Cambrian: Opinion

Ranch serves as inspiration for Cambria artist, who gives back

Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve’s offices are at 604 Main St. in Cambria.
Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve’s offices are at 604 Main St. in Cambria.

The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve provides a place to walk and spend time with friends or quietly alone. It is a place to enjoy nature and, every now and then, a place to find inspiration! Patricia Griffin walks there almost daily, enjoying the abundance of nature practically in her backyard. She didn’t have to look hard for inspiration for her new clay pieces.

Frequently, Patty walks the Ranch with her husband and two dogs. In her blog, Griffin wrote: “Our hikes often take us past dedicated volunteers who maintain the trails and battle the invasive plants (such as the Bull Thistle) that encroach upon native species. As we romp by the hard-working weed-pullers with our dogs in tow, it's easy to feel a little sheepish. This project is a way of expressing my gratitude for the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and to acknowledge the volunteers who help take care of this treasure for all of us.”

A local potter, she decided to immerse herself in a California Naturalist course through the University of California at Camp Ocean Pines last summer, and she was inspired by her daily walks to create “Natural Beauty,” a series of small hanging tiles. The artist collected plants on the Ranch and took cuttings back to her studio to impress them into stoneware clay. These became the starting point from which she individually designed each piece, hand forming springs of leaves and other elements to add to the surface.

After applying pigments to highlight details, the pieces were fired and mounted on beautiful plantation-grown hardwood donated and cut by Jay Burbank and Walt Andrus. Loree Parral, Walt Andrus and Jo Ellen Butler helped mount each piece. The results are stunning.

The tiles will make their debut at FFRP’s annual holiday fundraiser “Songs for the Season,” Dec. 9. Patty’s new tiles will be for sale for the first time at the event, and she will also demonstrate how she creates them. After Dec. 9, the remaining tiles will be available at the Patricia Griffin Studio and Gallery at 1601 Main St. and the FFRP Office at 604D Main St., both in Cambria.

All proceeds from the first 66 tiles of this series will go to the Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, dedicated to protecting a very special, biologically diverse habitat on California’s Central Coast.

Another great story involves the founding musicians for our “Songs for the Season” fundraising event. Mary Schwalbe and Ron Perry were both Wednesday Weeders volunteers on the Ranch. Working together at invasive weed removal ,they shared their stories and found out that each had an interest in music. Both musicians have professional music backgrounds, mostly in southern California. They introduced the idea for “Songs for the Season” and have been playing music together for many different causes in Cambria ever since their meeting on the Ranch.

“Songs for the Season” has become a welcome start to Cambria’s holiday social calendar with an afternoon of camaraderie, delectable food, music, wine and raffles, as well as some spirited and competitive bidding for the choice silent auction items on offer this year. This can be an opportunity to do some unusual holiday shopping — maybe even a special treat for yourself? Please join us from 2 until 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9, at the Fog’s End Barn, 2735 Main St. in Cambria. Celebrate the season and support the Ranch. Tickets, $20, are available at the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, the FFRP Office and at the door.

Jo Ellen Butler is executive director of Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. Ranch Update appears quarterly and is special to The Cambrian.

Upcoming events

Docent Walks — March 19, Aquatic Vertebrates; April 3, Wildflower Identification Walk; April 30, Local Plants and Their Uses; May 14, A Forest Bird Walk. Details, reservations:

Wednesday Weeders (sometimes Trails) — 8 to 10 a.m. every Wednesday.

FFRP monthly meeting — 6 p.m., second Thursday of every month, Rabobank Meeting Room, 1070 Main St.

Ranch Workday — 9 a.m. to noon, third Saturday of every month (project and meeting place announced by e-mail each month).

Call the FFRP office 805-927-2856 or email for more information.