Stupa of Enlightenment, Gampo Abbey, Summer of 2019

The question was, would the hurricane Dorian diminish before arriving at Cape Breton? Garry Ryan construction volunteer from Newfoundland watched the storm online, crawl up the Eastern Seaboard of the USA and Canada in September. How would this impact the safety of the new gold leaf work being done on the stupa?

In a precautionary move the scaffolding surrounding the stupa for the gold leaf project was dismantled before the storm traveled over Cape Breton where it would cause widespread power outages for several days.

But the season for outside work was close to its end. Les St. Marie, Project Steward had been hard at work finding skilled workers and materials since March 2019 was confronted with a major problem. The storm had taken a week out of the good weather and had disrupted the schedule of the master gold leaf-er or gilder. The project fell to the apprentice Garry.

Intensive phone consultations, reading and scrutiny of Youtube offerings on gold leafing gave Garry much practical knowledge. At one micron thick gold leaf has its own set of conditions you must pay attention to. This would be the moment of truth for Garry with a new skill and Les with 6 months of seeking quality workers. Would Garry be able to feel out the materials well enough to brave the critical threshold?

Scrapping of old paint on the rings had began earlier. Garry had filled the rough spots in the concrete and sanded it very smooth. This on the job training included the setbacks of “who said what?” or “no one told me.” Some sections had to be refilled and the re-sanded.

Before working with the real gold Garry had conducted tests and trials with some faux gold on picture frames. We have a gold plated sledge hammer in the workshop.

Happily the main body of the real task was flat regular surfaces and more familiarization could be gained without too much risk or too many anxiety filled work days.

The very fiddly lacy crown could now be done with some assurance and skill. The final touch of the Sun and Moon that caps the structure was gilded and installed.

The Celtic Colours settled on Cape Breton and the hope to repaint the body of the stupa would have to wait until the next season. Down came the scaffolding and up went the praise for Garry for developing a new skill for the benefit of all.