Monday, August 19, 2019

the doldrums of August

I finished the second heron box model Saturday. It's glued down and waiting for the mold to be made. I found the timesheet for the first one...27+/- hours. I didn't keep track this time but I think it went faster especially since I didn't carve the wavy lines like before but incised them instead and scraping more lines in between with a wire brush. Still, it took me a week. 

I like it in wax.

I didn't keep track of my time this time because I've decided to stop doing that. The point was to help me come up with pricing but in reality, it only made me realize how little I get when a piece sells because you can't price artwork by how much time you have in it unless you are one of those artists who have people clamoring for your work.

After I finished the box wax I sorted through my color samples and picked out three dark blue ones 

and then tweaked the formulas for nine new samples which went in the kiln yesterday. And as long as I was at it, I made pure color samples of the 7 colors I have acquired since the last time I did this. I meant to take a picture after I had filled all the little squares with frit but forgot. Here's my set-up though. 

The two sections on pieces of firebrick are tilted up at an angle so I'll get a sample that is thin at one end and thick at the other. At least that's the plan. The kiln was 130something˚ when I looked at it a little while ago.

And here they are out of the kiln.

Nothing much else going on around here. Still hot, flirting with near triple digits, still no rain despite the scant 1/4” we got the other day and were getting into the first stages of drought, still going out and watering first thing in the mornings and usually in the evenings as well, still trying to keep all three bird baths filled with fresh water.

The white wing doves hang out at the one in the little backyard, just to the left out of sight in this picture.

Saturday I caught sight of one of the local red shouldered hawks perched on the naked lady's head but it flew off before I could get the camera up for a sneak pic through the door glass.

Friday, August 16, 2019

collections and obsessions

Still working on the wax box getting the wavy lines incised. I got them too deep on the face of the box as the wax was softer. Not sure what I'm going to do about it. Maybe fill them in and start over. Might finish today.

Yesterday was estate sale day and my sister and I went to one of the more interesting ones. This was a small old room, dining room, kitchen, utility room (where the bathroom was located) and two bedrooms. You had to walk through one bedroom to get to the other one which was filled with cameras! Film cameras and lenses and attachments and dark room stuff and plates and I don't know what all, well over 100 cameras and the woman who does these estate sales says this isn't even all of them. Plenty more in the garage, she says, which she won't give access to til next weekend.

And then there was the skunk collection. This is only one of three groupings of skunk figurines.

And the glass collection, also just one of the tables with this stuff on it.

But my favorite were these little metal miniatures, all 2” - 3” tall with moving parts.

This last picture was at a different estate sales months ago but just thought I would tag in on here.

galoshes for horses

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

anniversary, wax, and yard stuff

Today is our anniversary. 43 years. Over half my life, 3 years shy of 2/3 of my life. In reality it's about 86 years since we have lived and worked together for all that time. No gimme a kiss, have a nice day at work, see you when you get home; our marriage has been 24/7. We may or may not do something. Our go to celebration for things like anniversaries and birthdays is a movie and dinner out but there's not a movie we are anxious to see and local places for dinner out aren't exactly exciting.

What I've been doing this week is remaking the wax model for the box. I poured all my slabs last Sunday, Monday I planed them all down to the correct thickness, 

yesterday I fabricated the box out of the slabs. 

Today or tomorrow I'll fill in the joins on the sides and make repairs to the outside and add the wavy lines and texture and then it will be ready for a second attempt. Still have to do some color samples.

The other thing I've been doing is watering the flower beds. I get up and go outside and water about a third of the yard, come in, have my coffee and then breakfast and then get started on whatever. In the evening I'll water another section of the yard but it doesn't seem to be making much difference. It is so hot that even the sun loving zinnias go into serious wilt by the end of the day and I water them every day! I may have to drag out the shade cloth til this heat breaks. Dog walks are short with no socializing as everyone and their dog is hunkered down inside. Neighbor Gary who generally takes his evening walk about 5 PM has been waiting til 7 PM to venture out. The only thing that seems unfazed by this heat are the plumerias and the mexican bird of paradise 

and the morning glory bush over at the shop. I don't water it at all and it's been gorgeous.

Minnie is convinced throughout the day that she wants to go outside 

until she actually gets outside. She lays in the sun for a few minutes and then retreats to the garage waiting for me to get through with whatever I'm doing watering though the other day I heard her barking hysterically and when I went to investigate I saw she had treed a young raccoon.

Well, I'd best get to work if I want to make any progress today.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

one disaster led to another

My luck ran out and that disaster of a mold produced a disaster of a casting. No amount of cold work can make this usable. I'm not sure why it cast so badly, need to consult with my gurus. If I want to make this piece, I have to start over with a new wax model for the box. I've already pulled out my drawings and made a list of sizes for the wax slabs. I'll start on those tomorrow while I'm grinding away on the heron head and the egg. After another hour and a half yesterday morning I freed the sticks. It was after I came back from that that Marc showed me the box. Well, I know a few things I'll change. The color for one. I like it but not enough contrast with the heron. I'll go darker blue. And no billet. From what I can see, I don't like it. I think I'll do some color samples, see if I can come up with a combination with enough of what I have on hand. I may also not carve the wavy lines if I can come up with a texture I like  or do them differently because I'm not sure I like them.

As mentioned, I finished taking all the excess glass off the sticks.

This morning I got up at 7 AM, went out and watered for 45 minutes and then went over to the shop where I set up and poured the wax for four of the six slabs I need to remake the model

and used the ring saw to cut off most of the extra glass on the heron head inlay 

and then ground off some of the thickness. Came back to the house at 9 AM for my coffee and then back to the shop about 45 minutes later where I used a different machine to grind off the excess glass on the egg and then finished it off on my make-shift flat lap, back to the house for Sunday brunch at 11:30 AM and then back to the shop to set up and pour the wax for the last two slabs and the 1/8” thick sheet and back to the house at 1 PM.

So yeah it's hot and we've exceeded the high 90s forecast and have hit triple digits and I may be done for the day, except for maybe doing the dishes that I've been ignoring while I've been working over at the shop the last three days (and no, I'm not going to show you a picture of my messy kitchen) but not for a while yet.

Friday, August 9, 2019

working in the heat

It is so hot and humid out there I can/will only work outside for about half an hour and that's in the shade! The south wind coming off that field behind us is like standing in front of  a hair dryer on high. I finally got all the gone by easter lilies cut back and I was soaked with sweat by the time I finished, had to peel my clothes off me. Now I'm working on taking out a small flower bed around a tree along the driveway that I put in years ago that was too hard to maintain and it has gone to weeds and wild fall asters, cutting that shit to the ground and reclaiming the paver bricks that border it. Took two days to get this much done.

There's another area at the back of the property that I am trying to do the same thing to. It's the old burn pile turned brush pile that these 10' tall weeds have grown up around while the brush pile has composted down. I want to get rid of the whole thing and start mowing over that area.

I haven't been over at the shop to start the cold work yet because we are having some of our hottest temperatures so far, high today of 97˚ and the rest of this week and 98˚ half of next week and the chance of rain in the single other words no chance of rain. I can't imagine how hot it is in that metal shop building even with all the bay doors and the two measly windows open. I may have to start getting up really early gasp! I suppose I ought to get out my model making stuff and/or the modeling glass and start on the next piece I have in mind.

So that was yesterday. This morning I got up an hour early and went across the street to the shop and worked over there for about an hour and a half but not on the glass pieces. That shop is such a mess, I haven't even so much as hosed down the floor after the flood. My neighbor has a workbench to give me and I want to use it for my cold working since right now my setup is very makeshift (also since the flood) so I went over there and rearranged the kilns so I could pull out the big A-frame on wheels that we used to move glass around during our etched glass days. It's going to be dismantled since we don't need two keeping the smaller A-frame on wheels that will fit in the back of the truck. So I pulled the big one out of the single bay parking it by the sandblast booth and then I moved the smaller one from the double bay into the single bay and then moved the kilns back where they were which gave me more room in the double bay for the new worktable. Then I hosed the floor down in the half of the double bay where my cold work stuff is set up, sweeping all the water and muck from the flood out and pulled out a metal shelving unit and hosed it down too. I want to bring that over to the house as I need more shelving as long as I'm working over here and not in the shop.

Still have not ground a single bit of glass. Maybe later, maybe tomorrow. But that hour and a half this morning was enough for my hair and the crotch of my shorts and my panties to be soaked with sweat.

Well, as it turned out, I went back over there after breakfast and worked for about 2 hours grinding excess glass off the sticks. I cut as much off with the ring saw as I could but I still have at least another hour and probably more before I get it all off so that just the sticks remain. I'll give it another go tomorrow morning.

This is a piece of 1/2” glass with 60 mesh silicon carbide (very hard, very sharp) and water to make a slurry on which I use a circular motion to slowly grind off the excess glass on the bottom. When the sludge of glass builds up too much it has to be cleaned off and fresh grit sprinkled on. The sludge can be rinsed out and the grit used over and over but eventually the plate glass has to be replaced because it gets ground down as well and will become slightly concave over time and use.

It wasn't really terrible over there while I was working, I had the windmaker fan blowing on me, or didn't seem so at the time. But that three and a half hours, even split up with AC time in between, just about wiped me out. I had thought I would start emptying the bookcase so I could move it to the back bedroom and make room for the metal shelving unit but I'm thinking I'll go settle down on the couch with my current book.

I might even take a nap.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

more work on the heron box

I've reassembled the mold for the box part of the heron piece, you'll remember it had broken in three pieces, and I'm ready to start filling it with glass.

you can see along the inside edge of the mold at the top some of the damage that it sustained

with the reservoir on top

I'm going to use some billet and some frit. 

frit left, billet right; same color

The difference between billet and frit is not just that one is solid and the other is crushed but also the amount of air that gets trapped and the resultant 'cloudiness'. A nice solid piece of glass will melt and not trap any air giving the piece clarity. Frit will trap zillions of air bubbles throughout the piece, the smaller the grain size, the more air trapped, giving the piece a more translucent look. So while I have cast a piece using all billet and pieces using using all frit I have never cast a piece using both so I have no idea, no vision in my head, how it will look re the intensity of the color and the amount of clarity or how even those qualities will be throughout, though since every surface of the box will have come in contact with the mold surface or been ground down, no part of it will have the smooth shiny surface of the billet. I finally settled on these percentages: 1/4 gray blue billet, 1/4 clear medium frit, and 1/2 gray blue fine frit, a little less than 6 1/2 pounds.

I didn't think all the glass was going to fit in the mold and reservoir but it did (that dark color in the center is the billet pieces peeking through) and now it's in the kiln. Won't know how it comes out til Monday, maybe.

This is the biggest box I've attempted so far. I've done them with the same length and width but not nearly as deep or if as deep then not nearly as long. The other components have been cast and washed but no finish work done on them yet and I still have to fix the piece for the top. The egg and sticks cast perfectly! Yay!

And the heron head inlay came out well I think except for the end of the beak which is not under fired but a form of devitrification, so one of my gurus tells me, probably because of too wet a mold, packed in too tight, too much intermingling of the silica in the glass and the silica in the mold. I'm hoping some cold work will remedy it good enough and I can avoid re-firing it.

All that glass that isn't egg or sticks or heron head has to be cut or ground off.

I'll be spending weeks on that part which is the cold work, the grinding off of excess glass, softening rough spots, and smoothing out all the surfaces. It will be anything but cold as I'll have to do that work over at the shop in, of course, the hottest part of the summer.

Monday, August 5, 2019

death in America

Three shootings in a week. Thirty three people dead. Thoughts and prayers from Republicans. Demands for gun control and gun safety from Democrats. All guns all the time folks claim more guns in the populace would have prevented it. Except. Except there were 'good guys with guns' at the Walmart who not only did not stop the shooter, they fled, and the police weren't sure who the shooter was because of open carry. Except the shooter in Dayton killed and wounded those people in less than a minute. The police responded in 20 seconds, shot him dead in less than a minute but 9 people were still dead and 26 wounded. No good guy with a gun on the scene could have stopped that. Republicans: it's not guns, it's mental illness. It's not guns, it's video games. It's not guns, it's no prayer in school. It's not white supremacy rhetoric, it's absentee parents. Democrats: It's the GUNS stupid, other nations have mentally ill citizens, play video games, don't pray in school and they do not suffer gun violence. Meanwhile Trump golfs, McConnell issues a statement about how horrified he is but not horrified enough to bring the gun safety bills passed by the House to the floor of the Senate. Wash, rinse, repeat.

And then there is the guy who thinks every public place should have an armed 'discreet' professional security force I thought that's what the police were for like his church has, proud of the fact that he thinks his church is well protected. I can remember an America when we didn't need private security forces, discreet or otherwise, to feel safe in America from Americans.

Just another week in America, the country that loves it's guns more than it's children with a government controlled by Republicans, the party that loves it's NRA money more than protecting Americans, the party that allows the very people they accuse, the mentally ill, to buy whatever guns they want, led by a president that demonizes certain Americans and laughs when his supporters yell 'shoot them'.

We have a chance in November 2020 to put an end to this. If we don't, we may never get another one.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

short stories # whatever

Well, for good or ill the next two molds are in the kiln. Now to reassemble the mold for the box itself and add glass. I had planned to use billets (solid slabs of glass) instead of frit (crushed glass) to fill that one for a couple of reasons...I don't have enough of any one color in frit that I would want to use and I do have billets in two colors to choose from. Were the mold all in one piece it would have been no problem. It may still be no problem. We'll see.

heading up to casting temperature


The reason I didn't get any work done on the stick mold Wednesday is because I had my follow-up appointment after the ablation for the flutter. I've been keeping track of the instances of irregular heartbeat (the afib) over the past 5 weeks like I did the preceding months only these were just little flips that would happen for a short time or off and on all day but they gradually lessened and then skipped a day and then skipped a couple of days until the last week when I didn't notice anything at all. I had maybe 3 or 4 episodes during that time of what I consider afib but they were less severe, lasting for a shorter period of time. The doctor looked over my list, said we may have to do the afib ablation since the medication was controlling it but not preventing it altogether but let's see how it is in another 3 months, what's happening is not life threatening and I'm protected from stroke as long as I continue on the holy fucking cow this shit is expensive eliquis. With my Medicare and supplemental policy's online pharmacy it's costing me about $85 a month. If I had no insurance at all and had to buy it over the counter it would cost over $400 a month and I wouldn't be taking it. It's still pricey at $85 a month and did you hear that that horrible man in the White House has appointed Alex Azar, ex-president of Eli Lily who tripled the price of insulin, as the new HHS secretary who has voiced his opposition to lowering drug prices to oversee...lowering drug prices. Anyway if the doctor hadn't suggested waiting, I would have. The condition is so much improved and I feel so much better and even if this is as good as it gets on the medication, I'm good with that. It's going to have to get as bad as it was pre-ablation for the flutter for me to consent to the afib ablation.


Last week I was contacted via email from my website by a gallery which does the four major art fairs including SOFA (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art) which we did for 3 years back before the great recession with another art gallery. She praised our work, wanted to showcase  it, they've received awards and pride themselves on their relationships with their artists, etc. and please reply back and she would have her partner and show producer get back with me with more information. So I looked at their website. They list 70 painters, 12 multimedia artists, there are a couple of other categories, and sculpture with 10 artists only two of which seem to work with glass. I responded but I told her the truth, that I would like more information but that I wasn't very prolific, that the work was time consuming, small, all one of a kind, and pricey and that I wasn't in a position to incur any costs beyond shipping my work out. Some of the galleries that do those art fairs want their participating artists to help bear the cost of doing the fair as well as getting a percentage of the sale of the artist's work and I figured I would just head that off at the pass if that's what they had in mind by 'more information'. We'll see if they contact me again, so far, not.


My iMac is old, probably 10 years at least and it's got some foibles, mainly, the upper left hand corner gets really really hot which sometimes makes it slow but which has also fogged up a portion of the screen in that corner. I have to put it to sleep regularly so it will cool off. It's been a problem for at least a year but it used to happen only now and then. Now it happens every time it's on and active. And a month or so ago my fancy little bluetooth swipe up/down/sideways mouse stopped moving the cursor and last week or so it started doing something else weird mainly on the FB site. After FB loaded the screen would go white. I could refresh a couple of times to get it visible again but sometimes I just had to put it to sleep and wait til it cooled off. Then it happened to my blog. OK, this is bad. Not the blue screen of death...yet, but can't be good. The last time my computer died I lost everything on it, all my pictures, some apps, documents, etc. because I didn't have an external hard drive for backup. I still don't or didn't. Monday I asked Marc to research external hard drives, he went out on an errand and came back with one so now, at least, if I get the blue screen of death I won't lose anything because it's all backed up. Yay! I do need a new computer, have needed one for a while but what with the heart thing and getting the truck repaired and getting the new gutters up, now is not a good time. Hopefully this one will last a couple of more months.

it's doesn't really show up so you'll just have to take my word for it


You might remember last February the Texas Land Office started accepting applications for their homeowner reimbursement program for repairs from the damage caused by hurricane Harvey for those who spent their own money (not FEMA or other insurance money) and I spent two solid weeks filling out the application and running down all the supporting documents and invoices for money spent and money received from FEMA and finally got it filed, all nearly 90 pages of it. Finally, the first week of May they called me to come in and resubmit the 5 'proofs'...ID, income, ownership, residency, monies received from FEMA (because the TLO got a new computer program) completing phase 1. Phase 2 was to be re-submitting all the invoices for work done and materials bought and documents proving that those invoices had actually been paid. Apparently while waiting to be called in for phase 2 they changed the protocol and last week I got a call to set an appointment to re-submit only those invoices for work done outside the main structure...yard clean up, fence repair, out buildings repaired, off site storage and housing, etc. Since I didn't have any of that done he boosted me straight to phase 3 which is having an inspector come out and make sure the work was really done (because we faked all those invoices and bank and credit card statements?). So Thursday night I got a call from the 'risk' inspector for an appointment next week for him to come out and check the grounds and house for lead contamination and yesterday another call to schedule the damage inspector who is coming today! The guy that called for phase 2 told me they were looking to start dispersing funds by the end of this month so maybe all this effort hasn't been in vain.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

paralyzed with indecision

No, not because of that. It's about the piece I'm working on, the heron box. The only thing that has gone smoothly with this is making the models though I'm sure I griped plenty during that process. The first two pieces cast didn't have quite enough glass in them to the point that one at least will have to be reinvested and re-fired with the appropriate amount of glass. The other, the heron head inlay which otherwise came out good, for some reason the glass in a certain spot didn't quite melt all the way. I think. It may have to be reinvested and re-fired. So now I have to fill the egg mold and the sticks mold. I agonized half a day Tuesday over the egg trying to decide if one of the samples was 'enough' of what I was seeking from it. Finally, fuck it, I just forged ahead and went with it.

I wasn't agonizing just over the egg mold but the sticks mold as well. I agonized over that all fucking day to the point of being paralyzed by indecision. It's not that I've never done sticks before. I have and actually have three left over from other endeavors that I've been including in my agonizing. 

Because I can only guess at the formula that produced them and not because I don't have records, I have notebooks full of records...stick 1, stick 2, stick 3, …, stick 11...but without a picture or a sample piece I don't really know how the formula translates. Was it too pale, too dark, just right? I have a dozen or so colors involved. Ambers, browns, grays, whites.

All day.

Paralyzed with indecision. When I walked the dog I thought I would be better served in casting the box first because if that disaster of a mold in three pieces fell apart in the kiln then all this agonizing would be in vain. Though I suppose I would probably go ahead and cast them anyway. So much has already gone wrong with this piece. Finally that was what freed me. Fuck it. I selected three different grays and clear, two sticks one combo, one stick one combo as well as I can manage since most of the voids to fill with the frit are encased in plaster and I can't see how well they are packed. If they are packed. I'm actually using a pipe cleaner to push the frit into the spaces.

So I finally started on it Tuesday evening (didn't have time to work on it at all yesterday) and plan to finish today, one tiny spoonful at a time.