This is the first in a series of occasional articles about how local residents kept busy and adapted to the “new normal” over the past pandemic year.
During the interminable days of the lockdown we all responded in our own way. Some of us got very familiar with Netflix. Others of us doubled down on the daily dog walks. And many, many more of us became one with Zoom. But for many other Piedmonters, the COVID-19 home lockdown of 2020 and 2021 sparked a flicker of inspiration. They rolled up their sleeves and got creative.
Pulling away from laptops, glowing cellphones and beckoning couches, they got to work in whatever stuck-at-home creative space they could muster — a backyard garden, a basement art studio, an improvised garage workshop, or perhaps just a cleared-off table in a spare bedroom.
That’s how it happened for Susan Hill, a former Piedmont mayor also known as the mainspring behind the city’s Harvest Festival. Hill used the lockdown to plunge deep into two of her favorite projects — creating glass mosaics, and needlepoint.
“I’ve lived in Piedmont all my life and never experienced anything close to this lockdown,” said Hill. “It has made us all feel so alone. A good way to survive in difficult times is to be creative. There’s a lot of creativity running through this town.”
Her creative focus also provided a healthy and soothing new rhythm to her day, replacing the regular routines which had been disrupted by COVID-19. Every morning at the same time she put in two hours of work. And every evening after dinner she put in two hours more. “Having a schedule helped me so much,” she said. Besides her dog Ollie, Hill said, her creative inspiration in her workspace was regular reruns of one of her favorite tv shows, the detective series Monk, which Hill loves for its levity. When she needed change of pace, she turned to needlepoint.
Seven of Hill’s lockdown months went into creating a large glass mosaic of a skier that she named Out of Bounds. She painstakingly assembled the mosaic from pieces of colored glass that she shaped at a table in her basement workshop, using a water saw, pliers, snippers, a grinder, adhesives and sealants.
The mosaic was partially inspired by Hill’s real life experience: for a time she worked as a ski patroller in the Sierras, slicing up and down the steep slopes of Squaw and Alpine watching over visitors.
Hill has never had any artistic training, and in a way she says, that’s the point. “I’ve always done art for personal pleasure, and have never charged for my work. It’s fun just to be creative and not have any other expectations or pressures. What I like is to have something that affirms what we’ve been through. It gives us all a better sense of community.”
Her glassy mosaic Out of Bounds is destined for the home of her son Jason, who is an emergency room physician in Truckee, California.
To Exedra readers: what project did you take on or what did you create during your COVID lockdown? No project is too small. Write us at email@example.com and let us know. We may feature your work in a future edition of the Exedra.