Dumont, New Jersey, a twenty minute drive from the best spider hunting grounds I know of. Here in the Northeast, the season for spiders runs about 6 months, from May until October. The local woods abound with a dozen different species. I catch, on average, 20 webs a day 5 days a week during the season; or roughly 2,000 for the season. That is 2,000 original works of art per year, without even going web catching/vacationing in Florida or Hawaii for a couple of months during the winter. Yes, I know: it's a grueling schedule to keep, but somebody has to do it!