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.

Friday, January 15, 2016

all my heartthrobs are leaving

First David Bowie, now Alan Rickman. Both 69 and died of cancer this week. Kurt Russell better not be sick.

I don't remember which film I first saw Alan Rickman in but I've been in swoon with him ever since.

I wish this was a video so I could embed it but it's not, just a series of photos of this handsome and talented man in some of his many roles.

There is this one though.

Fly high Alan.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

another post about the dog

Well, I didn't, as it turned out, get to sit on the couch and read all day Sunday. The puppy, having discovered that it wasn't that bad outside, would not be satisfied with naps in laps and Would. Not. Stop. pestering me to play. Fine! So I took her over to the shop yard to run around and do doggy stuff while I tackled a section of the way overgrown fence between us and the neighbor on the side with gloves and long handled nippers. It didn't take long before I shed my hat and jacket. Actually, I'm glad that I did get out in the sunny day since the next day it turned overcast. 

The puppy, who is now curled up beside me, is fast transitioning into a dog. One of the would be Little Fuckers from down the block still visits just about every day, unconvinced I guess that she is no longer interested in his attentions, and they play, or rather Minnie runs huge circles around him while he sits there looking confused.

Since most of her toys have been relieved of all their stuffing and torn to shreds, I bought her two new ones last Friday at the Episcopal Church re-sale shop, a little blue bear and a green frog. Nearly broke the bank at 25 cents a piece. She spent the day Saturday doing brain surgery on the blue bear.

She's also partial to a toy we bought for the cat who never seemed much interested in playing with it. It's a stuffed mouse that makes an eeky noise when moved. She runs around with that thing in her mouth throwing it around. Must be the rat terrier in her.

One day when she was being a pest, I told her to use her words and she started making the funniest sequence of sounds so when whining or barking doesn't get her what she wants, she'll sit next to me looking intently at my face

We're not exactly sure who got lucky the day we found her in the yard.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

an empty space

Sad news to wake up to yesterday morning. David Bowie left us Sunday night. Dead at 69 after a long battle with cancer. The good ones always seem to get taken too soon.

I was fortunate enough to see David Bowie in concert in 1990 on his tour, the last tour he would perform his older body of work. He was retiring certain songs from public performance.

No need to tell what a talented man he was, how many boundaries he crossed, how innovative he was, how just fucking awesome and beautiful he was, how suddenly less the world is without him.

Fly high David. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

winter again

The cardinals, titmice, and chickadees are busy at the teacup, that is until the squirrel comes around for her daily fattening up. I'm having to fill it twice a day sometimes so that there is enough for the birds. I tend to let the little girl squirrels feed but run off the little boys. I figure the little girls might be pregnant and need the extra food. The little boys can go forage elsewhere.

After a few warm days (I saw red bud trees putting out blooms on New Year's Eve), we are back to winter. A strong north wind blew all day yesterday and the temperature plunged into the low 30s last night. I chose not to bring in all the tropicals, instead covering them with a big plastic tarp where they are all huddled against the south side of the house. As long as we are just getting quick dips down, they should be fine out there.

The puppy and the cat don't care for this cold weather but then, neither do I. Minnie occupies laps while Emma has taken over the puppy's bed.

This year the heater has been rattling loudly when it comes on and I was thinking I needed to call the central air company and have them find out what the problem was. They had already been out for our annual winter check up and said we were good to go. Then, last week, while it was still warm and we were not using the heater, we called the propane company out to fill our nearly empty tank. New owner of the company and they sent a guy out first to check for leaks before they sent the truck out and he detected a leak and located it in the attic, an old valve that should have been replaced when we got the new central air unit 3 or 4 years ago, had come loose. He tightened it, they filled the tank and we are good to go. Turned the heater on yesterday noisy rattling. I don't know what that guy did up there Friday, but he solved both our problems. Still need to call the plumber out though and get the valve replaced.

I'm having one of those days when I don't feel like doing anything and feeling guilty for not taking advantage of this day to do any of the many things that need to be done around here, especially knowing that we will be very busy soon for 2 – 2 1/2 months working on the small animal hospital job. We received a tax form right before christmas that is required by the customer in order to fund the project and sent it in last week. I keep having to remind myself that unproductive days are not wasted time.

And so to that end, I am going to not waste time by sitting on the couch with my book for the rest of the day.

edit: I decided to take a little foray outside before settling down. It's actually not too bad out there as long as you are in the sun and out of the wind. Even Big Mama is out sunning herself. I still don't feel like doing anything though.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

ball mill results

Well, the holidays are over and it's time to get back to work. First order of business was excavating my desk and work table. So far, after managing that, I drew a pattern for a small transom job and started the finish work on the day lily, you remember, the commission for my oldest friend (and yes, you still have to wait to see it, I'm going to do a start to finish post when I finally get it finished and framed).

Before I started on the day lily casting, I went over to see what I had in the ball mill. I had let it run off and on for a couple of days and then it was the holidays and the in between week.

Well, first of all, there is nothing between big chunks (which aren't so big anymore) and powder. 

No smaller grains to be sifted out. The other thing is, besides the small amount of powder that got dumped out with the ceramic marbles and glass chunks,

it was all caked against the sides and bottom of the canister.

OK, I thought, just get a paint brush and brush it down and dump it out. Uh, no, that didn't work.

OK, I'll get that extra spatula from the kitchen and get the powder out with that. Uh, no, that didn't work either.

I had to get the thin metal tool I used to clean out the canister in the first place and scrape that shit off the sides, bottom, and shoulders of the canister.

So now I have glass powder all over me but I did get most of it dumped out and in a jar (and yes, I was wearing a mask the whole time). Next time I'm going to weigh the glass chunks first and the powder after to see how much is lost during the process.

I returned the ceramic marbles and the still remaining chunks of glass to the canister and started it up again. At this rate, it's going to take me all year to powder the remaining 14 or so colors. And what a pain in the ass.

No wonder everyone keeps giving this thing away.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

out with the old, in with the new

2015 was an easy year, a year of transition, a year when I started to think of myself as semi-retired as opposed to just not having any work. We've had plenty of slow years work-wise in the 40 or so years that we have been doing the architectural glass but last year was the first year that I haven't worried about it, mostly because with the sale of the old homestead in the city in 2014, we didn't have to worry about not being able to pay our bills. Other changes came as well. In the spring, I failed my eye test to get my driver's license renewed and for the first time in my life, I had to get real wear-all-the-time glasses as opposed to the drugstore magnifiers I've been relying on for years for reading and close up work. They took a good deal of getting used to and even now, I still don't wear them sometimes. Also in the spring, with my 65th birthday, I became eligible for Medicare and so for the first time in my adult life, I had medical insurance.

What else...I finished all the Botanicas, got them cast, finished, and framed for mounting. Well, all but one which cracked and upon re-firing, cracked again. I think about doing a new one so that I will have the full 20 pieces but I'm really sort of done with them. The last, cracked Botanica will just become part of my personal collection, I guess, along with all the other pieces that have cracks in them. And while I haven't started on a new body of work yet, I have made a few miscellaneous pate de verre pieces.

I found a yoga class in the next little town over and have been going twice a week in addition to my 'five a day' sun salutations I'd been doing all year. Summer was full of the visits from the grandkids, all teens now and three out of the four have full-time summer jobs so I love that they still want to come out. A little puppy came into our lives, dumped, abandoned, who found her way to our yard and wouldn't leave and who has made a huge space for herself here. I spent a week in Calgary, Canada with my girlfriends. All in all, it was a pretty laid back year and we ended it with loud pops, bangs, and sparkles with the Girl and her family.

the bone pile

And celebrated the new one the next day.

The grandgirls are here and I take them back on Sunday. 

We've been doing our usual end of year of sleeping late, snuggling on the couch watching movies and, new this year, giving the twins practice time driving. Later today we head for our favorite shops and there is a key lime pie in our immediate future.

Happy New Year! May it be filled with wonder and prosperity.