Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ceramics Class-First Cylinder-2/18/09

Today was a good day in class. I actually threw one cylinder on the wheel. It has taken me about 10 hours to throw one good cylinder. I now just have nine more I need to turn in.

The cylinder that was good enough to keep was one of six that I threw during class. The other five just weren’t good enough because there was not a 90 degree angle in the bottom or I messed up the top of the cylinder and could not save it. I didn’t think Siggy would let me keep the cylinder because she wants us to cut the cylinder down the middle to see if there is a 90 degree angle.

Siggy even came over and said good job when I was done with the cylinder. At least she is seeing me trying and practicing at throwing. I thought this would be easy, but I think this is the hardest class I have taken, even drawing was easier than this. Who would have thought I would say that. But I think I am receiving more satisfaction from this class then I ever did in the drawing class.

You would not believe how many things you have to think of as you are trying to throw a cylinder. I told Siggy that I missed my metals and that this was hard.

You have to remember to keep your elbows dug into your side; have to remember which hand you have to use when inside the cylinder; you have to think about pulling up the sides of the cylinder, but while you are pulling up you have to push in toward the center of the wheel or the sides will be lopsided. You are exhausted when you are done.

I will have to take a picture of the cylinder and post it with this blog. I am just happy that I finally got one cylinder made after all the failures. As mom says it takes practice to get you to the point of making one cylinder.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ceramics Studio - 15 February

I had a few things I needed to get done on the 15th in the ceramics studio. Mom and I headed over to the studio around 7:30am. I wanted to get to the studio before anyone else because I don’t like working when students are there. I also wasn’t sure if the studio was going to be open, because Siggy said it would not be open on the weekends. So, if the ceramics studio was closed mom and I were going to work in the metals studio. Luckily, the ceramics studio was open.

The first thing I did was to get out my lidded cylinder and finished painting on the last layer of slip. I have no idea why I had to paint on slip, because I was out sick the day Siggy went over that section. I am just doing what Siggy told us to do.

While the cylinder was drying, I worked on throwing five clay slabs. We are using these slabs to make a rectangular, open, box. We are supposed to get that demo on the 18th in class. I got the five slabs made, though they aren’t to the size needed, but it is close enough. The clay is just too heavy for my wrists and hands to be comfortable working with.

The cylinder still was not dry so I had to use one of the heat guns to dry the sides of the cylinder. Once that was done, I could draw on the sides. The images I am using are from Birds and Bloom. I am using the images of a bird, daisies, a Calla Lilly and a butterfly;each images is in a “frame”. I was trying to think how I would draw a “frame”, when I said to myself, “use tape to make the outline of box.” Sometimes I just surprise myself.

So, I got the frames put onto the sides, I then started to draw the images. I did have to have mom’s help a couple of times to get the image to look alright. Overall I am pretty happy with how the images turned out. Since it was getting close to us having to leave. All I did was to take a carving tool and carved out the outline of the images.

On Monday in class I finished carving out the images. I am really happy with how the cylinder turned out, which I am sure surprises mom, because I am never happy with how anything I make looks.

Metals Studio - February 7th

Mom and I went to the VPA on the 7th of February to work on miscellaneous things. I was going to work on enameling the geckos that mom sawed, filed and sanded for me.

Mom worked on cutting out circles to make more V-J-J necklaces and bracelets. She cut out quite a few small, medium, and large circles; she then started working on filing and sanding them down. After she got done, or should I say when her hands wore out, she had green hands. Mom threatened me if they stayed green for her interview she would hurt me!

I heated up the kilns; of course, one kiln was already hot because the students forgot to turn it off. I am afraid to consider how long that kiln was on, because there are no classes on Friday.

I was going to try a new way to enamel the geckos. After I enamel one side, I have to flip the piece over to enamel the other side. I have to try and place the piece on the trivets so that the enamel won’t melt to the trivet or melt and form a divot in the piece, which you then have to file down with a special tool. The file puts scratches in the enamel, which you then have to try and get out. It is just one big vicious cycle. So what I decided to do was put paint kiln wash on the tray and place the geckos on the tray. Let’s just say that it didn’t go as planned, and I now have to fix the mistakes to six geckos. UGH!!!

While I was enameling, I was also helping my friend Shannon with soldering. Shannon can solder, but she does not like the torches, so I offered to solder for her. I am usually pretty good at soldering, but that day I couldn’t get any of the solder to melt. I was trying to solder a large copper tube to a flat piece of solder. The first time I soldered the tube, it didn’t melt. The second time I had Shannon get another torch and had her move the torch up and down while I focused on the area around where we wanted to solder and the solder. The solder still would not melt, so I got out the big torch because I was not fooling around anymore. The solder finally melted!

The other object Shannon needed soldered was a smaller tube sitting on a curved piece of copper. I had to use a “third-hand” to hold the tube while I was soldering. Again I couldn’t get the solder to melt, so I tried to use “Easy” solder instead. It still would not melt. So Shannon tried to help me again with adding another torch. Finally I got out the big torch because I wasn’t fooling around anymore with this either. And yes, the solder did finally melt.

Bring on the big torch!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Metals Studio - 1/31/09

Mom and I went to the metals studio on Saturday. When we got to the studio, the door was propped open, music blaring, lights on, the gas was left on, the pickle was left on, and no one was around. That totally honked me off. I cannot believe students just left the door open so that anyone could walk in and steal stuff. Plus leaving the gas on, how irresponsible is that. Oh yeah, I am talking about students…

Well, mom and I cleaned up and turned on the kilns to heat up so we could enamel some things. Shannon, a friend of mine, was suppose to be coming over later on in the morning because I told her I would solder some things for her. Shannon does not like the torch, so I help her out by soldering things for her. I hate soldering, but this gives me a chance to practice. Plus I still need to show mom how to solder, so I am killing two birds with one stone.

On this day I worked on enameling and mom worked on cutting, sanding and filing pieces. I got a pair of earrings enameled. It was a pair of hands I cut out from my time at Penland. I was going to use the hands to make a goblet, but I figured a different way to make the goblet and had the hands left over. So mom and I decided to make earrings out of the hands. I used a crackle white and misc. purple enamel on the hands.

I also got mom’s bowl enameled. Overall I think the bowl turned out pretty good although two of the holes in the petals filled with enamel again, but mom said don’t worry about it she had an idea on how to get around that issue.

I also finished enameling a Celtic pendant. I used cobalt blue enamel for the color. I also finished enameling a "family" pendant and I used the crackle white with black sprinkled on top of it.

Mom also finished cutting out, sanding and filing a bunch of geckos that I am going to enamel and then make into a necklace with some of our flameworking glass beads. Mom already knows what beads she wants me to use, but she has to find me an example so I can make up a bunch of them to go into the necklace. Those geckos I will get enameled next Saturday.

I also worked on fixing a goblet I made in 2007. I had sealed the copper with sealant, but it did not work out as planned. So I started to sand it off, but it wasn’t working very well, so I thought I would use the big torch. That worked really well, and helped my hands so I didn’t have to sand for hours. I tried a technique, to turn the goblet red, by heating up a bowl of water on a hot plate and then when the water was boiling I would heat up the goblet with the torch and once it was heated up, drop the goblet into the water. This is supposed to turn the copper a nice red. It worked on parts of the goblet, but of course I am not happy with it.

Mom and I are going to look for Linseed Oil and rub it on the goblet and see what happens with that. Mom has another idea if that doesn’t work. I really want to enter this goblet in the Undergraduate Exhibit next week. This will probably be my last undergrad exhibit and I want to enter the goblet, my headdress and a drawing I did of a horse.

Ceramics Studio - 1/30/09

Mom and I went to the ceramics studio on Friday. I wanted to make a couple of cups and another textured cylinder. The last two cups I made are the best of the bunch. I also think the last texture cylinder I made turned out really well. I think the last cup I made was my ninth cup, plus the two other textured cylinder’s I made. I guess practice does make perfect.

My next project is to make a lidded cylinder. This time we will use red clay to make the lidded cylinder. This cylinder is just like the cups, but this time I enclose it than cut out the top to make a lid. The class has to bring in images on Monday to show Siggy our ideas. I went through a bunch of Birds and Bloom magazines that mom and I have. I found pictures of flowers, a bird, and a butterfly that I liked. Mom came up with a great idea of making a pane for each image and stagger the boxes around the cylinder. I am also thinking of incorporating images of tree limbs over the surface of the cylinder between the panes.

What we will do once the cylinder is made, is draw the images onto the cylinder and than carve the images out in relief (not sure about spelling). I am not looking forward to the carving part. Siggy said we have to figure out how we want to carve the image. She will show us the tools to use, but we have to figure it out ourselves.

I still have not figured out how to throw a cup on the wheel yet. I am going to ask Siggy for more instruction or tips of how to do it more effectively. Will keep you informed about the progress in that area as it happens.

Knitted Baby Hat Project

Mom and I have been knitting baby hats for the past six months. During my textiles class one of the projects we had to do was knit a preemie baby hat. We had to use five double pointed needles to make the hat. I didn’t think I would learn to hold the needles, but I did and I ended up loving to knit. I wish I had this class prior to grandma passing away because we could have sat together knitting. I can just see her now shaking her head at me. J

Mom loved the baby hat and she wanted to learn how to knit. So, I started teaching her how to knit. We also took a beginning class at River Knits downtown. Mom and I even had the same woman teach us that we had going to see Grandma once a week, reminding her how to knit. I know Grandma appreciated Heather’s company as mush as she did getting back into knitting. She only wanted to make dishcloths, which she gave away to friends and family.

Mom and I want to knit 50 baby hats, and then donate them to the preemie wards at the hospitals. Some examples of the hats we have made. The red and white hat is the one I did in my textiles class. Mom and I like the Sugar and Cream yarn.

The next project mom wants to start are hats for ladies undergoing chemo treatments. That is something that I am going to have to learn how to do and then teach mom. Mom already has her yarn all picked out. I want to start knitting helmet liners for soldiers. I got the instructions from Siggy and now I just have to figure them out! J There are some other projects I would like to work on, but first I want to get mom started on the chemo caps and figure out that helmet liner. As usual mom wants to run before she can walk. The patterns she likes are not exactly beginner level.

I did knit an adult hat called the “Democratic Hat”, and I had to use bigger needles. I am starting to like how the hat looks because at first I was not happy with it. Plus the needles are a lot bigger than the needles that we use to make the baby hats. The needles just feel unwieldy, but I got over it and completed the hat.

Penland Postcard

While I was at Penland, our first project was to make a postcard. We had to incorporate metal and glass together into making this postcard. We got the assignment the first night we were there, and we had two days to make this postcard. I totally freaked out about this project, and what would I do for a postcard. It usually takes me a week or more to come up with ideas and then I bounce those ideas off of mom or have mom sketch up my ideas, because I don’t like to draw or sketch!

I know I won the scholarship to go to Penland based upon my work, but I don’t consider myself an artist. I consider myself a craftsperson that happens to be taking classes at Purdue to learn more about metal and jewelry. I think I was on the phone with mom for over an hour telling her I was so out of my depth, and I am not an artist, and I had no idea why I was there. Needless to say she calmed me down and came up with an idea for the postcard. She told me I need to talk one-on-one with the instructor telling them how I learn the best and seek additional input when needed. I think I was freaked out because most of these people were established artists taking the class.

I finally did get settled down, and I did go and talk with Jim about how I felt and some of the ideas I had. He said not to worry, this was a class for everyone and I was doing myself a disservice. So, I made the postcard out of metal, I used copper and brass. I did layers of metal for the postcard. The postcard was a square of copper with a layer of copper mountains and a layer of brass trees that were all soldered together. I do have to say the best thing I got out of this trip was a great new way to solder! The glass I used was to make lenses to make a pair of eye glasses. I then connected the lenses to metal frames and attached it to the postcards by riveting them together. I love this project because it turned out so well. Mom and I make a great team. She always has great ideas.

I just wish I could enter this project into the Undergrad Exhibit. Oh well. Ultimately I did stay for the whole two-week session, and I am so glad I did.

The class was two classes combined as one. There was a metals class taught by Jim and a glass class taught by Emilio. There were at least six guys in the class who had their own glass studios and two females in the class who had taken tons of glass classes. There were also a few students from the University of Virginia Common Wealth who have taken metals and glass classes. Needless to say, if I won the lottery, I would love to attend this university, especially since Emilio teaches classes there. His work is totally awesome.

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