Saturday, February 6, 2016

when things go terribly, horribly wrong

You might remember I posted about carving the rose leaflet out of wax for a platform for the small pink flower to sit on. 

Well, I finished it and Marc made the mold and I filled it and it went straightaway into the kiln late afternoon on Wednesday. Marc set the schedule for drying the mold overnight and then moving on up to casting temperature on Thursday. So he went over to the shop Thursday morning to check on it and the kiln had malfunctioned and it was glowing red hot at nearly 2300˚, hot enough to melt batch for glassblowing. Casting temperature for our work is generally around 1500˚, sometimes hotter depending on how deep and narrow some of the elements of the piece are.

He shut the kiln off and cracked the door and by afternoon, while it was still too hot to take the mold out of the kiln, it wasn't too hot to take a picture or two.

So here's what a closed mold looks like when you get it hot enough to boil the glass and mold material and fuse the plaster and silica flour to the glass. (For you glass people out there I used Bullseye transparent lt. green, olive, and grass green in equal parts, all fine frit.)

The kiln shelf is toast, ruined as the glass and plaster at the bottom fused to the ceramic shelf.

It blasted two holes through the mold at the point of the leaf tips and the mold, which is usually soft as chalk after firing, was pretty damn hard and I needed a hammer and a putty knife to chisel and break it off.

I got as much of the mold off as I could and then soaked the piece in vinegar for an hour or so and then used a metal brush to get as much of the mold material off that was going to come off. What remains is hard even though it looks friable.

So instead of a nice rose leaflet, I have an alien geode.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

it's spring! no, it's winter. it's spring! no, it's winter

And so it goes here on the Gulf Coast Plains in February. The finches of both types are still here and also an occasional brown headed cowbird and a robin. We don't usually see too many robins out here though they were plentiful when we lived in the city. All the usual suspects are here as well...sparrows, bluejays, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, wrens, doves, warblers...and they would empty the totem bird feeder four times a day if I would fill it that often. Regardless of the temperature outside, the birds are convinced it's spring.

a bad picture of the brown headed cowbird

As is the 10 petal anemone, usually the first wildflower to make its appearance.

And I finally caught the squirrel climbing the rebar up to the totem bird feeder.

Other activities...

I am far behind in reading blogs and I appreciate that y'all still read and comment on me. And speaking of blogs, I lost about 20 followers overnight a couple of weeks ago because Google has decided not to count those that don't have Google/Blogger accounts. If I was up on this stuff I could have alerted those of you that got cut so if you are still here, I have added a 'notify by email' link on my sidebar so you can continue to keep up with fascinating me.

I've been trying to take advantage of the nice days to get some work done in the yard but really all I have managed to do so far is move the two stunted blueberry bushes and pull up some of the clover around the bluebonnets that are growing in the yard.

Beyond that, I have been working on the mounting for the magnolia leaves trying to decide what it is I want to do with them. I have several configurations going...all mounted on individual pieces of steel on a piece of stained interior grade plywood and framed with the narrow black frame I've been using (to hide the edges of the plywood), the previous with a stick from the magnolia tree worked through the leaves, or just the leaves on their pieces of steel and hung separately. It would probably help me decide if I would just go down and get the piece of plywood and stain it instead of using foam core board in a mock-up. Guess I'll do that tomorrow.

Monday, February 1, 2016

well, cry me a river

So the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is finally over, or nearly, except for the remaining 4 patriots terrorists. They want to leave but they don't want to go to jail and they don't want the FBI looking over, checking (or confiscating) their guns. Apparently they think the only option is to die in a gunfight with the FBI which they expect to storm the place guns blazing. They were still posting their 'come join us and get some guvment blood, there are no laws left in this land' scree and demanding the release of all participants, still vowing to fight to the death several days ago, or they were until the FBI has apparently finally cut off their cell phones and their internet connection. Mostly though, they are just scared little boys who want to go home but don't want to face the consequences of their actions.

You'll have to forgive me for not having any sympathy for these knuckleheads. They'll find out pretty quick that there are still quite a lot of laws in this land. I think the FBI and other law enforcement is being pretty damn lenient letting any of these armed wannabes go without charges after occupying and damaging the Preserve by bulldozing roads, rifling through artifacts, tearing down fences, terrorizing the community, and in general, being belligerent assholes.

Somehow they failed to understand that the land they are trying to liberate for 'the people' is already owned and operated by and for 'the people'. And, in truth, they were not doing this for the people but for themselves. They wanted the land turned over to the ranchers so that they could overgraze it, log it, and mine it for their own profit. Apparently the subsidies, the agricultural exemptions, the pittance they pay for grazing on public land as compared to what they would pay for privately owned land, the cheap loans, all provided by the government that they were up in arms against, all of which they enjoy, weren't enough. To hell with having conservation that protects the land from the activities of humans, that protects the land for the survival of the other creatures that call this planet home, that allows part of this country to remain a wilderness.

Now that the leaders are arrested and one of their number is shot and killed (who got exactly what he wanted, told us all he would rather be killed than go to jail and so he resisted arrest, ran from the law nearly running a man over, and reached for his loaded gun) they're all, we didn't want violence, we are a peaceful group, after a month of being armed to the teeth, publicly declaring that they would fight to the death if law enforcement tried to remove them, almost begging the FBI to come and take it.

What they don't seem to realize is that waving their pocket constitutions around (of which they have no clear understanding, along with their ignorance of history) and flag flying while engaging in armed insurrection against the duly elected government by the people does not make them patriots. A patriot fights for the country of which the government is the legal representative.

What they are, in the end, is just a bunch of selfish entitled religious right wingers who decided to take by force what they had no right to.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

more shop talk

Monday and Tuesday, I finished the current stab at arranging and organizing the shop. I'm determined to get it in some sort of order before it gets so hot over there it can't be inhabited. Some of what I want to do can't be done til we do this small animal hospital job (yes, Virginia there is a small animal hospital job) because the small bay that is to be the kiln room and in which one of the kilns sits but not the other or all the brick and fiber blanket sitting around taking up space elsewhere is where we are (probably) going to cut the stencils instead of where we are currently set up in the big bay. Confused yet? And it doesn't look like we are going to do the tear out of the interior rooms this year so I want to get them somewhat functional so that I can work over there this summer in air conditioned comfort.

I got the storeroom set up sans one shelving unit that I haven't bought yet (or the bricks and fiber blanket moved...see above). And I got all my frit reorganized into one pound size jars that my friend Paul sent to me, happy to be rid of 70+ empty jars, and moved. I ran out of caulk so I still have about 5' on the back side, one short side (which is totally overgrown and I can't get to), and the short front sections in between the bay and people doors left to do. I got the caulk but the weather turned cold on Tuesday and it is just now warming up again.

So I've been working on trying to get the last two cast pieces from fall finished before I start on anything else. To that end, I located a shop that could provide me with the 1/4” pieces of steel plate for mounting the magnolia leaves and set them out for further rusting. I got a big piece for all three and three small pieces since I wasn't sure how they would look best. Consensus of opinion is the three small pieces. I also didn't count on how heavy they would be so I went back and got three pieces of 1/8” steel plate. They are sitting out for rust accumulation.

So finally, Tuesday afternoon I got out the wax working tools and started on the wax model for the last little piece, the pink flower with the bee, something I had been putting off waiting for the deposit check for this job that no one seems in a hurry for us to start (though I imagine they will be in a big hurry for us to finish). That evening, I was going through my spam blocker folder looking for something and came across an email that was nearly a week old from the art consultant about the university still not having received the substitute W-9 form that we sent in weeks previous. So, form now emailed and one more step in the direction of actually getting this job.

In the meantime, I am working on this wax model of a rose leaf platform for the little flower to sit on.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

avian visitors

I hate this stupid camera.

I have a Canon PowerShot and the autofocus sucks. I take hundreds of pictures of the birds that come to the teacup, centering it and the bird in the frame, and 9 times out of 10 it will focus on the foliage behind it. What the fuck, camera! I've got so many great shots of the birds, or I would have, if they were just in FOCUS!

NOT in focus

The last several days the tea cup and the new totem bird feeder are being mobbed. Not so much by my standards at the tea cup...the cardinals, titmice, chickadees, the occasional curious wren (which I have not been able to get even a single good picture of), and in the winter, the orange crowned warblers although they are here too...but by some newcomers...goldfinches and house finches. I've seen the occasional house finch before but the goldfinch is new. And not just one or two but a whole flock. Same with the house finches. The tea cup is filled just with sunflower seeds but the totem bird feeder has a general mix so I'm getting sparrows, blue jays, inca doves along with all the seed eaters.

A note about the window faces east so the lighting isn't the best in the morning when I take most of these pictures, sitting here with my coffee, especially when the sun is shining.

in alphabetical order:


cardinal (this is an older picture because I can't get a current one in focus)



house finch and goldfinch




house finch

house finches

house finch

orange crowned warbler


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

waiting, drawing, arranging, repairing

You might remember that I have been interacting with an art consultant for a job of three large panels for a small animal hospital since July. A November installation, they said. The project was finally approved last December and the tax form required for funding mailed off the second business day of the new year and still we are waiting for the deposit that will get us started. Once it comes the lazy days are gone for a while.

I'm in-between on the casting. I have a few pieces, the magnolia leaves, the pink flower, to finish. One involves mounting and the other needs a new wax to cast the leaf part. I'm loath to get out the model making tools since I may be having to start on this etched glass job any time. Kind of at a loss as to what to do with my days. Been looking over pictures, making line drawings for the next set of pieces. These will be low relief panels in groupings, variations on a theme, the first two being feathers on the beach and the moon. 

I think they are going to be very different from what I have been doing. For one, these are going to be relatively simple famous last words, for another, I plan to use opaques (as opposed to the transparent glass I usually use) or a combination of both. I may be hesitant to get out the model making tools but I can and need to make the wax blanks I will need first. So that was my plan for this week.

I'm trying to rearrange the shop as well, move the stuff back into the storage room but more organized instead of the helter skelter it was before. Marc took the old dilapidated shower out for me and now I need some new shelving units but I did move some stuff back in there. 

I'm moving the shelves that hold all my powders and frit since Marc has taken over the space I was using for that for his mold making and generally trying to get the things that are still just sitting around into designated spaces.

And shop repair. I'm caulking around the outside where the sheet metal sides meet the concrete slab, about 100 linear feet so far. I'm hoping this will take care of the water seeping in during rains. I still need to get back up on the ladder and finish the roof repair. Although I already sealed the areas that were actively leaking, the rest is corroded and in danger of leaking.

Headed into town today to deliver the day lily piece and buy new shelving units and maybe some cabinets and counter top for the shop.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

ming porcelain day lily

You might remember I posted a while back about not doing commissions in the cast glass and that I was doing a commission in the cast glass. I posted the progress of making the model and the finished wax piece here. The mold was made and I filled it before christmas and it went into the kiln.

Filling in the different layers and colors of frit and powder:

The cast piece washed but before any finish work is done:

Well, it is finally finished and framed and ready to take to my friend.