Noe Valley Voice December 2012

Waterfall City at Our Feet

Words and Images by Beverly Tharp



Do People Walk on That?

Dan Gamaldi has been creating and showing works of art at his shop Cradle of the Sun on 24th Street for nearly 36 years. Now, neighborhood admirers can stroll by one of his masterpieces any time of day or night.

Dan Gamaldi, owner of Cradle of the Sun, has created a stained-glass mosaic called “Waterfall City” and placed it on the tile floor at the entrance to his store at 3848 24th St. The complex work, which has an estimated 5,500 pieces of colored glass, is based on a painting by James Gurney, author and illustrator of the Dinotopia book series. (The stained-glass work was done with Gurney’s permission.) It shows an imaginary city with waterfalls running throughout.

In 2008, Gamaldi began working on the project in his spare time, when he wasn't teaching classes or taking care of customers or working on commissions. He said it was taking so long he began to worry about dying before he finished the piece! So in early 2012, he devoted full time to the work, and on Oct. 21 he installed the piece, with help from his students. “Thank goodness it’s done and the installation went according to plan.”

The project was built in the shop on plywood, which was covered in aluminum foil. Individual pieces of glass were glued to the foil. Upon completion, the work was set in place and the plywood slid out from under the foil. Epoxy was used to glue the stained glass onto the tile floor outside the door of the shop.

On a recent morning, the air was filled with boogie-woogie music streaming from the San Francisco Public Library as Gamaldi opened the doors of Cradle of the Sun, a fixture in Noe Valley for almost 36 years. Students come and go, creating curved lampshades and other intricate projects. “We have birthday, holiday, election parties, any excuse we can think of to have a party,” says Gamaldi. At the first party in February 1977, the grand opening was interrupted when a customer came by with a $40 repair, Gamaldi’s first job.

In the early 1970s, Gamaldi apprenticed to a master glass artisan from Latvia, who was ready to retire and pass on his secrets. Then the younger artist returned to Noe Valley and has been here ever since, creating beautiful works.