Monday, August 30, 2021

a post that isn't about work or art or food

We didn't get any rain last Wednesday after all, but we did get some Thursday night. I woke up to lots of rumbling out there but never heard the rain. Turns out it was barely enough to get the ground wet.

My neighbor and his son built a huge burn pile last Friday. He cuts my next door neighbor's yard and he finally got tired of ducking under all the low hanging branches and took his machete and started hacking away. The neighbor whose yard it is was out the next morning trying to torch it. Mostly all he got was a column of smoke because it's all still green and it quickly died out. Hard to tell from the picture but that pile is taller than an average sized man.

I think I've mentioned that I am not an early riser and this morning I slept even later than usual waking only when the pill alarm for my afib meds went off but I was up early enough the other morning to see the glass totems lit up by the red orange rising sun.

I had thought I would get outside and take care of some of the yard work this weekend that's been piling up, but Sunday I'm going with my daughter to Austin to pick up Autumn and taking her to San Antonio to stay with her sister Jade until Autumn leaves for Ecuador for her semester studying abroad and apparently all I'm doing on Saturday is this...

There was a little excitement leaving yoga class at Hesed House on Thursday. A trailer came unhitched from the truck pulling it and it rolled back and into a light pole breaking the pole. Fortunately, it was caught by some other lines and didn't come crashing to the ground breaking and whipping hot wires into the foliage around it.

As mentioned above, I joined my daughter on the road trip on Sunday to Austin and San Antonio and back home. Unknown to me until we got to Austin was that we were meeting up with my nephew and his wife and their toddler as well as my sister-in-law in town from Dallas and, of course, Autumn, for brunch/lunch, an unexpected pleasant surprise. And then we gathered the rest of Autumn's things and drove to San Antonio and had a nice long visit with Jade and we left both girls about 6:30 and headed home. Did I take a single picture? No, I did not. I did have a good time spending the day with Sarah, something that happens rarely, she is so busy with work and the continued building going on on their property and the management of her family. She and Mike had a year of an empty nest and now their youngest is back living with them as well as their oldest and his pregnant girlfriend and their two big dogs. So now they have 5 adults and a baby on the way, four dogs, and four cats living in their 3 bedroom house. Hence the plans for expansion.

My zinnias finally started blooming, the ones that survived anyway but the orange cosmos still has not beyond a handful of flowers. Here's a few random shots of what's blooming.

morning glory bush

yellow bells aka esperanza aka tecoma stans




Friday, August 27, 2021

eight drowned feathers and one drowned frond

I picked up the Z-bar hangers Thursday and attached them with silicone and screws. Now just need to sign them, hang them on the wall to photograph, and the box them up.

And here they are, photos aren't that great as all I have is my iPhone camera and I really need a tripod to keep the camera square and plumb and I had to mess around with the color some . 11" x 11" x ¾"

I might have mentioned that there are four big ones so here's the first two (not on metal)

and the five small paperweight size ones, the longest dimension is about 6".

I'm taking a few days off from the studio to take care of some stuff around here that I've been neglecting, yard work mostly, though today Pam and I are going to two estate sales (no treasures were found today and nothing even worth taking pictures of) and I'm making enchiladas for dinner so that will pretty much be my whole day. I'll probably start packing up the pieces early next week after I try for better pictures.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

a load off my shoulders

Monday I got the glossy clear acrylic, though it took me two stores to find it, apparently our Evil Empire is phasing out the Krylon brand in favor of Rustoleum but fortunately the Sherwin Williams paint store here had it and it was on sale, and tested it out and it's fine but I didn't get the aluminum coated. And I went by the frame shop to order my hangers and while I didn't get the plywood glued to the backs of the aluminum, I did finish lapping the backs of the two glass panels.

Tuesday, was also grocery store day and before that I went back over to the frame shop to take Margaret the screws that I know are the length I need since I forgot yesterday and spent way more time than I have visiting with her and so by the time I got back from the grocery store it was really too late to go over to the shop and get started on anything so I went over and turned on the AC so it would be already cool when I went back over after lunch. 

Well, it was a frustrating day. The Loctite glue I decided to use is not usable, at least not by me. I bought two small tubes, opened one to glue the wood to the back of the aluminum and I couldn't get it out of the tube! I'm squeezing with all the strength I can and managed to extrude about 1/2” but as soon as I relaxed my grip, most went back in the tube. OK, I told myself, must be an old tube so I opened the other one. Same deal, no way to squeeze out a line. So I ended up using the GE silicone (5X stronger!) for the wood to aluminum with one dot of the Locktite in each corner. I could probably use the GE for the glass to metal but I can't find any info on shear strength for the product, so I did some more research and decided on Liquid Nails FUZE-IT 'all surface, bonds almost everything' with it's 400 pound shear strength to hold up my 4 lb 6 oz piece of glass.

I did get the aluminum coated with the glossy acrylic.

So today, Wednesday, I made another trip to the Evil Empire, not expecting them to have the Liquid Nails because they hardly ever have what I'm looking for, and miracle upon miracle, they did have it. And now the glass is bonded to the aluminum and judging by how much effort it took to make minor adjustments to the position, that glass isn't going anywhere. I can't believe how much better, lighter, I feel! Still no pictures yet, waiting for it to set and need the hangers which I will pick up tomorrow.

The angel trumpet is out of the kiln, plaster removed, had its vinegar bath. It's very rough looking right now pre the finish work. Not enough color in the leaf and the shading didn't come out as smooth as I wanted. Hard to tell about the shading in the flower, some of the more subtle effects don't show up until the finish work is done but I'm not sure it shows up. I didn't have quite enough glass, a little dip on the backside and definitely not enough white as the very last layer as it contracted a bit and doesn't go edge to edge. This is what happens when two years go by without doing any casting. I consider this a warm-up, remembering.

Tuesday night I made a big salad for dinner...spinach, baby lettuces, celery, dried cranberries, pecans, mandarin oranges, granny smith apple, pasta, and feta cheese.

The really hot high 90˚s, maybe even triple digits, they were forecasting for this week has not materialized. High today is supposed to be 94˚ and after that the next 10 days range from 88˚ – 92˚. Late summer signs are appearing. The clump of pampas grass at the other end of the street is putting out its blooms, the snow-on-the-prairie is blooming in the pastures, the tallow trees have been dropping old leaves for weeks.

Well, it's very dark out there in the distance, and rumbly and the wind is picking up though the sun is still shining above my house. I hope we get some rain out of it.

Monday, August 23, 2021

almost done

I made it to Lowe's Saturday and came back with a piece of plywood, an assortment of adhesives, flat clear coat for the aluminum (it doesn't rust or tarnish but it does degrade over time), and what they call 'french cleats' in the picture hanging section. Not sure I want to use them as the shape is a little weird so I'll probably go to the frame shop here on Monday and get some of the heavy duty Z-bar she uses which is what I've been using to hang my work. All unused items will be returned to Lowe's. I'm glad I didn't leave any later to head out because as I encountered one short slow down from the continuing construction between here and Rosenberg, on the way back I saw that it was now backed up really far and glad I wasn't stuck in it.

And the first trumpet flower piece went in the kiln Saturday. It will be 5 days before I get a peek at how it turned out.

So Sunday, I tested out the flat clear coat on the small sample of aluminum the guy at the metal shop gave me and I didn't care for it. Definitely like the shine on the aluminum even though only about a half inch all the way around will show so back to the store for some gloss clear coat and test that out. I cut and sanded two pieces of 1/4” plywood to go between the glass and the aluminum to 'float' the glass above the metal and two larger pieces for the back of the aluminum that the hanger will be fastened to but after stacking everything up, I think I like the glass panels directly on the metal instead of floating above it. So then I used the manual flat lap to rough up the backs of the two glass panels and flatten them as they aren't perfectly flat on the back (they're better but they still need some more work). Then I decided which adhesive I'll use, the super industrial strength Loctite which specifically mentions glass, wood, and metal. I also carefully opened the package of one of the 'french cleats' from the picture hanging department and while it says it supports up to 75 pounds I didn't care for the design which sticks out from the wall farther and the top piece only sits about 1/4” deep in the bottom channel. So Monday I'll head over to the frame shop here and get Margaret to cut me 4 six inch lengths of the Z-bar.

french cleat or 'z-bar', bottom piece goes on the wall, top piece goes on the panel

Today I plan to get the clear coat and test it and then coat the metal and finish lapping the panels.

Hopefully Tuesday I'll glue it all together and attach the hanger (with glue and screws) on Wednesday, give it a week to cure, then box it up and ship it out.

This week we will be having our hottest temps yet, maybe even break into triple digits. Still not a single flower on my morning glory vines but I'm not the only one! A FB group about Texas flora had a post about theirs not blooming either and so many replied with the same thing. The general consensus was that all the rain washed away whatever minerals they need to bloom. This little succulent is blooming though.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

busy day, more progress, dinner

Thursday at SHARE was so busy! Last week we were supposed to get our food delivery from the food bank in Victoria but they somehow neglected to put our order on the truck. Anyway, it arrived Thursday and while I was packing all the bread into the chest freezer we started getting food clients. I was like 4 orders behind before I even started refilling the baskets and it just kept going. We had something like 19 clients and most were big families. I guess stopping the enhanced unemployment early in our state (just one of the many mean spirited things our governor does) has had an effect on people's ability to buy food.

First thing Thursday morning I got a text from the metal fabricating guy that yes, he had a drop off, the pieces were cut, he filed the edges to get rid of burs and they were ready to pick up. So I stopped by and got them on my way home from SHARE. Took them over to the shop after lunch, put the glass on for a quick peek, and I'm very happy with the look. Then I cleaned up the second trumpet flower mold and got my volume measure and put it aside until I get these two drowned feather pieces mounted and photographed and sent off to the gallery. After that I cleaned up the mold making table. And then I laid down for a half hour or so until time to leave for yoga class. A full busy day.

Friday Pam and I went to an estate sale 70% of which was holiday oriented. These people loved to decorate for holidays, and bake cakes for same. There were indoor and outdoor decorations for Christmas and Halloween, of course (these two had the lion's share of decor), but also Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day, Valentines day (it just occurred to me I didn't see anything specifically for Easter). And wreaths, lots of big gauzy wreaths and a few other oddball items.

not even all the cake pans

about a fourth of the outdoor decorations...maybe

Then I worked on the aluminum squares sanding the outer perimeters about 2” all the way around to give them an even finely textured look.

And then since it was my turn to cook dinner (I'm taking over two nights a week) that's what I did. I had half a link of already cooked venison and pork sausage from the night before so I sliced that up, peeled and boiled about a pound of potatoes and par boiled them long enough to cube them up, chopped an onion and garlic cloves, and sliced up half a head of cabbage. Sautéed the onions and garlic in olive oil and butter, added the potatoes and continued to cook them until done and browned, added the sausage to warm it up, and then 2 T water and the cabbage and stir and cover, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is cooked to taste. Doesn't take long.

Today head to Lowe's and/or Home Depot to get a small piece of 1/4” plywood, peruse the adhesives and pick one, and get a strip of french cleat/z-bar to finish mounting the two feather pieces for the show for hanging.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

work stuff and dinner

Monday I got all the rest of the frit in the big flower and ready for the background color which I still had not decided on. Sometime during the night I woke up with the the answer. I guess my mind had been noodling on it while I slept. I chose a color called olive smoke. I didn't want to use a blue which would have been my go to because the chemicals in some of the blues react with the chemicals in some of the yellows to produce a brown wherever they touch. I could have covered all the yellow with a thin layer of clear which would prevent that from happening but that would have been another whole day's work. Anyway, I think it will look fine with the color I chose.

Tuesday was grocery store and then back in the shop, got the background color in 

and then the rest of the glass, a clear layer and a final white layer. So now it's ready to go in the kiln.

Here's my work table.

Just some of my 355 color samples, these are mixed transparent colors. I also have mixed combinations of opaques, opaques and transparents (like the sand mixtures), pure color samples of all the transparents, opaques (frit and powder), and of the modeling glass.

All my frit and powder. There's also a table in the shop full of large containers of some of these colors. I will never use all this, I will never use most of this in what's left of my lifetime. I could probably winnow out at least a third of the transparent colors that I never or rarely use because they are so dense they just look black but I like having the option, a complete palette.

transparent colors on the right, opaque colors on the left

I checked with one of the metal shops here and got a sample of 1/8” aluminum and I think I like it with the feather pieces. I have to let the guy know so he can check and see if he has a drop off big enough to cut two 11” squares, otherwise I'd have to buy a whole sheet and that would be very expensive. So I'm waiting to hear about that.

And then I fixed dinner Tuesday night, tried my hand at another pastie only this time I did one big one instead of four little ones like last time. Same basic ingredients...shredded leftover roast and pork chop, onion, garlic, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, potato...a little bit of everything cleaning out the crisper in the fridge. This one came out better. The first time the filling was a little dry so this time I added some of my frozen tomato juice cubes which was perfect. Sort of like a pot pie only without the pot. Small disaster though, once I spooned the filling onto the pie crust and folded it over it split along the fold so I cut a section off the other pie crust (I buy them ready made, 2 to a package) and patched the split.

More finish work on the drowned feather piece Wednesday while Marc made the other trumpet flower mold. Worked on the rocks with the fine polishing point, and the feather, and the edges. Hot and sweaty work but getting there. the gray powder I laid down first in the feather really doesn't show except in certain light and certain angle, neither does the gray I used in the quill. Though I supposed those shadows are really the gray powder, just not as apparent as I had intended.

I'm pretty single minded right now, nothing else to post about besides work but that will change as soon as I get finished for the show. I'll still be working, just not to the exclusion of all else.

Monday, August 16, 2021

more progress, 45 years, and republican hypocrisy

I started filling the first trumpet flower mold on Saturday. I know the glass in the leaf looks very blue but the colors will mature in the kiln to be more green (and there is a layer of darker green underneath that light colored layer) though I did select greens in the bluer range.

I think I mentioned that as the glass frit melts it reduces in volume as the air gets pushed out and so I have to build up the color at least as high as the void is deep. It's the gum arabic that I use that makes it all sticky and stick together so that I can build it up. There are other 'sticky' additives I could use like CMC, a cellulose product, or white glue or even corn syrup but I've always used a dilute solution of gum arabic to make my 'paste' or slurry with the frit.

We've been without rain long enough now that I have to start watering the gardens. I spied this pearl crescent on the rudbeckia on Saturday

as well as this little katydid on the althea, or rose of sharon.

While I'm still seeing a multitude of toads of all sizes, I'm not seeing any little frogs which is unusual especially with all this rain we've had but I do hear them singing at night.

Saturday was our 45th wedding anniversary. Forty five years I've lived with this man, more than half my life. Our usual celebration is a movie and dinner out but that didn't happen this year or last. Instead we considered buying a new BIG TV which we ultimately didn't pursue, at least not yet. Getting a bigger TV would entail rearranging not just the pictures on the wall but the furniture as well in the living room. What precipitated the idea was that the screen on our current 32” TV (the largest one that will fit in our cabinet) died Friday night basically turning the TV into a radio. Out came the old 22” TV which still works fine and has a screen that diminishes glare, unlike the bigger one. We're just not big TV people. We were trying to remember why we bought the bigger TV when the small one still worked fine. I guess we just wanted a bigger screen, I said. That doesn't sound like us, he replied.

Sunday's progress.

After I finish this mold I'll need to concentrate on finishing the feather piece. It will only take a couple of sessions to finish the cold work, figuring out how to display them will take longer. I have to have the work at the gallery by the 10
th so I've got about 3 weeks to finish.

And the US is withdrawing from Afghanistan. Because unlike Trump, Biden honors agreements made by his predecessors, Trump's much ballyhooed by republicans peace deal with the Taliban, releasing 5,000 hardcore Taliban prisoners in exchange for them not killing anymore Americans with a withdrawal date of May 1st this year (and let us not forget Trump invited the Taliban to Camp David 3 days before 9/11). Since Biden was a bit busy the first half of this year, the withdrawal is just now taking place. And the press and the republicans are having a field day, blaming Biden for Trump's mess. Even Trump himself has joined in while the republicans are trying to scrub the internet of their previous support for the end to our occupation in Afghanistan. Make no mistake, I'm in favor of this withdrawal. It's been 20 years. For 20 years we have protected Afghans, propping up their government, and training a 300,000 member army and outfitting them with our equipment. The time would come eventually for the Afghans to stand up and take responsibility for their own country, government, and society. Well, that time is now and what did the Afghan army do? They laid down their weapons and fled, they made backroom deals with the Taliban, they gave our military gear to the Taliban, they turned their country over without a fight. The videos widely circulating of the hoard of Afghan men running after and clinging to an air force plane as it takes off is wrenching, reminiscent of our departure from Viet Nam, but not for the reasons given, an abandoned people desperate to flee. What I see is a hoard of Afghan men trying to escape, abandoning their women and children to the hands of the Taliban.

This was always going to end this way. We have never learned that we can't import or impose western culture, society, government on a people whose religion, culture, and tribalism is thousands of years old and diametrically opposed to the West. We should have left long ago.

Friday, August 13, 2021

progress and clouds

Here's the cartoon for the luna moth piece. It's not really a drawing but a pattern for cutting out the layers of wax for the model. It will be much simpler than the angel trumpet models; one layer for the leaves and caterpillar and two for the moth. This one will be 6” x 8”.

And here's the detailed drawing of the luna moth, also a pattern.

I haven't worked on the drowned feather piece again because other chores got in the way, like going to the grocery store on Tuesday and making a trip into Rosenberg to the liquor warehouse on Wednesday while Marc made the first of the angel trumpet molds. And a mountain of plates and silverware took up my time between lunch and yoga. And Thursday at SHARE though I did clean up the mold and did my volume measure that afternoon.

Also Thursday Marc got the cracked hose bib off the rest of the contraption and replaced it with a new one but now the converter piece that allows me to attach the outside hose to the hose bib is missing, I've looked all over the shop, the studio, the garage, and even in the house to no avail. So now I have to go out and get a new one of those (which I did but it took me two stores to find it).

Friday I selected my colors (and color combinations) and so now I'm ready to begin filling the first trumpet flower mold.

Then I worked out in the yard for about an hour and when I came in I was totally drenched with sweat from working in the shade! And believe it or not I set up the sprinkler in one of the flower beds.

And it is August on the Texas Gulf Coast Plains. UGH. Hot and humid, the sky filled with puffy clouds which are quite beautiful as long as you're looking at them from inside an air conditioned space or as you dash from one place to another. Though really it hasn't been as hot as it could be, all this regular rain has kept temps in the low 90s.

And the rangoon creeper.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

starting the finish work, a garden disappointment, and a garden surprise

Yesterday I started the finish work on the drowned feather piece. My intention was to use the upright grinder to even out and smooth the edges first but after I got the water hooked up and turned on the valve  between the hose and the wire mesh hose that attaches to the hood over the diamond grinding wheel and squirts water on the grinding wheel to keep the glass from overheating and the glass dust out of the air, water started spewing out from the valve. Upon inspection, the hose bib/valve has a big split in it, apparently another casualty of the deep freeze. Well, that's just great. Unhooked everything and so far Marc hasn't been able to get the damn thing off. 

the valve is the hose bib in the picture, the outside hose attaches to the hose bib with a converter piece that's already been removed

So instead of doing that, I started on the surface with the medium polishing point using the Foredom. 

I've made the first pass over all the rocks. And now I need to go to the plumbing supply and get all new parts so I can hook the water up to my grinder.

Sunday I worked on the drawing some and I'm starting to get it down on paper, made a little mockup of the size and shape of the glass out of foam core and slid it into the stand to see how the shape and proportion worked and I was happy enough with that.

Then I vacuumed the bedroom and swept the in house work room.

And I worked on the drawing more yesterday afternoon, one more element to add in.

This has been a weird year in the garden...a very early heat wave, the deep freeze, and then rain, rain, rain. You might remember I planted 6 morning glory seeds early spring and they grew very sluggishly for months. Well, about a month ago they really took off and here's what the vines looks like now and I have not gotten one single flower. Not one! And here it is August.

And really, nothing is doing well. The orange cosmos aren't even blooming except for a scarce few. Also, I've noticed several shrubs that have dying branches on them. One good surprise though. I had reported the few things that didn't come back after the deep freeze one of them being the star of india gardenia tree/shrub. It had been in a big pot which I didn't empty til May and all the roots inside were mush. Well, apparently it had sent roots into the ground through the bottom of the pot which I did not realize and I noticed a few days ago that it had come back in the same place the pot had been. It's about a foot tall now.