SANDCASTLE LANDS MAGAZINE
Presents
An Artist From Rockfall

Jason, the piper, at Wadsworth Falls in Winter
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The sounds of Scotland are heard, now and then, from the pipes of Jason Ruffino, down from "the Cape" visiting the family in Rockfall. Not far from the cascading waters of Wadsworth Falls, in the former shadow of ancient mills along the river, is the home of Jason's uncle and one of Rockfall's most interesting artists.

To find Bill Ruffino you just follow Route 157 from Middletown to Rockfall, which is midway between Middletown and Middlefield, and right after the Citgo station, which is the turn off for Wadsworth Falls. Half a mile further, along route 157, you'll find a modest sign on the right that states: "Bill's Work of Art."

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Billy and Jimmy working in the shop

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One often hears the sounds of a jigsaw buzzing from the small workshop cottage at the edge of the woods in back of the Ruffino homestead.  Inside the shop Bill Ruffino is at work repairing the model airplane of his nephew Jimmy Priest. Then it's time for a test flight and Jimmy steps outside, winds the rubberband engine and launches the plane into the air.

A shout of exhileration goes up from Bill, "Looks great," he shouts, "like a soaring bird." After a few more flights  the plane taxis in for a landing. "Come on inside Jimmy," says Bill, "I'll show you how to use the jigsaw."

Jimmy experiments, using the fine-bladed saw to cut patterns into the strip of wood. Bill inspects the work when he's finished. "Not bad," he says, "not bad at all for a start."

There is a knock at the door and two heads peer into the building. Bill looks up to see Rob LeBlanc and a friend. "Hello," says Rob, "I brought my friend Simmy over to see some of your work, that is if you're not too busy."

"No, come in," smiles Bill, "We were just about finished in here anyway. Jimmy's just waiting for his cousin Jason to come in from the cape. They should be here pretty soon."

While Bill puts his tools away they go toward the main house. On the way up the front steps Great-grandfather Ruffino, a hardy looking man, tan and healty from his work in the fields, greets them with an armful of corn and some local peaches. "Take these with you when you leave," he smiles.

Inside the house they are cordially greeted by Mother/grandmother/great-grandmother Ruffino. "Come on in," she says, opening the door in warm greeting.

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Just inside the front door, standing tall in the living room is a grandfather clock that Bill designed and put together. "Wow!" exclaims Simmy, "That's a beautiful piece of work."

Rob nods his head in appreciation of the clock. "I thought you'd like it," he replies.


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"There's more in his bedroom, that's also his gallery too," replies Mother Ruffino. Meanwhile Bill has come in through the back entrance and is waiting for them in the bedroom-gallery.

Simmy looks at a clock, similar in some ways to the one in the living room, but of a more oriental design.  "It's on a revolving pedestal," says Bill, who with a movement of his wrist, rotates the clock 180 degrees so that the other side can be seen.

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"I'm doing a lot of animals now," says Bill, "dogs mostly. I've got several commissions. And there's the unicorn music box on the table there. Look, it has a built in night light."

"Beautiful work," says Simmy.
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"Thanks," replies Bill, "I just finished this collie's head, up there." He points to a collection of dog's head's he has constructed over the years. "The collie took me a long time," he said, "Look at the different woods, the grains, and patterns in the wood."

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"Over there on the headboard are my huskies. Each one takes a lot of hours to build. I started with a single pattern but then I wanted to see what different color combinations I could come up with. Those huskies keep watch over the house at night, kind of."

"What's that mask for on the bedpost?" asks Simmy.

"Oh, he keeps the kids from bothering the huskies."
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Over the next twenty minutes Bill gives a running history to the two men of the works he has constructed, those he has sold and those he has stored away. Every piece he has ever made is like one of his children. He knows and remembers each one, and talks of them as a parent might of their kids.
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Billy, as his family calls him, pulls out some drawings and layout plans for projects he has in the works. "That's a python," says Jimmy pointing to the snake twisting around a tree branch, "I like that one." There are other plans too, a pack of wild wolves running free, clowns and other works, many of them merely ideas, at the present time swirling around in his mind. "I don't know where he's going to get time to do them all," says Great-grandmother Ruffino.
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Simmy at Wadsworth Falls
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"Thanks for the tour Bill," says Rob. "We're off now as Simmy's getting ready for school. He's a music teacher, you know, over in Waterbury."

Bill nods his head, "Glad you came to visit," he says. "Jimmy, you show the guys out, will you?"

They thank Great-grandmother Ruffino and Great-grandfather Ruffino for the gifts on their way to the pickup.
The two men drive the short distance down the road to Wadsworth Falls where they plan to sit and digest their sandwiches, bought earlier from Neon Deli in Middletown.

"That fellow is incredible," said Simmy, "He's truly an inspiration. I need to go back there to look again sometime."

"I'm sure you'd be welcome," says Rob.

They sat there at the base of Wadsworth Falls to sit and discuss Bill's works of art while eating. At the same time they could watch that powerful mass of water cascade down the falls, each drop a clock-tick of its own from the greatest clockmaker in the Universe.
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One of Bill's smaller, more whimsical pieces.

Starting a new work

Recently carved python

From the Dragon Collection


Another Dragon

The Workshop

The Shingle . . .


BILL'S WORKS OF ART -CUSTOM WOODWORKING
William C. Ruffino
273 Main St.
Rockfall, Ct. 06481-2008

Telephone: 860-349-9836



Published by the Gronicus Press 2000

Copyright Robert J. White -- August 23, 2000

Internet Site: http://www.wesleyan.edu/av/gronican.htm.


With thanks to Bill Ruffino, Jimmy Priest, Mrs. Ruffino, Jason Ruffino and family and to Mr. Ruffino for his gracious hospitality and the wonderful basket of corn and peaches that he gave us. And thanks to Simmy for the assist.

R.J. White editor SandCastle Lands      E-MAIL:     rwhite@wesleyan.edu

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