It all began when Tyson Weiss took a pottery class at Unity College back in 1998. His teacher required the class to keep a notebook of ideas. Weiss still has his notebook, filled with scribbles and photos and sketches, including some rough initial illustrations of his fish. When the semester ended, Weiss started a landscaping business.
"I saw the junk that people would put in their gardens up in the Midcoast Maine area," he said.
There were cheap garden gnomes and reflective balls, and at the other extreme, custom sculptures that probably cost the homeowners thousands of dollars.
"Both had that same issue of context," Weiss said. "It just didn't make sense. You can landscape around it to make something fit, but still it just always looked so random to me."
That's when he began to develop his fish with the curving tails and to think about "the flow."
It took about five years after Weiss drew his initial sketches before he could "see" the fish and the flow. It was, he said, like hearing a tune in your head and being unable to just sit down at the piano and play it.
"I had the vision, but I'd sit down and put my hands on the clay, and I'd be so discouraged," he recalled. "It would be a disaster."
Ten years after the notebook, things finally started to come together.
The ceramic fish are made from sturdy stoneware clay and fired to around 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, a process that makes them able to withstand Maine's below-zero winter temperatures.
It takes two weeks to make a fish, and Weiss' studio, which is attached to his house, is filled with the tools he needs to bring them to life.