LABYRINTH CIRCLES
An Occasional Newsletter from Robert Ferre
Summer, 2011 edition
Contact me (robert@labyrinth-enterprises.com) with your comments and suggestions

Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC -- THE Resource for Labyrinths
www.labyrinth-enterprises.com

In this issue: BIG CHANGES at Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC
--My retirement from on-site installations
--The closing of the Labyrinth Enterprises Studio
--The departure of Judy Hopen
--The forming of a labyrinth artists' collaborative
--Reorganizing product and book sales
--Recent labyrinth installations
--Labyrinths at VA hospitals
--No more bricks and mortar
--Opportunities at Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC
--My new blogs

My Knees Get a Rest
I founded this company in October of 1995 (then called the St. Louis Labyrinth Project), becoming a full-time labyrinth maker as of January 1, 1996. I was the first full-time labyrinth maker in the United States. Now, turning 67 in July of 2011, still strong of back and knee but with decreasing stamina, it is time to put away the knee pads. This will free me to turn to some other interests, as well as concentrate on some writing projects (which will include the ultimate labyrinth construction manual). In May of 2010, I remarried, beginning an exciting new life together with Linda Ricketts. An Episcopal priest, Linda is from Massachusetts, but currently lives in San Antonio, TX, where I have now joined her (leaving St. Louis after 23 years). Linda and I look forward to doing labyrinth-related lectures and trainings in the future. Meanwhile, I will continue the management and administration of Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, as it transforms into an artists' collaborative (see below). In that way, my expertise and knowledge will not be lost. You may continue to depend on Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, to obtain an excellent labyrinth, and on me to help with that process. Please note, I will not personally be the on-site installer of your labyrinth. That duty will be filled by the artists in the collaborative.

A New Path for Judy Hopen, "Labyrintiste Extrordinaire"
Judy Hopen's reliability, dedication, and skill were an important factor in the success of Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, through the years, for which I remain very grateful. She has hand drawn and painted more labyrinths than anyone in the history of the world, achieving a skill level that caused me to bestow on her the title "labyrintiste extrordinaire." As part of the reorganization of Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, Judy will be opening her own studio, much as the sous chef leaves the famous restaurant to be the head chef at her own place. When we have contact information regarding her new email and web address, we will post it on the website. We wish Judy every success.

Labyrinths at VA Hospitals
Three years ago we visited the national offices of the Veteran's Administration to talk with them about labyrinths. Subsequently, they purchased a canvas labyrinth from us. Since then, we have been in touch with numerous VA hospitals around the country. This past May, we finished the installation of a Chartres labyrinth at the VA hospital in Marion, IN. This is an excellent trend, offering this powerful inner tool for G.I.'s dealing with PTSD. The labyrinth is safe ground, to men and women for whom, in Iraq or Afghanistan, the ground blew up, injuring them and killing their friends. The labyrinth is a place of safety and quietude and relief. Amen.

No more bricks and mortar
Our labyrinth work takes place all around the U.S., in Canada, and even abroad. Our artists live in all corners of the country. These days, a physical presence is not required. As a result, the new Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, will have no physical location. Although my garage in San Antonio holds a few tools, all business will be conducted via internet, email, and cell phone. Payments will be wired to our account, while bills will be paid using online banking. Further, I will be conducting the business from myriad locations, from the Pacific Northwest to coastal Massachusetts, from France and Italy to a cruise ship on the high seas. I'm not much of a technical buff, but I have to say I like the idea of being liberated from a set location. We will still have bricks, of course, but they will be for our paver labyrinths, not for our office.

My New Blogs
Cruises, bread pudding, happiness, labyrinths, travel -- these are some of the subjects about which I will be writing. I haven't opened up the blogs to the public, yet, but I hope to, soon. They will likely be found on my personal website, www.robertferre.com. Presently rather outdated, I hope to make that website the center of my writing activity. Stay tuned.

Labyrinth Enterprises Studio Closes as of July 1, 2011
When we first opened the studio in 2006, our justification for leasing 8,000 square feet was to expand our business by hiring additional artists and getting serious about marketing. We planned to keep numerous labyrinths in stock, for immediate delivery. None of that ever happened. Instead, the studio remained a small cottage industry, with Judy Hopen doing most of the work. In January, 2009, Judy was promoted from employee to proprietor of the studio business. Our prices were fixed, due to competition, and could not adequately reflect either our superior quality nor the cost of our studio -- overhead that our competitors do not have..Judy and I both love the studio, but it was necessary to admit that it never reached sufficient economic viability. In April of 2011, I decided to close the studio as of the end of June. This was rather short notice for Judy, who is now scrambling to open her own, more efficient studio. (See related article about Judy.)

Labyrinth Artists' Collaborative Forms
Yes, yes, I know - - "collaborative" is an adjective, and I am turning it into a noun. (That's not any worse than turning google into a verb.) This new direction for Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, is actually something I envisioned long ago. Potential clients can contact me to discuss the technological and financial considerations of obtaining a labyrinth. Then, when the necessary parameters have been determined (pattern, medium, site, budget, timing), I will pass on the work to the appropriate artist(s) in the collaborative. In this way, I will be able to stay active in the process, utilize my expertise, yet retire from the physical demands of the actual installation. To further the range of possibilities offered to clients, I welcome any experienced, professional labyrinth artist to join our collaborative. There is no cost to join, with only a small royalty paid to me based on the contract price. I will soon complete the written terms and conditions, clarifying our roles, responsibilities, and legalities. Please send a description of your work and your area(s) of expertise.

Book and products sales on hold
Judy has been the one who filled orders for the products sold on our website. With her departure, I will need to find another way to do that. Temporarily, sales have been discontinued. I travel too much to be the one to pack up objects from a specific physical location. I am looking into selling my books via my website, to be downloaded directly by the purchaser. Alternatively, I could have them with a print-on-demand company, such as lulu.com. Amazon carries only two or three copies in stock in their warehouse, replenishing them when they are sold. When they run out, they expect their re-order to be filled within 48 hours. This won't be possible when I am on the road. The remaining items, posters and such, the world can do without or obtain them from other sources. The taping machines can be made by seeing our free do-it-yourself instructions on our website. So, this is yet another area of Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, undergoing change.

Recent installations
As I write this newsletter, I am still sore from installing a granite Chartres labyrinth at Grace Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, California (south of San Francisco). Helping on the project were my wife, Linda, labyrinth maker David Blonski, and a host -- and I mean host -- of volunteers. We masked off the pattern in record time, with ten people working on Saturday. The coloring, too, went quickly, but we spent two days detailing. This is the process of leveling out the irregularities. It is, essentially, the penalty paid for using volunteers. On the other hand, it is a wonderful way for the church to build community, and also to lower the cost. In the end, it looked great. The crushed granite comes in many wonderful colors which normally are not available in concrete products. In this case, it was brick red. There are also many excellent blues and greens. For more information, see the gallery section on our website.

Opportunities as Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC
I would like nothing better than a young apprentice who would like to follow in my footsteps as a labyrinth builder. Of course, I pass this knowledge on during my labyrinth-making master classes, but they are few and far between. I hope to write about our tools and techniques, but that still isn't the same. My preference would be for Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, to go non-profit. It's purpose has always been less a commercial enterprise and more a mission to get labyrinths in the world, properly built and used. I am not the one to take Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC, to this next level, but perhaps there is someone who would like to get involved, and become the administrator of this new collaborative. It could eventually include training, granting credentials, and perhaps even giving grants to those hoping to extend the knowledge of labyrinths. Perhaps this non-profit could have a reading library that would house my personal book collection on labyrinths, Chartres Cathedral, and sacred geometry. Our most experienced labyrinth artists are all pushing 60 years old, or more. Hello, is there a younger generation out there to carry this work into the future?

 

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