Interview with Jeffery Shirley
of Jeffery Shirley Designs
Jeffery Shirley took us on a long tour of his amazing artwork, which features not only paintings in many media, but also journals, period costumes, and sculpture.
TYG: What kinds of graphic design do you do?
Jeffery: All kinds. I’ve been in printing for 30 years, so I’ve done everything from billboards to yellow pages. […]
TYG: Where did you get the idea to do graphic design work?
Jeffery: I started in printing back in the days when it was all done by hand on film. As computers came along, they gradually took over that industry. I started
studying early, and made the switch!
TYG: When did you start doing graphic design work?
Jeffery: I started about ‘91-’92—that’s when Photoshop was first out on the market, I think. Before that, the only computer that did that type of stuff was
called the Scitech Digital Imaging system, and it cost 6 million dollars. It came from Israel. Then Macintosh came along with desktop publishing…
TYG: Six. Million. Dollars.
Jeffery: Yes. And the Macintoshes were about $3,000.00, so it changed everything. […] The company I was working for had just bought one [of
the six million dollar machines], and they’d only had it a year when the Mac came out, and they hadn’t even begun to pay it off yet.
TYG: Oh no! So they just sold it?
Jeffery: Yes. They had to hire people from Israel to come out and teach us how to use it.
TYG: I’m guessing everything was in the Israeli language?
Jeffery: Well, they all spoke English…
TYG: Here’s what I mean: the computer, the operating
Jeffery: I have no idea. That’s back in the days when instead of CD’s, everything was on tape, a big reel about 18-20” across. If you see old science fiction
movies, you’ll see them in there.
TYG-Graphic Design: My Dad used to sell mainframes like that.
Jeffery: This thing filled up a room probably twice the size of this space.
TYG: That’s still not that bad for the old, old computers.
TYG-GD: Yes, but they didn’t do as much as a personal computer does now!
Jeffery: Yeah, your cell-phone probably does more than those did back then! [laughter]
TYG: Yes. But the old computers didn’t do as much as the Apollo computer, which wasn’t that big I don’t believe. And like they said on the show, a cell-phone can do more than that!
Jeffery: I met the guy who wrote the program that landed the lunar module.
TYG: Oh my gosh!
Jeffery: He said he was a little disappointed because they were off by 11 inches! [laughter] I’m thinking hitting a target that far away and only being 11 inches
is pretty good!
TYG: Why did you choose to live in Yachats?
Jeffery: My wife [Zeora Sage] discovered it! She
helped a friend move to Washington, and when she
came back she said: “You’ve got to see this place, Yachats!”
We came here and fell in love with it! Somebody
pointed out that Yachats looks a lot like the
background of my cloak woman painting—I’d been
painting it before I got here! […]
TYG-GD: Where were you living before?
Jeffery: Southern California, down near Disneyland.
TYG: That must have been fun for your kids!
Jeffery: Don’t have kids! These are our kids [points
at a cat—they have 3]. We got them here though. We
got married when we moved here. We moved up here,
bought the house, got married in the back yard, and
did everything at once!
TYG: Aw, how lovely! How is business going with
Jeffery: Better than I expected! A lot of people that
I did work for at Lazerquick looked me up. I guess
not a lot of people are doing Illustrator, or some of
the Photoshop work… I used to do a lot of photo-retouching
and special effects. So that’s been good. And
I do menus, like Nana’s Irish Pub there, and menus
for Café Mundo and Savory Café … […]
TYG: What kind of painting do you do?
Jeffery: Mixed media and oil. Mixed media is like
the cloaked woman: the face was done in pencil and
chalk, and the cloak was done in charcoal.
TYG: Like this one?
Jeffery: This one is all oil.
TYG: Huh! […] If you were trying to imitate a
leather coat there, that really worked.
Jeffery: Thanks! Mostly I wanted to see if I could
TYG-GD: Yes, I was just looking at that! I was going
to ask you how long that took…
Jeffery: The photo I worked from for the girl’s
face… When I’m looking for ideas I’ll go online
and just start looking at old pictures until something
jumps out at me. It was a picture of a girl from World
War II crossing a street in France, and she looked
over her shoulder as she was stepping out and I just
liked the angle.
TYG: But how long did it take you to paint?
Jeffery: Ohh, probably two or three months. […] All
this stuff takes a lot of time!
TYG: Where do you get your ideas for fantasy paintings,
like the Elf Queen painting?
Jeffery: The Elf Queen was a commission for a book
cover: the author sent me a chapter from her book
that described what the characters looked like. That’s
what the face looked like: the ears are pointed and
high up on the head, and [she has] a really long
jaw. And I just kind of took it from there. She didn’t
describe where they were, so I looked for pictures,
and ended up working with a picture of the Isle of
Man. […] And I wanted to distort the figure a little
bit, so I stretched her out—long arms and legs.
TYG-GD: Why did you want to distort?
Jefferey: She [the author] just described “long and
graceful.” So I just interpreted that.
TYG: I see! Thanks so much!
Jeffery: You’re welcome!
Interview with Zeora Sage
of Gentle Dragon Massage
TYG: Where are you from?
Zeora: California—covered the state pretty well.
Mostly Southern [CA], but as a kid I lived in Northern
California. […] We moved from Orange County.
[…] That’s the hardest part about moving up here—
my parents are getting older, and they live in Santa
Barbara—it’s not that far—it can be done in a day, but
it’s a long day.
TYG: Where is Santa Barbara?
Zeora: It’s about two hours north of Los Angeles, just
TYG-Graphic Design: I’m not real familiar with the
area, though Eddie and I did drive up along the coast
one time. I think Eddie did something at Esalen at
TYG: What is Esalen?
Zeora: It’s a retreat center.
TYG: A what center?
Zeora: Retreat. Where people go for healing workshops,
lots of massage, learning, and art—they do a
lot of permaculture [the development of agricultural
ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient]
TYG: What exactly is the art of massage?
Zeora: Basically, it’s a healing that’s hands-on, working
with soft tissue of the body, which is…
TYG: You know, skin, muscles…
Zeora: …fascia, tendons…
TYG: And bones?
Zeora: I don’t work with the bones so much, but it is
TYG: It is all connected, but bones are in no way soft.
Zeora: No. A chiropractor deals with bones.
TYG: A bone has a hard shell, but then I think it gets
really soft on the inside.
TYG-Graphic Design: Bone marrow?
TYG: Yeah, the bone marrow is perfectly edible.
Zeora: [laughter] I’ve never tried it!
TYG: I’m not kidding! A lot of our early ancestors—
well, not even so distant—ate bone marrow!
Zeora: I think there are probably people who still
TYG-GD: But not human bones! [laughter] […]
Zeora: There are a lot of different types of massage…
TYG: Can I define my question a little bit? What type
of massage do you do?
Zeora: […] I’ve been doing massage for about 10
years, and I have a lot of different training. I guess
what I consider to be my specialty would be is that
I really try to customize every massage for who I’m
working with. So I use a lot of different types of
massage in each session, and I don’t always know
what I’m going to use until I’m done.
TYG: I see. You’re deciding what you’re going to use
right there on the spot.
Zeora: Yes. I listen to my clients speak, but then I
also listen to their bodies a lot. And their bodies tell
me what they need, so I’m intuitively guided. Do you
know what that means?
TYG: No! How does the body tell you what it needs?
Zeora: I know! The more I do it, the more I tune
in. You’ve probably experienced it with your own
body—our bodies talk to us all the time, and they’ll
tell us if something hurts, it’s telling you something’s
TYG: Right, that’s obvious.
Zeora: Right! But there’s more subtlety: it will tell
you when you’re hungry, it tells you when you’re
tired. Also, [it will tell you] emotions through the
body as well.
TYG: I didn’t know that! I thought emotions were
Zeora: No… in fact, every cell in our body retains
memory, and emotion lives in the body memory.
TYG: It’s weird! You don’t think of the cell here
[points to the tip of his finger] as memory storage.
Zeora: Right—but it does. And that’s actually why
often there’s pain in body parts. It’s telling us that
there’s something that hasn’t been processed—do you
know what that means?
TYG: No, not really…
Zeora: Say that you had a traumatic experience in
your life. A lot of times we’ll have a traumatic experience,
but we’re too busy to …
TYG: Comprehend it in full. And you put the emotions
away, in the back of your mind.
Zeora: Exactly. We shove it back… “I don’t want to
deal with it,” or “I don’t have time to deal with it,”
or “I’d rather not.”
TYG: Although probably “I’d rather not” is much
Zeora: And of course it depends on what it is, and
who the person is. But we end up holding a lot of
that in our bodies. So part of massage is actually allowing
the person to relieve those old, stored emotions,
traumas—both the physical pain of them, and
the emotional relief as well. Those are all tied together.
[…] There might be a lot of sadness, or grief—it
depends on what the situation is. All kind of emotions
could happen with that. And so they’re stored in your
body as memories.
TYG: That’s amazing!
Zeora: I know, isn’t it? It’s fascinating work. It’s not
like psychology—I help them release it on a different
level. They’re complementary [disciplines]: I’ve
worked with people going through serious times in
their life, and they’re working with a psychologist
and having body-work—it helps as well. I’ve seen
people just for grief, and then it’s a whole different
type of session, because they’re really just trying to
process this horrible event in their life, so it’s a very
nurturing, gentle session.
TYG: Dental session?
Zeora: [lots of laughter all around] Gentle! [pause]
So yes, I do a lot of types of massage. I blend a lot of
deep tissue techniques: Swedish, reflexology, aromatherapy;
I went to Thailand and studied Thai massage.
It’s done very differently: it’s done on a mat, on the
floor—it’s kind of like assisted yoga. So I never got
all the equipment to do that, but I still do some of the
stretches. I still have that knowledge, so I can incorporate
it into some of the table.
TYG: What do you do here?
Zeora: Do you want to see my massage room? [We
go on a mini-tour.] I have tried to create a very healing,
soothing, nurturing environment; someplace safe,
warm, and comfortable, with Nature’s serenity; a little
cocoon to keep people safe; peace and love… […] I
have all my lotions and potions and healing brews…
TYG-GD: I know obviously that you’ve had your
massage business in a couple of different places in
Zeora: I have! The Gentle Dragon is celebrating its
third anniversary—its third birthday!—on May 1st.
All three of my locations have been wonderful. The
first one was by Touchstone and The Wave, back in
the courtyard, the little space there—I was there for
the first year. Then I moved North of here, about a
mile, to a building that we put a lot of renovation into
so that we could have a gallery for Jeffery’s artwork
[Jeffery Shirley is Zeora’s husband], and other local
artists, and a little more space for workshops and
things. And then I decided that it was just too soon to
try to take on that much all by myself. I really
to simplify. I was trying to run a gallery, and work 7
days a week doing massage.
TYG-GD: Do you do massage 7 days a week?
Zeora: I do, yes. Not always. I have a very erratic
and hard-to-predict schedule, which would not suit
a lot of people, but it suits me. I know my boss well
[laughter] so I have some power over blocking
out time. I don’t have the luxury to block out large
amounts of time yet—I do need a steady income. It’s
more of an “on call”—I’m available on call. I try to
guide people to where I’d like them, but that doesn’t
always work. [laughter] […]
TYG: Thank you very much! Is there anything else
you want to add?
Zeora: I would! I mentioned my 3-year anniversary…
I have a couple of things going on. For my anniversary—
the last 2 years, I had big events. I had a Grand
Opening at my first place, I had a Grand Opening at
my second place, with lots of music, and workshops,
and fun things.—I’m not going to have a big event
here, but I’m still going to have a raffle. I’m going to
have a drawing at the end of the month [of May]. 10%
of the proceeds are going to go to YYFAP [Yachats
Youth & Family Program], and the rest of the proceeds
are going to go to expanding the Gentle Dragon.
Because eventually, we’re going to have a private
entrance, a private bathroom, and connect it to the
hot tub, and enclose this deck out here for workshop
space and healing gatherings.
TYG: Wow! What is a workshop?
Zeora: […] Well, there are healing workshops for personal
growth, healing techniques. And we’ll do some
landscaping, have some little meditation spots and
things—that’s the plan. So the whole month of May,
how I’m going to do it is every purchase during the
month of May—every ten dollars spent—will get a
raffle ticket, and then if people just want raffle tickets
they can purchase them $5 each, or 5 for $20. I’m
going to get some prizes—I’ve already started talking
to merchants in town. I know the Drift Inn has already
said “Yes, we’ll give a gift certificate.” I’m sure I’ll
get other people in town to give some great prizes,
and there will of course be massage prizes.
And then the other thing of course for May is Mother’s
Day! Mother’s Day is always popular for massage,
so I’ve got a couple of specials. I’ve got my
“Queen for a Day” package…
TYG: What does that mean?
Zeora: It’s a 90-minute massage and a 30-minute
TYG: What is “Mini-Bliss”?
Zeora: Mini-Bliss is a foot treatment. You sit in a
comfy chair, and you get a heated neck-wrap around
your shoulders. Then you get reflexology, which is
hands, feet, and ears, and a little bit of scalp massage.
[Lots of wows on the TYG staff’s part.] And you get
chocolate and tea. [More ooh’s and aah’s.] Which are
things I offer already, but I don’t usually call them
“Queen for a Day.” There’s a little discount on the
TYG-GD: For all that?
Zeora: Yep! 90-minute massage is normally $95, and
mini-bliss is normally $45.
TYG: So there’s a significant discount!
Zeora: And then of course I’ve got Gift Certificates
and Gift Baskets as well—which are available any
time. I like doing fun little custom baskets with healing
products, gift certificates, and personalizing them.
[…] You probably remember Abundant Naturals,
unfortunately closed? I’m good friends with Heather,
and I’ve always carried her products. I’m low on
them right now, but they will be back—in abundance!
And I have Cat’s Creek, and Earth’s Healing Remedies.
TYG: Wow, thank you so much.
Zeora: Thank you, Allen!
Interview with Jim Adler
The Yachats Gazette spoke with Jim Adler, the creator
of the whale sculpture in the Whale Park in Yachats.
This is the second part of a two-part interview.
Jim: And the only way that I could think of doing that
[creating a sense of awe with his whale sculpture]
was to have that spout … explosive. Like, when I
first talked about it, it was like… a garden sprinkler.
Which would make it look—stupid. It would just look
like, like this stupid little spout. But when I started
thinking of turning it into a high-pressure spout,
which would make this… explosive mist—that actually
sounded more like what I was trying to depict.
Which was this HUGE creature. This incredibly
POWERFUL thing. With lungs the size of Volkswagens.
That could propel this mist into the air. And I
thought, okay, I can do that. So I changed the sculpture.
TYG: I see.
Jim: And one of the most fun things about that, is
that I made a little maquette, a little model, of the
whole thing, because I had to pass it before the City
Council. They had to approve it, because it was their
park. So I made this little boxed tiny replica of what
it was going to look like, and I put a spout into it. And
I had it on the table, and when they were all leaning
over and looking at it, I pushed the bulb and sprayed
them. [laughter] …And we had, what, four meetings?
where the public could say how they felt about it. …
And I got a lot of comments.
TYG: Good or bad?
TYG: What were some of the good and bad comments?
Jim: Well… there were people who were trying to
be helpful… [for example] by saying that it looked
a lot like an airplane, and that I should put red and
green lights on either side… and there was a person
who thought that it looked dangerous, because it was
so big and so solid that if somebody missed the turn
there and drove into the park, shouldn’t I make it on a
hinge so that it would be knocked over rather than kill
TYG: That kind of seems like a reasonable idea.
Jim: It seemed reasonable to me, until I asked, how
many people usually drive through the park?
Jim: Yeah… and if they didn’t hit the whale sculpture,
they’d hit the wall, which would probably do at
least as much damage as the whale sculpture. […] But
I had a lot of those kind of comments—people interested
in the design […] And finally the City Council
said that I was to be given permission to place it in
the park… that the City Council was not going to give
any city money toward it… and that ownership was to
be left to the committee which was going to raise the
funds to put it in.
TYG: How much did it actually cost to put it in?
Jim: Twelve thousand dollars.
TYG: Wow! Why so much?
Jim: Actually, that’s very cheap.
Jim: Well, for one thing, this was 1991, so it was a
while ago. Sculptures generally cost, oh, anywhere
from $100,000 to $300,000 to a million. Sculptors
make art, and they don’t do it that often. You don’t
sell them every other day. It’s something that you
could work on for a year, and you wouldn’t get a
chance to sell something like that but maybe once
every five years.
TYG: So who actually made it?
Jim: It was a number of people. I made the design. I
took the design over to Farwest Steel in Eugene. They
had a computerized flame cutter, where they could
lay a sheet down and then run a computer program
into their cutter and cut it out automatically. They cut
out both of the wings, the flukes, where there are two
separate pieces. And then they took it to a place that
does shot treating—they put into a big vat with steel
shot, steel ball bearings—and they agitated it long
enough to get all the scale of off it and clean it up.
TYG: What is the scale?
Jim: When you make steel, the outer surface actually
burns. Fresh steel is gray, it’s got a gray surface on
it—that’s actually an oxidized surface, where the hot
steel comes into contact with oxygen. It forms a protective
layer of its own. […] When you take that off,
steel is bright, it’s like silverware. And you have to
get that off in order to treat it or to have it corrosionproofed.
And they did it here by agitating it in steel
shot.… It’s a special steel, too. You’ll notice that it’s rusty,
but it doesn’t rust through. And the reason is that it
is an alloy of copper. The steel molecule itself is a
chain… the copper is added to the content of the steel
while it is being milled… The copper actually forms
one of the molecules on that steel chain. And when
steel rusts… [the rust] will go down that chain until
it hits that carbon molecule and then it will stop unless
it’s abraded off. So that rust you’re seeing, on the
outside of the whale tail, is actually a protective layer,
which is protecting each of the little carbon molecules,
which is stopping that rust from penetrating
through. [Discussion of metallurgy edited extensively]
TYG: Got it.
Jim: It’s called COR-TEN steel; it was developed by
U.S. Steel in the late fifties, and it was meant to be
used for bridges and things that […] They didn’t want
to have to maintain things by protecting the outer surface,
by painting and plating and things like that….
They hoped to create a steel which they could just
allow to rust, and which they’d never have to paint.
TYG: Why would you not want to paint it?
Jim: It’s a lot of work, and it requires constant maintenance.
TYG: But… if you like your bridge to have any kind of
looks, then paint it.
Jim: Well… if you don’t mind it looking rusty—uniformly
rusty—then it could be a very cool-looking bridge.
TYG: But at least it would be uniformly rusty, which
is very different.
Jim: That’s right. It would be like the whale. And
hopefully, that rust wouldn’t penetrate to the point at
which it would cause structural problems. So that’s
what I made the whale out of—so that it wouldn’t
have to be painted. So far it’s worked.
Jim: I had another piece, up on the coast, up at Smelt
Sands, that [was sold to me] as COR-TEN […] and I
only found out later that it wasn’t COR-TEN, and it
rusted away. I also found out that the mill which sold
it to me had sold Lane County the same material, as
a bridge. And I have no idea where that bridge is, but
it’s in trouble.
TYG - E.A.: So what happened after the shot treatment?
Jim: Then I finished the edges and rounded them off,
by hand, and then I took those cut-out pieces up to a
rolling and shaping mill, in Portland, called Marks
Brothers. [They were all] very nice people […] we
bought the steel; Farwest offered to cut it out for
nothing; they shot-peened it for nothing; they transported
it up to Marks Brothers in Portland for nothing;
Marks Brothers bent it according to my specifications
for nothing, welded it up for nothing; and then
Rod Smith went up with his truck and he brought it
back down here…
TYG: For nothing.
Jim: Right. … And he said it was a lot of fun, because
it was standing up on the back of his truck, and as
he was driving along the freeway people were seeing
this whale tail in the back of a truck, and they were
all pointing at it. [laughter] And we waited at the
park, with a man who owned a logging crane. He had
a sawmill up the river. His name was Lee Green, and
he used to be the postmaster here, and when he retired
he opened a sawmill up the river. And he had this old,
beat-up, 1940 military truck that he converted into a
crane. He and I were waiting in the park all day, for
Rod Smith and the whale tail to show up, not knowing
that Rod Smith had blown a tire, and was stuck
somewhere between here and Portland, fixing his tire.
But he came down the next day, and we picked it up
with that logging crane, and put it in the park.
TYG: That’s the end of the story?
Jim: Well, we poured a lot of concrete around the
bottom of it, and then we had to put the spout in, and
then shape the park, with the whale under it, which
meant we had to bring in, I think, five truckloads of
soil, and then we bought turf…. And then we turned
on the spout, and amazingly enough, it worked. And
then we had a little ceremony. I put a little plaque
in, and the plaque is still there, but you can’t see it,
because it’s buried in the grass.
TYG EA: What’s under the hump?
Jim: Dirt. Just dirt, packed. Actually, it was considerably
higher when I laid it, and it’s compacted over the
TYG EA: So how did you get into working with metal?
Jim: I had traveled to England in ‘69, and had worked
with a sculptor, in the Cotswolds, and lived over there
for a little over a year… and I had worked in that studio,
and then come back here to finish my doctorate,
at the University of Washington…. And after having
done that, Ursula and I had moved in together… and I
realized I didn’t want to teach.
TYG EA: What was your degree in?
Jim: English and Comparative Lit. And so we… took
back off and I went back to England, to work with
these guys again. And after having worked with them
for about six months or so, we had to make a tool, in
order to remove some railings that we were going to
be restoring. And one of the guys in the studio got
out a forge! And started forging this tool! I had never
seen it done. I was fascinated. And I said, “Teach me
how to do this.” So the guy took like three or four
days and taught me everything that he had learned
in art school about blacksmithing. And I thought, “I
gotta do this. And I gotta find somebody who can
teach me.” And there were no blacksmiths left—this
is an ancient art, and it had yet to revive.
TYG: What does that mean? When did it revive?
Jim: Just after I learned [chuckles], in probably the
early 1980s, people started getting interested in it, and
started learning how to do blacksmithing. This was
part of the big craft revival—remember the hippies?
TYG: No. I wasn’t around until 2003.
Jim: Remember hearing about the hippies? These
people went back to making things by hand.
And blacksmithing was part of that. And I had
to find somebody who I could apprentice to.
And Ursula and I traveled all over England
and Scotland and Wales, looking for somebody,
and I couldn’t find anybody, because
they had now had become “agricultural support
welders.” And there was only one real
blacksmith that I knew about, and he was part
of our guild—I was a member of a sculptor’s
guild—and I was told not to bother talking to
him because he was a very cranky old man.
But he was a thirteenth-generation smith…
Jim: … And his father had been the chief smith for
the William Morris shops—William Morris was the
founder of the craftsman’s movement. […] And I
decided that if I was going to learn it from anybody, I
gotta go talk to this fellow. So I went down and talked
to him. And he turned out to be a really, really nice
guy. I liked him a lot. And I spent a year with him,
learning how to do this. And then I came back here,
and started doing it.
TYG EA: Are you doing any work like that these
Jim: Sure. I do commission work.
TYG EA: What are you working on?
Jim: Well right now, nothing. I have a pending design
in for some architectural work in Portland. Which is
where most of my work is. And I’m trying to re-do
my shop—I’ve been doing large-scale stuff for the
whole time I’ve been doing architectural work, doing
railings and stairways and things like that. I want to
get back to doing smaller stuff, much hotter. When
you get steel white-hot, it splashes. You are working
at the point of—it’s called the eutectic—the point of
liquidity, the point at which steel starts to collapse.
And you can get some unbelievable shapes out of it.
And that’s where I want to get back to working with