Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Art Show

Any artist who says they only do it for themselves is lying.
Okay, there was that one dude who spent his whole life making stuff and keeping it in his apartment, so I suppose the chosen few are out there, but for the most part, artists make stuff so that other people look at it.
A great place to strut your stuff is at the art show.
There are three major juried shows here in Hawaii.
Thankfully and luckily(I'll get to this later) I've been in all three plus some smaller ones off the radar:

Now anyone can rent gallery space and put on a show.
Not everyone gets into a juried show.
The difference being that in a juried show, your work gets chosen by some artsy folks to be in their exhibit.
The process goes like this:
There's a call to artists.
You get a prospectus.
If you meet the exhibition requirements, you select some stuff to enter.
You fill out some paper work pay your entry fee and drop off either the real thing or images.
You wait.
Then you either pick up your work or you high five someone because your stuff got in.
I prefer when my stuff gets in because then I don't have to pick it up.
Until after the show that is.
That is if it didn't sell.
The Big Show is the Artists of Hawaii exhibition which usually runs during the summer.
I've been in that one only once:

It was a great experience for me because not only did I get accepted, I didn't even have to pick up my piece after the show was over.
I was sort of sad someone bought that bottle for it literally came out of the kiln a week or so before the show. I didn't get to spend too much time with it.
So anyways, I'll be documenting the art show experience, hopefully culminating with an exhibition but probably ending with me picking up my stuff making up excuses about why it didn't get chosen.
Big deal Mr. Flat Tire! So you've been in some shows.
Well it is a big deal and it's also not a big deal.
It was a big deal the first time, then a progressively littler deal as my works continued to show and I began to understand the process.
First of all, there's a lot of luck involved.
The show is usually juried by two or three artists, preferably of different mediums. They go through the submitted works, and the works that get green lighted get in the exhibition.
Some shows like the Artists of Hawaii show have a solo jurist which makes getting in even harder.
You never know what's going to make it onto the exhibition floor.
It's mostly luck.
So in that sense, it's not really that big of a deal.
One the other hand, your work was chosen to be there, so it sort of is.
A big deal, I mean.
So anyways, Hawaii Craftsmen's exhibition is what I'm shooting for. I've been in that show twice already but the last time was like in another life around nine years ago.
More on the drought later.
So for my basic entry fee, I can enter two works.
As of today, I have one 'maybe'.
I have less than three weeks to go.

UFT II Exposed!

Okay, here's my faux studio shots of the UFT II:

All I did was set up a poster board in my garage.
I was way too close to the subject so the images are a bit distorted.
Here's the cracked porthole window with the lustre glaze:

The white gold lustre came out great.
The landing gear with the tire patch and the running lights I added using a texture glaze:

The nozzles and what they look like inside:

I like that word.
The patches and the metallic finish:

That's the same glaze I used on the Industrial Teapot, with a really thin coat of that lustre glaze on it. The lustre didn't really do much to it.
By the way, that satin black I used on the tires, would have been great on the Industrial Teapot handles.
Which leads me to the not so good parts.
First, the lid was set really tight, so tight that when I glazed it, the thin layer of glaze changed the fit:

You can see it sort of rockin and a rollin on there.
Not so good and I should know better.
I may have to bust out the Dremel and grind down the opening some.
Maybe not.
The addition of the running lights, looks exactly like what it was: a last minute thing. I also wanted to use some blue there.
As I mentioned earlier though, I think I needed to go full on with the patches and fixes or not at all. Or maybe the patches just needed to be bigger for more emphasis. Over all the composition seems in between something.
Like I started to go somewhere with it and just stopped.
If you know what I mean.
I think UFT III and UFT IV will be the same versions of this except one will be really slick and the other really decrepit looking.
So anyways, there you go, submitted for your approval, the UFT II:

Monday, August 30, 2010

As Promised

Before I go ahead and unveil the new and improved UFT, let me just say that I just went through the worst 90 minutes of my life.
I don't usually use the word hate for I think it's an ugly and distasteful word, but I can honestly say tonight that I freakin hate going to dialysis when I'm sick!
For some odd reason, my body drives up the temperature and I suffer some serious chills!
I thought bike riding was my penance.
No sirree Bob, this is some serious suffering!
Okay, enough of that.
I mean I'm still sitting here typing right?
Okay, despite the fact that I feel like I've just been run over by a truck that backed up and ran me over again and again, I bring to you, the reader, the World Wide Debut of the the New and Improved UFT:

Boy, talk about anti-climactic!
Sorry folks, one pic is all you get for now.
I'll go over the good and the bad later as I'm on the verge of some serious collapse.
Just need to break this fever and I'll be peachy keen!
I think.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weekend Cactus Update!

Latest news from the Cactus Desk!
So I planted these cactus seeds almost two weeks ago.
Some are doing great, some not so great.
In fact, some are not even doing.
Anything, I mean.
I read that these things may take a while so no biggie there. I'm just sort of excited about the ones that sprouted, if you know what I mean.
Anyways, here's the carnegiea gigantea or Saguaro:

They don't really look much like cacti.
Weeds if you ask me.
These are the guys that take like forever to grow, so maybe somewhere along the line they morph into cactus looking thingys.
Expect the next update in oh, 2015.
The trichocereus spachianus started up about a week ago:

When all growed up it's supposed to look like this:

Apparently this brand of cactus is from South America and it's one of those slow growers too.
Luckily, I have other hobbies.
If I knew these were slow growers, I would have tried something else and not tricocereus candicans:

Yes, that looks a lot like the picture from last week, but trust me, there's some hot cactus action going on in there!
The little ones are just hiding under the cinders.
Finally, the neobuxbaumia polylopha are just taking off:

Some of them even have little spikey things on top!
Way cool!
These are my favorite because they're the only ones that actually look like something.
Even if they look like little things from the movie Aliens.
Ripley wasn't hunting this down, but maybe she should have:

I'm not sure what's going on there, and I'm not sure I like it.
Speaking of aliens, the UFT II is in the kiln and firing.
I don't know how it's going to come out, but you, the reader, will be the second to find out.
Of course, I'll be the first for I'm opening the kiln, but you will be second.
I promise.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oh Boy, Going At It Again

I wish this was a good Oh Boy, like Oh Boy! I found five dollars in my pocket!
Instead it's not a very good Oh Boy!
More like Oh Boy! another crack!
I didn't get to open up the kiln until this afternoon, I was busy laying down a floor and some carpet over at the family ranch.
I stopped off at the ceramic place before coming home to pick up some new glazes knowing that I had a big project to finish up:

Unfortunately, I didn't use any of the new colors.
Double unfortunately, the UFT II cracked.
It's not a large crack. In fact it's not that bad.
Certainly not like the crack on the first UFT.
So anyways, I take the thing out of the kiln and I'm all happy that the wheels didn't fall off:

Looking good!

You can see the slight fissure in the patch panel.
It's not the end of the world, for there are a couple of things I can do.
One of which is to actually make the crack larger, like it's intentional and part of the design.
I'm thinking about that one.
There are also a few things that bother me about that pot.
The landing gear are too close together so the pot is not very stable.
I knew that when I put them on, I was just sort of hoping for the best.
Something's also missing or not quite right in the overall design.
I feel like it's sort of in the middle of something, like I started to go in one direction, and stopped short.
Sort of like I added too many foo-foos, or not enough.
I'll see how I feel after it's glazed.
After doing three of these UFT thingys, I sort of got the feel for what I want so I'm going to make two more.
One like the first one, and another one like this one.
There's a show coming up next month so I want to get at least one of them done before then.
This is sort of how it goes, you work on a composition until you get it right.
Sometimes you luck out and get it right the first time, mostly you have to work at it.
I'm kinda teapotted out so I'll give it rest until Labor Day.
I mean I already got around twelve hours just in this piece alone and I'm still not finished glazing it.
Hopefully by then I'll be ready to go at it again.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Lesson of the Repeating Decimal, The Cycle

Boy did I learn something today.
This year, I'm working sort of one on one with English Language Learners.
These ELL kids don't go to regular class, for I guess their command of English isn't deemed good enough for them to succeed.
Most of the time is spent working on English skills, but for one class, math, we take on real life applications.
This week, we've been working on wages, figuring out hourly, weekly, monthly wages etc.
I'm blessed this year to work with a student that is hard working and diligent. Does what is asked without questions and seems eager to get better.
So anyways, today we tackled salaried wages and different pay schedules.
Bi-monthly, weekly, semi monthly, that sort of thing.
I ran into a slight problem for my student was having trouble doing long division.
The other day, I assigned some division work sheets which were completed with no apparent problems.
Today, we were trying to break down yearly salaries into pay periods and I hit another glitch.
Two digit divisors.
All the problems on the worksheets I had assigned were made up of single digit divisors.
I'm not a math person but I get by. The thing is, I lack any strategies for teaching math.
It's just not my gig.
Well anyways, I explain how to divide with two digit divisors best I can and leave the student to work on some problems involving dividing pay periods into yearly salaries.
I explain to the teacher that I'm off to the library to make copies of division problems for the student to take home.
I'm gone maybe ten minutes.
Upon returning, I find the teacher hovered over the student explaining things.
Did the student forget already?
Just the opposite.
Remember the part about the student being diligent and all that?
Seems the problem involved a repeating decimal and the without someone to explain what it was, the student simply kept dividing the number to like eight places.
The division problem ran so long it was about to run off the paper.
Boy, I felt pretty stupid.
Thing is, since the problems we were working all involved money, they answers were coming out without remainders.
Until this one.
Poor kid!
I can only imagine what would have happened if no one had interceded.
This could have gone on literally forever!
Okay, to be honest it gives me a chuckle when I think about it now.
Trust me though, when it happened, I did feel really bad.
I'm just lucky we weren't graphing trinomials or trying to figure out pi.
Hopefully, this won't happen again.
I also work with a ninth grade English class.
Not really my gig either, but I write enough to be dangerous to myself and others so it's sort of interesting.
This is my second tour of working with ninth graders and it's different from the first.
It seems to me that every year, ninths graders are different.
I mean some years they come in and they seem all ready for high school, even to the point of looking like high school kids.
This year, they seem immature and physically, well, immature.
I'm talking short.
As in height.
Seriously, if I saw some of them like at the mall or something, I'd guess them to be still in primary school!
Compared to ninth grade students from two years ago, some who could pass as seniors, this class seems and acts younger.
Does that make sense?
I think it's like a cycle, some sort of fast food induced growth thing.
Like the year Whoppers go on sale for 99 cents, there's this growth spurt, then you got the Taco Bell generation that seems stunted growth wise.
Maybe it has something to do with McRib sandwiches and Red Lobster Shrimp specials.
Or something.
It's all very strange.
Like that stupid repeating decimal.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Signs, Signs, Signs and Waving, Catching Up

It's that time of the year!
I think.
Well, it has to be for it has already started.
"It" is the signage and roadside waving that appears before election time.
See, it's the Governor's last term so the Mayor resigned so he could run for Governor, some city council folks resigned so they could run for Mayor, a Senator resigned so he could run for Governor, and some other folks decided to resign whatever they were doing so they could run for the Senate.
Or something like that.
I'm not sure, but I think we got like a special election coming up to fill all the vacant positions and the folks running for these public offices take to the street corners and make sure all their constituents know who they are and that they care so much that they'll stand by the side of the road, early in the morning to wave at passing cars:

I give this dude some credit, it was raining about a half hour earlier. Or maybe he was there to stake out the best spot.
Kapu, we call it.
I kapu that corner!
This guy is good.
He moves around and faces oncoming traffic in different directions. His sign is also larger:

This lady must really believe in her candidate. Her sign looks a bit more professionally done:

There are signs of support up everywhere.
Fences, garages, trees, houses, lawns; just about everywhere.
Except public land.
Of course not all of them stand by the road and wave signs. Some are content to just have their sign out by the street:

I'm not sure what that sign says about his supporters.
So anyways, I'm catching up on some reading.
I haven't read anything this summer except books about cactus, so I figured it was time to expand my mind.
Or something.

I'm not a real Hemingway fan, I gravitate more towards Fitzgerald. They are both similar in that their short stories interest me more than their novels.
I saw this in the school library and thought I'd give it a try for I've never read any other novel of his but The Old Man and the Sea.
Gotta set an example, don't you know.
So far, the bell is tolling pretty good even if it's written in a strange style. The dialog is sort of archaic.
I guess that can be expected of a something written almost eighty years ago.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On a Roll

Of sorts.
Boy, once I get started it hard to stop.
So today, I finished up the UFT II.
If you haven't been following along at home, you can see the first UFT here.
I needed to get it done today for I started on Sunday and it was starting to dry out.
The other night I started to get some inspiration for what I wanted to do with this thing. I had a basic idea, but I was missing some pieces.
So today, I added some landing gear:

This was tricky.
As you can see, the pot actually rests on a chuck, a ceramic round thingy, so that I can attach the wheels. I'll fire it that way.
Making the landing gear is risky, for they could fall off or be unable to support the body once fired. I also could have improved them structurally, but that wouldn't be any fun.
I also wanted to make one tire, well, flat, but that would have made the thing asymmetrical and we can't be having a lob sided pot.
So I just patched the tire and inflated it:

I was going to try and make it really roll, but I'll save that for another project. For this one, the wheels are fixed.
Then, I started to get really stupid thinking like "if I fill this up with dry ice and make some holes in the nozzles, it'll look likes it's taking off."
Luckily, I woke up.
I added some portholes to the lid, complete with cracked window:

Just for fun, I added another patch to the spout:

The idea was to create something that looked "well traveled" and sort of derelict.
I put some patches on the handle too, just to add more character, but I'm not real happy with it.
The handle I mean.
Here's one last image, just to give you the overall idea of what's going on:

I assembled the whole shebang on a kiln shelf so it would be easy to load. In fact it's already sitting in the kiln, where I won't be tempted to touch it.
I don't plan on doing anything else to it, I feel like I've sort of got all the teapots out of my system.
At least for now.
Hey! what happened to that other UFT?
Well, after doing this one, I sort of ran out of steam. I put it in plastic thinking that maybe something will come to me.
In a dream perhaps.
A wild dream.
I'll try and fire this stuff up on Thursday.
Hopefully the wheels don't fall off and roll to the bottom of the kiln.

Monday, August 23, 2010

1200 Miles! Invasion!

I wish I was young again.
Lost youth and all that.
I mean if I knew back then, what I know now, boy! what a ride it could have been.
This came up when I read about this seventeen year old girl's summer vacation.
In hell.
Bicycle hell.
Okay, not really, but sort of, if you know what I mean.
Seems for summer vacation she hopped on her bike and went like 1200 miles from New Hampshire to Michigan.
I don't know about you, but fifty miles is a bicycle hell for me, and lemme tell you, she went beyond the ninth ring or whatever you call it.
Okay, okay, it's not all about pain and suffering though I bet there were times she wished she had some electric assist.
You can read about it here.
What a great adventure!
Sleeping in trailer parks and backyards, places that when I was young, my mother would have nixed without a second thought.
Exploring the country side up close and personal, not through the window of a passing car.
I wish I had this kind of opportunity when I was young. I may have turned out differently.
My idea of adventure consisted of making believe a cardboard box was a spaceship and I was landing on the Moon.
Not when I was seventeen of course, when I was much younger(think single digit age group).
Then again, seventeen was about when I became a real space cadet.
I sort of still am.
Speaking of space, work continues in The Flat Tire Skunkworks(FTS) on more extra terrestial teapots.
Okay, they aren't really teapots anymore, not working ones anyways, but they do have spouts and handles.
Sort of.
As soon as I made the parts for this one, I didn't like it:

I realized right away, I liked the shape of the first one I did.
I kept going hoping for some divine intervention, but it never came. My ideas for the handle kept failing and it was getting late so as a last resort, well, you see what happened. Maybe the glaze will help it out.
I sort of lost interest in the first one I did for the second one showed more potential:

I have more goofiness planned for that one just to give it more character.
Or something.
I worked on those all day yesterday, and will try and finish them up tomorrow.
I'm trying to get some stuff done for there is a juried show coming up early next month. I need at least two pieces to make full use of the entry fees.
Hopefully one of my teapots can invade the show.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This May Take a While, UFT

I got up bright and early today for I wanted to check on two things: the cactus and the kiln.
The kiln, not so much.
The sprouts from the other day are doing well, I think I may have to take them out of the plastic covering and let them get some sun.
Not too much sun for they're still in the puny stage:

These seem to be coming right along. I am a bit worried though for it looks like all the seeds germinated!
Okay, not all, for I dumped like 25 of them in there, but it sure seems like more than a few are taking this growing up thing seriously.
There's also some hot cactus action going on in two of the other grower thingys:

Now I've been reading up on some of the cactus seeds I planted. Some of them grow sort of fast, some not so fast.
The seeds in the bottom pic are carnegiea gigantea, otherwise known as Saguaro, the humongasoid kine cactus.
Well it seems that Saguaro is one of those cacti that grows not so fast. In fact it grows really, really slow.
It seems I can expect to see around an inch per year.
An inch.
Maybe in thirty years, it might get three feet tall.
Hell, in thirty years, I may be three feet tall.
I need some Miracle Grow or some Gaviota.
Or something.
Now for some hot kiln action!

Okay, not really.
The kiln was cool enough to open so it was inspection time for the Unidentified Flying Teapot.
If you've been following along at home, you know I wasn't real happy the way it was coming along.
The colors I used helped it out a bit:

Here's close up of the foo-foos. I used an accent glaze to create some light fixture looking thingys:

The yellow one didn't come out so good, but the ceramic place was out of green. Too bad for it was a green that matched the green of the handle.
Sort of.
Over all, the color scheme works for me:

The bad news is that the crack came back. Well, it was always there and the patch thingy I used didn't work so good:

I'm going to try and get started on the new and improved UFT today.
Either that or I'm going to make more planters.
Seems I'm going to need them.
I'll get going right after Law & Order.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

All Done!

Well, it has been a long journey.
Sort of.
I mean I fired the thing three times and each time, it did not come out of the kiln the way it was expected.
Sometimes it turns out that way.
So, the Industrial Teapot is finally done.
Here's the before and after shots:

The glaze on the body smoothed out a bit, it's not as streaky as before.
I lid/cap matches better, the slight difference you see in the bottom pic is mostly lighting.
After consulting with the folks at the ceramic place, I fired the whole thing two cones hotter in hopes of getting the glaze on the bands to mature.
In doing so, I lost what little contrast I had between the bands and the body.
Then, I decided to lustre the rivet thingys for I wanted them to pop.
Get it? Pop? Rivet? Pop rivet?
Now you are supposed to use a lustre glaze on a glossy surface. I was hoping the glaze was glossy enough; I was wrong.
The lustre is supposed to look like bright silver; it's actually white gold.
Yes, real gold.
Presently, the lustre sells for $16 for a two gram vial.
Luckily a little goes a long way.
Anyways, the white gold didn't come out as expected, it appears to be more of a tarnished silver:

Being a fan of bright shiny things, I was disappointed when I opened the kiln.
After looking at it for a bit, I decided this "accidental" finish looks better. Sort of an "antiqued" look.
Now, if I can only do something about those handles.
Okay, now I'm done.
I think.
So you've seen the teapot from start to finish. It doesn't always go this way, flying by the seat of my pants, though sometimes making the ones like this are the most fun.
Most times, I'll have at least some sketches of what I want to do and I'll even have the glazes picked out. When working with clay though, you always have to be ready to improvise and make changes for things don't always work out.
Hey, that's kinda like life!
Tomorrow, the Unidentified Flying Teapot comes out of the kiln.
To tell you the truth, as I was glazing it up, the more I looked at it, the more I kept thinking it was missing something.
I may have to refire that one too.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hello There

So if you've been following along at home, you know that I got my cactus seeds in the mail last week.
If you haven't, been following along at home that is, see here.
I've been reading up a little on how to grow these prickly devils and apparently it ain't easy.
It's not like you just stick em in the ground and let em go.
These things are delicate little buggers, I guess that's why when you start them off, you plant a whole bunch of seeds and hope for the best.
Luckily, I had the little two inch planter thingys that came with all the other cactus I bought from the plant place.
I marked them appropriately and set them up in a tray:

I wrapped the whole thing in a plastic bag so that the soil doesn't dry out. The tray also contain about a half inch of water so that the soil can wick some of the moisture up. I sprinkled the seeds on top of the potting mix and covered them up with some cinders:

Then I closed the plastic bag, made some holes for air and waited.
The seeds are supposed to take like a week or so start sprouting.
Well, I put this whole thing together on Tuesday so I didn't expect for anything to happen until next week.
This morning, I opened up the plastic to add more water and I got a surprise:

You can barely see them but there's sprouts in them there planters.
Okay, in only one planter, but still I was excited.
From scratch!
Welcome to the world!
The ones that have taken off are neobuxbaumia polylopha.
If the get big, they are supposed to look like this:

Thank you to the Cactus Store for the image. It's also the place where I ordered the seeds from.
Now I don't know how fast these things grow; cactus aren't the fastest plants in the nursery. It also appears that more than one seed has started to germinate.
Now whether or not they all make it is up to nature I guess.
As long I don't forget to water them.
I guess I need to make more pots.

Burning Kiln Time

No, I'm not going to set my kiln on fire.
I don't think it's even a combustible.
This morning was one of those mornings when things can either be really good or really bad.
Well, not really really bad, but still it could have been bad.
I fired the Industrial Teapot last night so when I woke up I couldn't wait to see how it turned out.
I fired the two cups separately, so there that was an issue. Sometimes when you fire stuff at different times, you get different results; not so much with my firing how as it's all done in oxidation.
I also discovered that one of the glazes I used needed to be fired two cones hotter, which means the glaze probably was not fully maturing.
The thing is, it's too late to do anything about it since there are three glazes on the pieces and refiring to a hotter cone would over fire the other two glazes.
Still, the results were acceptable.
Sort of.
Here's the trio:

The glazes I used were metallic, not lustres, we'll get into that later, but a glaze that if I had to guess looks like they are overcharged with metallic oxides like chrome, iron, manganese and cobalt.
How do I know this?
Well, I formulated a high fire glaze using these components and got similar results.
Now the bad.
The lid doesn't match the body:

This looks like it's due to glaze thickness. I needed to give the lid one more coat to get it to match. This sometimes happens when you are glazing separate pieces.
I don't like brush strokes:

Or inconsistencies in the glaze surface for that matter. Sometimes it can't be helped. The glaze on the "band" is the glaze that's supposed to go hotter so, I don't think that can be helped.
There isn't as much contrast between the bands and the body as I wanted. Again, probably due to the fact that the bands are unfired, there's not much I can do there.
I'm not real happy with the look of the handles:

I knew I wanted the handles to be different, just not this different. I could have used another glaze and taken it in a different direction, but I wanted to stay in the same color spectrum. I glazed the cups first so I knew of this, but since the cups were already done, I sort of had to follow the pattern.
The lid will be refired.
I'll give it another coat of glaze and see if I can get it to even out with the rest of the pot.
I'm still debating on whether or not to refire the whole thing. Of particular interest are those handles.
I may just take some wet sandpaper to them to dull the gloss down and give it satin finish.
On the other hand, what I got may just grow on me.
I'll wait for later in the day when the light changes.
Okay, there you go, funky teapot from start to finish.
Well, not quite finished for there is one more detail to do.
I didn't get to do the Unidentified Flying Teapot for I forgot to pick up the patching stuff at the ceramic place yesterday so I couldn't do the body work.
I'll get that done tomorrow and I'll be sure to take more care when glazing it up.
I don't like to refire things.
First it means I didn't do it right the first time, and second, it seems like an awful waste of kiln time and space.
Well, it's my personal kiln now so I suppose that doesn't matter.
Still, it's a waste of electricity.