Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Making the Foo-Foo

I went out on my ride today looking for things that I could use to decorate my planters.
I didn't really find anything inspiring or interesting.
Well, this was sort of inspiring:

For my cactus plants anyways.
So I got home and got to work on my planters.
Time to make some foo-foo:

I wasn't really getting into the pattern thing so I just sort of did the first thing that came to mind.
Most potters don't get into carving stuff on their pots. I think they get too attached to their work and don't want to alter them.
Well, like this ceramic artist Frank Boyden said, the first mark is the hardest.
I mean once you start, you are pretty much committed.
So off I went:

I wasn't too concerned with the patterns coming out perfect or anything. I just sort of went with the flow.
Simple geometric stuff seemed to work out okay:

I sort of missed the center on that last planter. The design band should be a little higher up.
While I'm doing the carvings, it gives me some time to think about the pots and how I'm going to glaze them.
Actually at this point in my pottery thingy, I sort of know what I'm going to do as far as glazing goes while I'm actually making the pot.
This really helps for if you ask any potter, sometimes the glazing is more difficult than making the piece.
I left the vee shaped planter plain. I think it will look better without any foo-foo thingys.
So anyways, there they are, waiting to get bisque fired.
My kiln is so small, I doubt if I can do two at at time. Tomorrow, I'll get back on the wheel and make some smaller stuff to fire along with the planters.
I have some other stuff to fire so I'll probably load up at least one of them tomorrow night.
I hope nothing explodes.

Making Feets

Today, I got up bright and early to trim my planters.
Okay, not really.
I got up sort of late and had to force myself to get on those pots.
I don't use the same wheel to trim as I do for throwing.
I throw on an old electric and use a kick wheel to trim:

Actually my kick wheel is motorized too and I throw on it also, but for now, I only use the electric to make stuff.
Just me being quirky I guess.
So anyways, the tools of the trade:

So the object today is to get rid of all the extra clay on the bottom of the pots. I use those loop tools to cut away the excess as the pot turns on the wheel.
First you flip the thing over and center it on the wheel:

Spin up the wheel and start to trim away all the extra stuff off the bottom. This is also when you set the foot.
The foot of the pot is that outer ring on the bottom:

I think I did a couple of passes with the tool there.
Once I get it nice and smooth, it's time to make the puka.
Remember, these are planters:

I sort of gave the bottom the same look as the rim. If I do this design again, I'll make sure to make the top rim and bottom foot the same diameter; right now the bottom is a bit smaller than the top.
Then again, it looks okay the way it is.
I also could have angled the bottom a bit more to match the way the rim is angled in:

Flip, center, repeat:

Now those are footed differently from how I would foot bowls and stuff.
More on that later.
Anyways, I was cleaning up and found this porcelain plate I made way back in another life:

The thing that's interesting about this plate is that the the colored portion is not glazed, it's inlaid with colored porcelain:

The design was carved out, then inlaid with clay that was mixed with a stain(colorant) and fired. There is no glaze on the plate.
Sort of the stuff I was into way back when.
Which brings me back to the planters.
Now, I'm going to spray them down with water and let them sit a bit. Then I'm going to break out the tools again and carve some designs in them.
First, I'm going out for a ride and some lunch.
Maybe get inspired.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cactus Creations, Puka Pots

So I finally got off the couch.
I mean really, this past few days I've been in some serious need of some motivation.
It wasn't really a riding day today:

I decided it was time to take care of those cactus plants I got.
What cactus plants?
See here.
I had a pug of clay sitting around for like two months.
Why they call it a pug I have no idea; it looks nothing like a dog.
Trust me on this, I have a dog.
So anyways, I need some planters in which to relocate my cacti. Seems they need pots that are deeper than they are wide.
Too bad, since I got a bunch of bowls sitting around that would have been great.
Seems I need some Custom Cacti Creations(CCC).
This would be interesting for planters are not really my thing.
I mean I'm an artist don't you know.
Anyways, about five pounds clay seemed right.
First, you gotta sort of make it flat:

This is not as easy as it may seem.
It's a lot easier to get the clay to move up rather than down and out.
Then you make a puka in the middle.
For those of you following along at home, a puka is a Hawaiianism for hole:

The key to working stuff wide and tall is to go slow.
Next you start to open it up and pull up the walls:

For this planter, I wanted to get fancy smancy.
I had a sort of double vee shape in mind:

I started to tuck the bottom in while opening up the top.
Then I hit it with a flat thingy called a rib to smooth out the walls and make the final shape:

I worked the rim a bit to put some angles on it.
I sort of like working forms with edges and angles as opposed to just making round boobalous things.
Then again, round boobalous things are okay too:

Okay, that's not really a round boobalous thing, but you get the idea.
So anyways, I got like four cacti, I needed four CCCs:

Took me around two hours to punch these out even after I made a mistake on the first one and had to recycle it.
When I get home later tonight, I'll cover them in plastic to slow the drying down. By tomorrow morning, they should be ready to trim, which in ceramic artist speak means to clean up the bottom and put a foot them.
I need to get some glaze from the Ceramic Hobbyist; I don't think I have enough to do all four.
Hopefully, the cactus plants will have a new home by late next week.
I gotta say, I was t h i s close to going out and buying some pots, but really that would have made me feel pretty lame.
Anyways, we'll see how these planters come out. I have some ideas for the color and the design of the glazes.
I really like stuff by Maria Martinez; in fact I've probably been subconsciously influenced by some of her shapes.
I'll probably try and put a contemporary spin on some of her designs.
Stay tuned.
Oh, and the puka pots?
Well they are planters right?
I mean they got holes in the bottom.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

No (hard)Cycling for (this)Old (man)Men

Man, I was feeling old today.
Okay, I am sorta old so I guess I was actually feeling my age.
I almost had another attack of DILBPS.
For those of you not following along at home, that's Dehydration Induced Low Blood Pressure Syndrome.
I wasn't feeling my best as I made my way around my regular route. I mean my legs were sort of there, but not quite up to my usual Herculean efforts.
My head began to feel strange after a bit but I thought maybe I was having a bad hair day.
You know, the kind of day when your hair hurts.
Anyways, it happened at mile nine, just after I climbed up the hill to the entrance to Lanikai.
My heart rate went up and unfortunately, my blood pressure did not.
Got a bit woozy, so I got off the bike and stood there for a while and caught my breath.
Now this hasn't happened to me in a while.
On the days after I get dialysis, I try to get out later in the morning; I don't just wake up and go out for a ride.
Today, I had been up for about four hours so I figured all was okay.
Apparently not.
I drank some water and did the two and a half miles around Lanikai in neutral, just testing myself.
After the free ride I got the last time this happened, I wisely decided not to push myself too hard today.
So I was sitting at the Chevron, thinking about things, drinking my Icee:

Maybe there is no cycling for old men.
Of course that's not true.
There are probably a GAGILLION old dudes out there who could ride my legs off. I mean just because you get old doesn't mean you stop riding your bike.
Doesn't mean you have to stop riding hard either.
It's this kind of day that makes me rethink my reasons for riding.
I do it because it's healthy.
I do it to keep my weight under control.
Of course I do it because it's fun.
Kinda sorta.
I mean it 's fun just riding around.
It's also fun when you push yourself.
On the other hand, it's not very fun if you have to wonder if you are going to make it back home.
I guess I just have to learn to read the signs my body gives me, like I did today, and take it easy sometimes.
So anyways, I got back on the bike and did the rest of my route.
I took it nice and slow see, that's the way to do it.
Nice and slow.
I came up my hill and was in my garage when I felt DILBPS coming on again.
Boy, getting old sucks.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

No Upside to Being Late

Boy, I feel pretty lame.
I mean I was all set to check out the eclipse and it already happened!
Like last night!
Right as I watched the Moon pass in front of my window!
I mean I was charging up the camera batteries and getting my stuff ready to charge out the door in search of clear skies; I even put gas in my car!
I even went out to get a picture of tonight's Moon rise to start things off:

Now, I have to sit here and watch like The Magnificent Seven or reruns of NCIS
I should have approached this like cutting wood: measure twice, cut once.
No kidding, I was literally sitting here watching the Moon pass outside my window!
So anyways, I'm going to sit here and sulk for a bit.
I'm trying to find an upside to this, but I'm having trouble.
I mean seriously, is there an upside to being incredibly stupid?
Well, I guess that means I can go to sleep early.
Or something.
December 17 it's supposed to happen again.
I might have to tattoo that date on my forehead.
Backwards of course.
You know, so I can read it in the mirror.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ticks and Clicks, Pings and Dings

Took the Lanikai Express out today for a ride around Kailua.
It was one of those 'just get out' days, so I just sort of rode around going nowhere.
I think I got rid of the slipping seat post thing. I marked the post with some tape and it only seemed to slip about a sixteenth of an inch before holding.
Now that I think about it, I'll probably take the post out again and use a file to roughen up the interior of the seat tube.
Got a funky click/clunk/tick/tunk on the drive side pedal that wasn't there before.
Also some high pitched pinging and dinging.
I very much dislike these kind of noises that just sort of appear and disappear.
I pulled over in the park and tightened up the chain ring bolts and that seemed to help.
I think I need to take apart the cranks, grease every thing up, then tighten back up.
I'm wondering if I should use some Loctite on there too.
Stickers came in the other day and I badged the head tube:

The emblems came in a single sheet; here they are after I cut them up:

Those are not the correct emblems. The down tube badges just said 'Fisher' and the head tube badge was an 'M', not the newer mirror imaged M.
Still, it's a Fisher and I feel sorta obligated to badge it.
It rained on my ride.
One of those short but intense rains that comes rolling in from the ocean then disappears just as quickly as it came.
It was a pretty hot day with little wind so it steamed when the pavement got wet:

Sort of hard to tell there but if you look closely you can see the wisps of steam rising off the parking lot.
I did another lap around Kailua town before heading on home.
Funny thing about the windward side of the island.
It's still pretty much country.
Although it is all urbanized and the like, there are still patches and signs of country life.
Once in a while you can even see chickens on the side of the highway.
One mile from my house and right before you hit the Safeway, there's this:

That's right, we got pasture land right down the street.
Now there's horses but there was a time when there were cows. That open land wraps around the hills and ends up the street from me. I was out walking one night and was startled out of my pants by cows mooing.
Seems the cows were hidden by the brush behind the fence next to the sidewalk.
If I was riding my bike, with all it's clicks and ticks and dings and pings, I might have frightened them off.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grimaldi, One Day to Full

Tomorrow is supposed to be the full Moon.
I think I already posted up full Moon pics, so it's going to be slim Moon pickings from here on out.
I just need images of a really new Moon, not to be confused with a New Moon(no Moon), like from one day old to around six days.
In other words, the first quarter.
The last quarter too.
In my opinion, that's when the Moon grabs my attention.
Slivers of light in the dark.
Oh, and don't forget, it's like two days until the Lunar eclipse!
Okay, one day until the full Moon:

There's almost nothing there that we haven't already gone over.
Tycho, Copernicus, and Kepler are all in their full glory.
In fact through the scope, there are tons of smaller impact craters that are literally glowing white.
Amazing stuff.
Oh, and I'm going to go back and put the main Moon features we've already gone over in the post titles so they are easy to find.
Here's tonight's challenge:

If you are using a low powered instrument, you just may be able to make out Grimaldi.
It will appear as a dark spot right on the Western edge.
It is a flooded crater about 222km in diameter. My book says there is an external wall that measures 430km.
If you can spot Grimaldi, try Hevelius(106km) and Cavalerius(58km). It will take a steady hand and maybe even a bit more magnification to see them.
Grimaldi should be easy though.
I saw it looking through this:

That's an inexpensive 8X monocular.
Steady it against something solid, and you have a portable observatory!
I carry it around with me when I ride; it's particularly useful at the beach.
To monitor uh, meteorological events.
Or something.
Moon Factoid:
The International Astronomical Union(IAU) is responsible for the naming of Moon features.

Much Ado About Nothing and Something

Things are kinda slow here in Flat Tire Land.
I like it that way.
More on this later.
It's windy and overcast and I was feeling lazy so I stayed in and watched a sleeping dog well, sleep.
Random photo time:

Ala Moana Beach

Abandoned helmet

have a seat

Orange Cream Soda

Magic Island, Ala Moana

Just clearing out the random picture file.
So anyways, about the slow thing, I'm reading through my blog list and came across this cool community thing on Cyclelicious on neighborhood pace cars.
The thing is, now with the bicycle lanes near my home, there are effectively two lanes where there used to be four. Cars can no longer overtake slower drivers unless they use the middle(turning lane) lane or go illegal and use the bike lane on the right.
This pace car idea looked cool so I sent an email to the Kailua Neighborhood Board dude along with a couple of links explaining the idea.
We'll see how this pans out.
Or hopefully fans out.
I'll keep you posted.
One last random photo:

Makapu'u Beach

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Forecast: Cloudy

Okay, not really.
A forecast I mean.
I mean it's cloudy tonight so I guess I'm going to be waiting until next month to get tonight's Moon shot.
The good news is that there's gonna be a lunar eclipse on Saturday night.
Make that Sunday morning.
Okay, not that early as it's supposed to start at about 12:30am or so.
I hope it's not cloudy.
You can be sure that the Flat Tire Mission Control Center(FTMCC) will be waiting for this event.
It's not a full eclipse, only a partial one, but still, it should be kinda cool. The last partial one I had the pleasure of viewing was interesting as well. The Moon got all dim and sort of reddish as the Earth blocked out the Sun.
No, that's a solar eclipse when the Moon blocks the Sun.
A lunar eclipse is when the Earth gets in the way of the Sun shining on the Moon:

Not as dramatic as turning the day into night.
More like turning the night into, well, night.
Still, should be pretty cool.
More about Saturdays/Sundays eclipse here.
While The Flat Tire Observatory(FTO) is shuttered for the night, let me take this time to finally give credit to the Moon reference I've been using:

Atlas of the Moon, by Antonin Rukl, was published in 1996 by Kalmbach Publishing, the publishers of Astronomy magazine.
Unfortunately, it is no longer in print.
There was a second edition.
Unfortunately, the second edition is no longer in print also.
You can find it used for like a GAGILLION dollars at places like Amazon, but if you are really hard up for one, I would check evil eBay.
The bad part of astronomy books is that there are usually short printings. The good part is that you can find really good books in the bargain section of your favorite book seller because hardly anyone ever buys them.
I just picked this up from Borders for like nine bucks:

Okay, well I had hoped it would begin to clear in the time it took me to post this up, but no such luck.
Let's hope the forecast for Saturday is clear.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mare Humorum and Gassendi

There was a bit of moisture in the air tonight so images are not real sharp.
Four days past the first quarter:

The Moon is almost full!
From there, if you want check out the Moon past full, you have to go back into the archives for there are just a few days for me to fill.
Anyways, here's Mare Humorum, the Sea of Moisture, and Gassendi:

Mare Humorum is not that much bigger than Sinus Iridum(see last night). It's about 380km in diameter.
Gassendi, named after a French guy who corresponded with Kepler and Galileo is 110km.
Speaking of Kepler:

Kepler stands out because of the reflection of the ejecta field, though not as brilliant as Copernicus. The crater is only 32km across, but the ray field is quite prominent.
Both Copernicus and Kepler reside in Mare Insularum, or the Sea of Isles.
Moon Factoid for tonight.
The Moon is about 230,000(average) miles distant. If you rode your bike at an average of 15mph, it would take you about 640.5 days to get there.

Gary Fisher Lanikai Express

All roads lead to the beach.
At least on this bike.
Kinda sorta.
If you've been following along at home, you know that I got my Gary Fisher HKII from KVIBE, a bicycle co-op of sorts.
I had to do a bit of work to get it going, mostly work involving oil and grease.
Here's what it looked like:

Well, there was a lot of rust on it, rust that I just couldn't live with. The bottom bracket was also loose and when I took that apart, well the whole bike just sort of came apart.
Here it is in it's reassembled glory:

Please excuse this image.
I had to Photoshop a pregnant lady out of the picture.
Anyways, I didn't want to spend too much(any) money fixing this bike up. Two cans of spray paint and a lot of elbow grease went into this project.
Here's the cranks and new/old front derailleur:

Notice the Deore pedals.
The cranks themselves polished up real nice but the rings were stained by corrosion. The chain ring bolts were toast so I just painted them.
Same with the brakes. The levers were okay, but the hardware needed to be painted also:

I still need to paint the boss bolts.
The rear derailleur came out okay, although it was dinged in a couple of places. The cassette cleaned up surprisingly well:

The hubs took some shine too, but I wasn't able to clean the flanges too well:

In a way, I'm sort of lucky the frame was in such bad shape. Lucky for if it was nice, I would have been tempted to go out and powder coat it and do a full on restoration.
I get caught up in things like this don't you know.
I'm still waiting on some GF stickers and I'm going to do some hand lettering on the top tube.
A handlebar change is probably in the future as well as the original bar has some deep rust problems.
The seat is surprisingly comfortable if a little torn, and the seatpost slips a bit. I have to do something about that.
All told, so far I got about forty bucks in this which includes new brake cables and the front derailleur.
I also ordered a new cartridge bottom bracket, but am undecided about using it as it weighs like a GAGALLION pounds.
There you go.
The Lanikai Express.
I have to admit, I'm sort of looking forward to doing this again. This time, I'll look out for a more suitable subject. I also learned a lot doing this, about older bikes, and about newer bikes.
Fixing up an old steel bike, Flat Tire Recommended!