The Collector

by Gregory Punshon

Peter was an avid collector.

Looking at his collections you would think they had nothing in common – grapefruit spoons, glass, artworks, gemstones, etc.

But they did.

They were examples of the most beautiful things, the most interesting things, and the most ugly things.

He had some of the most exquisite things I have ever seen; he showed me examples of craftsmanship that left me wondering how they could be built by hand, and he had some truly-hideously-ugly “things” that you could not help but look at.

Peter had many collections.

He had collections of collections.

I wise man once told me of Peter’s other collection.

People.

Peter collected people all his life, his relationships were his greatest treasure.

So Peter has left us all with a puzzle; as members of his greatest collection we have to wonder if we are a beautiful thing, an interesting thing … or a truly-hideously-ugly thing.

But there is one thing we don’t have to wonder about, and that is what Peter felt for us, and that is Love.

Gregory

Stories of Peter Lupinski

Collected by Gary Armstrong

Peter Lupinski was born with his twin brother Rudi in the country town of Cessnock N.S.W. Australia. He was a complicated person and would do things to get a reaction from people. But he was also an innocent, not knowing what some of his actions could do or imply. He was a kind soul who was always helping others and a collector of many things, including people. It would distress him when people moved on and lost contact.

When they were young, Peter and Rudy liked to play with fireworks. They started making their own crackers with gun powder until they found something more powerful. They made a “bunger” with this stuff and put it in a house brick out the front of their house, lit it and ran to the front door to watch. The brick was shattered into many pieces, some landing in yards two blocks away. The entire street came running out to see what had happened as everyone’s house was shaking from the bang. Peter and Rudy thought the bang was cool.

Peter did his apprenticeship as a Dental Technician in Canberra, but was always home sick. Every Friday night, he would make the six hour trip home to Cessnock in his little Volkswagen Beatle and Sunday night return back to Canberra for work on Monday.

Peter was a self taught expert on most of his collections, like Antique glass Christmas ornaments from around the world, Solid silver cutlery etc, Antique mantel clocks, pocket watches, Art glass from most of the Australian Artist, etc. Once in his collection, he would never let go of it .Peter’s friends would be influenced and educated by his endless knowledge, but nobody other than Peter knew how many collections he really had!

Every week end for many years Peter would go around to all the Garage Sale to the point of having the incredible ability to sniff out the bargains. He could find the most beautiful things and the best prices, many thought that he was a professional dealer. But Peter would never sell anything, although he would often give things away to family and friends. But Peter could never leave a bargain behind, even if he had six of them at home, he would then have to smuggle them into the house without his mother noticing.

Living all his life in the same home, Peter made a commitment not to have his parents go into an old age home, and to his credit he did look after them until they passed. But Peter then made a prison for himself by not changing anything and keeping the house just as it was when all the family was there. He also would rarely ever go out any more.

Peter had a rash on his leg that would not go away, this made it uncomfortable to wear pants so he got himself a kilt. This led to Peter getting into the Scottish culture and then joining the NSW branch of the Gordon Clan (whose Australian clan chief also lived in Cessnock). He even took up playing the bagpipes. Peter was delighted by the confusion that would occur when he told people he was a representative of the Hungarian branch of the Gordon Clan! This interest got to be an obsession with him ordering a number of complete outfits directly from Scotland, but it helped Peter deal with his depression, ever since the passing of his parents.

When Peter and Gary were traveling around in the U.S.A. Peter was always the country boy and would like to talk to everyone and tell his life story to strangers we would meet on the street. Whether they were interested or not.

Gary had an invite to visit Lucasfilm, north of San Francisco and took Peter along with him. They also had access to the company’s warehouse of props and costumes. Peter being a big Indiana Jones fan had to try on Harrison Ford’s costume. Later he would mischievously tell people that he got into Harrison Ford’s pants. Gary would tell Peter not to say that, as it would give people the wrong impression. Peter would just give that elfish grin.

Driving around in L.A., Peter and Gary were lost, so they pulled up behind a police car and Peter walked up to ask for directions. On seeing Peter approach the cops panicked and wound up the windows, but as soon as Peter spoke they realised that we were just lost tourists.

Peter and Gary were walking through one of the casinos in Las Vegas, Gary was talking to Peter, but got no response from him. Gary turned around to find he had been talking to himself, no Peter to be seen. Peter had in fact heard some people that were talking in Hungarian, so he was following them to eavesdrop.
Later on, Peter and Gary were in another casino when Peter decided that he wanted to go to the camera shop across the road for some film. Gary waited in the casino for him and waited and waited. As the time went by Gary got more and more worried about what might have happened to Peter, thinking he had an accident or was he hurt. How was he going to explain this to Peter’s mum? Finally Peter strolled in with a smile on his face.. He had been outside watching a Pirate show on the street and was totally oblivious to the time that had elapsed.

Peter and Gary were staying in Peter’s caravan on a claim up at Lightning Ridge one time. They dressed daggy just like the locals unlike the large convoy of Gray Nomads that rolled into town soon afterwards. Thus Peter and Gary were treated as ‘residents’ which meant they were given special service and prices.
Peter liked to get a reaction from people. One time, dressed in his skin tight “pleasure slave” costume with a dog collar, he was lead down Oxford St on a leash by Carol Bott . Much to the hoots and hollers from the patrons at the pubs along the street.

Another time Peter and Colleen (both dressed in Peter’s latest costumes) went for a walk up and down George St, Sydney on a busy Saturday night, just to get a reaction from the crowds.

Peter had a steel trap of a memory and would file away any comment you might make and later find a gadget or something to help you out. But it was very hard to reimburse him the cost of the item (whether you wanted it or not) Gary used to slip the money into Peter’s pocket and run.

Peter was renowned for being a fantastic chef; he enjoyed cooking for others and many of those amazing dishes that he made were recipes from his mother.

And of course, Peter was also known as a “Master Builder”. Every Christmas he would turn out a housing estate worth of gingerbread houses that he’d make using a very old German recipe and then give them away to family and friends.

Every Easter the family would gather at the Lupinski house for the Easter Egg hunt. Peter would hide chocolate eggs all around his yard and if the weather was bad, put them in plastic bags because nobody wants a soggy chocolate egg. This annual event brought out the kid in us all.

Christmas was always a special time at the Lupinski house. Peter was one of the first to do the big front yard display and light show on their house. People would drive by each year to see the latest displays. Peter even invested in snow machines to give that extra magical touch. He would say many time, he would have loved to experienced a real white Christmas one day, but that never happened. Inside the house was also special, there would be multiple trees covered with glass ornaments, many of them real antiques and lit candles.

For many years Peter would decorate the windows of the local Vinnie’s shop for Christmas. He was very proud of the displays. Gary helped out on some of these displays. Some of the displays won awards for best Christmas window displays in Cessnock.

One Christmas, Peter offered to build a display for the local shopping centre. He asked Paul and Gary to help created a prop “Santa Claus Sleigh” for kids to sit in as a photo booth. After a couple of years they did not want it anymore and offered it to Peter. The sleigh wound up at the home of Gregory and Nancy, and was redressed with different themes each year (along with the backdrop) as the centre piece of the yearly themed Halloween party. It became the Flintstone’s car, a Time Machine and finally a steam punk vehicle. And of course a highlight of the evening was to have your photo taken sitting in the conveyance working the controls. Peter really enjoyed this and it was a way to let out his creativity.

Peter loved his little green car, he clocked up many miles in it but a mechanic once told him that he needed a new engine for the car. He just shrugged and said, “I know where there’s one lying in a paddock. I’ll use that.”  Who else would find a car engine (the correct car engine for his car) lying in a paddock?  He had it put into his car, and it worked…after some teething problems

Peter was very popular at the Science Fiction conventions and made many friends. He would turn up with a car load of new costumes to have frequent changes (sometimes every hour) for him and Colleen during the day. He was also known to make the odd costume to order for other fans using the skills he learned from his mother.
At one convention he rolled into the hotel with a trolley load of costumes. So many, they thought the costumes were for sale and tried to direct Peter into the Dealers room.

At a Canberra science fiction convention, fellow costumer Robert Jan, in his Roman Centurion costume was talking to a reporter  when Peter approached from behind and started lifting his leather skirt to examine the stitching. The reporter was horrified at this, but Robert just looked around and said “it’s OK, he’s another costumer” and went back to the conversation with the reporter.

When Gary was working on the TV show Farscape, Peter told him that he was a fan of the show, so Gary arranged for a visit the studio, to see all the sets. Peter even got to watch the filming of an episode. He was ecstatic with this experience and talked about it for ages.

While working for Opera Australia, Gary would frequently get free tickets to their latest shows at the Sydney Opera House, and would invite Peter along. Now this showed another side of Peter, who delighted in dressing up and being very fashionable and mixing it with the elite of Sydney’s society.

Peter, Henry and Gary were having lunch at the local shopping centre food hall. After the first bite of curry Peter exclaimed “It’s too hot” and then added “but the nice Indian lady said it was mild”. At which point his friends laughed and in unison chorused “the nice INDIAN lady” which then became a favourite catch phrase.
Peter designed and made the trophies for the ASFMA (Australian Science Fiction Media Awards) presented at annual national science fiction conventions. These awards were made from rectangular pieces of plate glass that are glued together to look like a set of transparent books aligned on a wooden base. But he would never have these trophies ready before the event and could be found in his hotel room trying to glue them together at the last moment. The glass was pre cut but the edges were still very sharp, so everyone knew when Peter had done the trophies as all his fingers had bandaids on them. Though greatly admired and coveted, many winners of these awards tell stories of trying to dust their trophies only to have their dusters – be they feather dusters or cloths –cut, sliced and diced into shreds by the sharp edges of the trophies. They were best displayed either in a glass or Perspex case for safety reasons, or on high shelves well away from prying fingers!

Developing a real appreciation for glass, Peter became an expert in Art Glass and was building up an incredibly large collection of local and overseas pieces. He also got to know most of the glass artists in Australia, visiting many of them in their studios, and created the web site “Peter Lupinski – glass with class” (http://blog.peterlupinski.com/) to promote the beauty of glass.

Being a keen amateur gardener, Peter had educated himself and could tell you the scientific name for every plant and how to best look after them.

Peter recently had a passion for photographing fungi after discovering an unusual one growing under his bedroom window. He made many trips into the bush to document them and created a blog to show off the beauty and the diversity of these wild fungi, especially mushrooms. He amassed a sizeable catalogue of photos, his passion for the subject possibly rivalling that of professionals in the field. It is possible that he may have found some undocumented mushrooms in his quest to photograph as many of them as possible.

Susan Batho on Peter for The Australian SF Foundation Newsletter and Web

Peter Lupinski – 1958 – 2017

I first met Peter Lupinski in 1984 at AussieTrek at the Menzies Hotel in Sydney. He was accompanied by his “clothes horse” as she described herself, Colleen Kennedy, later Boland. He had made their costumes – a selection of costumes for the weekend – and I was judging the costume parade with George Takei. That’s how we met and kept in contact – at first through costuming and convention attendance. Peter was a skilled costumer and creative, not satisfied with just copying costumes from tv and movies – although we all remember him and his whip and hat from Raiders of the Lost Ark. He created costumes for stories written, like Gael Williams Terra Nova series, and just things that appealed to his imagination at the time. This love of costuming followed him all his life as he participated on program panels and created convention items such as the Off World Fashion Show at Medtrek 4. In later years, when he discovered a real joy in photography, he would still get models to wear his newest creations and he would photograph them as a piece of art.

Peter wasn’t just a costumer, though, he was a true artisan, making amazing kaleidoscopes, and cut glass and white metal creations for his friends and for sale in shops in Cessnock. He created and built the Australian SF Media Awards based on his vision of the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz.

He would do window dressing for shop fronts in Cessnock when he wasn’t working full time as orthodontic technician. And in the meantime, always have time to chat to friends and attend conventions when he could. He would take long walks in the bushland around the Hunter Valley photographing mushrooms and fungi of all sorts and colours, sharing them on Facebook with his many friend. Last year, he marched with his adopted clan, the Gordons, at the Highland Games at Bundanoon. His kilt was his favourite possession and he wore it in the correct manner. 😉

The last convention he attended was last February for the Medtrek 33 1/3 Reunion and will be very sorely missed for Medtrek 6 in July.

He was a softly spoken gentleman, full of enthusiasm and creativity. A one-of-a-kind. And he left behind a legacy of amazing artwork and costumes and memories.

Pink and White Bowl by Art Gecko Glass

This small bowl  by Art Gecko Glass is created by slumping a piece of thick clear glass with the addition of some pink and white giving the bowl the appearance of  strawberry and cream floating on ice. Slumping is formed by placing sheet of glass onto a mould and placed in a kiln then fired at a temperature high enough to melt the glass sufficiently to slump but not pool in the bottom and then cooled down.

Pink and White Bowl by Art Gecko Glass
Pink and White Bowl by Art Gecko Glass

Red Perfume Bottle by Setsuko Ogishi

This stunningly beautiful perfume bottle with it’s clear red body and a violet collar is yet another fine example of the work done by renown glass artist Setsuko Ogishi.A feature of this piece is the ring of clear glass trapping a myriad of bubbles that sparkle like jewels in the sunlight plus the crowning glory is a crystal clear tear drop shaped stopper.

Red Perfume Bottle.
Red Perfume Bottle by Setsuko Ogishi.