Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Things doing when under the weather

A week of bronchitis for Orion and me. Finally, though still coughing a bit, we begin to feel like humans again. Finally patiently waiting poppets are on their ways to new places. I caught up on some reading, some television and while sitting with O as he did homework from missed days, I sculpted some new little creatures that need no painting.

Lots of sleep for Orion. Lots of soup for me.

I could sure use a week or so with no new hurdles, but for now will be content to breathe through my nose. I think the hardest part of it was that my brain really wanted to be creative. There my muse was at my door and I didn't have the energy to entertain her. But I made her some tea and gave her a cookie and she promised to come back soon.

I suspect she's never very far away at all.

Hope you're avoiding nasty viruses out there in the real world.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


It's Saturday. The wind is howling and the air is full of sand and bits of bark and leaves. Other debris is caught up in it too, plastic bags that zip around and change directions in the chaos, crows struggling for forward motion and brightly colored bits of paper. Some of it lands in the pool. Occasionally there's a pretty good thud when a limb bangs against the roof. There's a crash as the recycling bin falls and spills its bottles. Everything is seen through a violent confetti.
I've got an edge that comes with not enough sleep. If you've spent a night with a congested child, you know that they wake up panicked because they can't breathe through their noses. And you feel powerless because it's a virus and all you can do is treat the symptoms and offer comfort. And steam. A hot shower or sitting in the steamy bathroom helps him get the air he needs.
Wow. I haven't seen wind like this in awhile. It just ripped a board off our fence and the bottom of the pool is black with dirt and leaves. There's someone else's rug on the deck and now it's loud, loud, loud. I decided to peek out the front door. There are several really large limbs - one too big to be moved without cutting, and the carport shade is nearly ripped away. Funny, the temperature is spring-like. Welcome to the desert.

Aubrey just sent me a beautiful, serene photo of snow. It's as opposite as opposite can be.

Orion and I sit inside, cozy and quiet so he gets enough air. We watch the maelstrom outside, shadows chasing after the clouds so it's dark and light in turn. Not enough air for him, too much outside.

This is our Saturday, so far.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not today

Some days, you won't.

Dr. Seuss was good. Dr. Seuss was wise.

This is the day I won't. Again. I'm still reeling a little from new psychoex weirdness that resulted in a restraining order, then even more weirdness on serving the thing. I'm told that reeling is an appropriate response. It's been somewhat traumatic . And all that goes with.

Add to that a couple of wicked colds for Orion and me and a printer that suddenly died this morning and you've got a day when it

just isn't happening.

I wasted a couple of hours trying to force myself to punch through it. Then I messaged the people who were waiting on things and asked them to wait a little longer. Better at least than spinning wheels the whole day. Now simple things and rest.

I've discovered my favorite cold med is Ferrara Pan RED HOTS. The classics stay with us for a reason.

Don't forget to speak up: Important.

At sunset, I did manage to catch the light playing with my toys. So I know I'm still in here, somewhere. Orion is coughing again. I'm off.

Take care.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nuts and Bolts

Today I have a wicked cold and so does Orion, so we're slogging through it at home. He's playing video games in his room and I'm working on things that need my brain and don't require any sort of bending or moving faster than a snail.

Fortunately, my brain seems to be working fine. Or at least, fine enough.

This is an advantage of working at home. I can fit the task to the day, at least most of the time.

A good enough day to put up these photos I took as I made some clear poppets. Above is what's called an envelope mold. Basically, it's a mold with a cut on one plane that folds shut.

I haven't use the mold in awhile, so I clean it up. I'm out of mold release and right now, it just isn't in the budget, so I use some Chapstick. (I know, it's technically Blistex but that's an exception.)

I could likely write an entire blog on the uses of Chapstick in the studio and out. But I won't, because I'd bet without looking it's already been done.

In this case though, it makes a good mold release, which is pretty much wax in a spray can.

With the stick though, I have to smooth it out so there are no lumps.

Now I mix about an ounce of clear casting resin (nasty stuff---do not attempt without good ventilation, or with a cold) with the appropriate drops of catalyst. Which for me means 4 drops over in compensation for the cold temps and that I want it to cure fast.

I pour the resin to just above the poppet's ruff, which means just under - we're upside down. The fifth space I filled with glass balls as an experiment because I'm a child at heart and can't stand not to play while I work.

While that sets, I hand sculpt some tiny hearts and fire them in the toaster oven. I wouldn't consider larger works in there, but this takes about three minutes at 300 degrees.

Then I paint them.

I'll use a bit of Shoe Goo to affix the hearts inside the mold. Have to make sure the paint on the hearts is absolutely dry and use a tiny amount. Also, have to remember to put them in upside down. :)

I find Shoe Goo to be extremely handy in the studio. While we're on handy studio stuff - rings cut from old stockings make a great substitute for rubber bands. For delicate molds, they can be cut to custom widths to distribute pressure evenly.

They also make good hair ties, bracelets. Or handcuffs.


So. Here are the poppets, freshly de-molded. They'll have flash - the thin bits of resin that seeped into the seams.

Their surfaces will be slightly sticky.

All that has to be cleaned away with the Dremmel and some hand sanding.

While I Dremmel, I drill a hole for the balloon string using a micro drill bit.

I'll put on the first layer of clear glaze and while that dries, I sculpt, fire and paint the heart for the balloon.

Before I fire it, I'll put a small hole in the heart with wire. Saves drilling later.

And here's the finished piece. I don't have any listed right now because, as you can see, they take a lot of time and aren't the sort of thing I can make with a cold. But now you can see how they're made. I like questions, and promise not to think any are silly, unless they are. And if they are, I'll like them anyway.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Sunshine brought us to the park.

It wasn't the palms I wanted, when Orion ran off to play,

but the perfect sycamore,

under which to read

from a book with a made-up map.

I recognize my mother's face in mine,

and the singular light of nine.

And that was a bit of this day. Hope yours was good.


Friday, January 06, 2012

Before There Were Trees

Much of the work today was spent getting to here.

It seems a place worth exploring. I hope to return soon.

There's no alarm in the morning and now I intend to fall asleep reading. Maybe I'll dream of home.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Three Hours

Starting a new assemblage. I took notes as I worked and some photos.

My first choice was a different work, but I'd misplaced the seed pods I wanted for it and, having only limited studio time, I opted to shift gears instead of searching. (I found them later on.)

Every piece begins with an idea.

At this moment, it's more like the pupae of an idea, as yet not named and not fully developed. But I have a good sense of what I want to say. I'll have to trust the details and words to come later. I can, because that's usually the case.
So with that in mind, I gather objects. I have a lot to choose from. I pick things up wherever I go. People send me things too, odd little bits. I'm always thrilled to find a little box or envelope in the mailbox with a bug, bone or odd bit of metal or wood.

Next I'll start to sort the objects into groups. The sorting can be challenging.

My first instinct will be to treat them like specimens, ordered by physical properties/shape/materials.

When I collected seashells as a child, I tended to sort them this way.

The sorting is also governed by visual aesthetics - color and form.

And finally by metaphor, emotion, story.
The sorting isn't so much a means to an end as an exercise. Sorting and handling these things, placing them in relation to other things is part of the process. I find connections between them, become aware of the history behind the objects, some of which are to memories of people and places. Finally I'm able to see them out of context, having no relation to anything I know. That's a tricky part. I can best describe it as being similar to "seeing" an optical illusion. This is the "real" work.
Once stripped of assigned values, the objects become an alphabet, capable of visual stories. It can be overwhelming, but I keep my focus in place. A title would help but I don't have to have one yet. For the moment, I begin to know what fits and what doesn't.

I have to trust my feelings, Luke.

God, I'm such a nerd.

I keep the objects in motion. Eventually groups form- things that want to work together.

It's a process that isn't at all...linear.

I begin to add two dimensional bits to the whole. Bits of hand painted paper.

Prints of paintings, pages from old cookbooks and Galaxy.

All these things are spread over years and geography and exist for various reasons.

The stuff that does it for me, that makes the work feel like play, is finding a way to put these things together so that they make some kind of sense as a whole. Eventually (if I do it right) it will be an odd sort of story. If I do it right, other people will be able to "read" it.

That's it for today. It has to be. It's what I did in the time I had. I reluctantly let it go. There are other things that must be done. I've put this work off for far too long, hoping for a big block of time to devote to it.

That's not my present reality. Those blocks of time don't exist.

So for three hours I completely immersed myself in an embryo of an idea. On the surface, there's nothing to show for the effort, but when I come back, the work will be evident and might even surprise me. We'll see.

Monday, January 02, 2012

January 2

It's Monday but we're sort of half in and out of the holiday still. Tomorrow will start with the 6:30 am alarm and life might seem 'normal' again. I didn't get to read as much over the holidays as I'd hoped, so I'm feeling a little out of that loop too. But I'm always conscious of words. Our English language is ever changing. It should be. It's a living thing, after all. New words are invented with, well, inventions. Old ones become dusty and forgotten. I have my own pet peeves about words. I'm not sure I like how texting abbreviations are infiltrating other forms of communication, including everyday speech. It also seems to me that standards for usage and punctuation are largely ignored. They're there, already.

Possibly 'hear' and 'here' will become interchangeable? But I'm not thinking about that.

This morning I'm thinking of everyday speaking. What is your favorite affirmative? For instance, my number one is, "excellent." (Thank you, Montgomery Burns.) It came about because after nearly a decade of living in California I decided to train myself not to answer with "cool." It was harder than you might think.

What's your word? What it was before? Before that? Do you know when/why it changed?

It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme. But it's a good exercise to think about these little evolutions in communication. I'd like to know about yours. We might learn something.

That said, I'd like to pose an exercise. Substitute other words for your fallback. Yes indeed, this is the nerdiest thing I've asked you to do so far. Maybe.

So what? Your brain is fat and needs the exercise. Mine too. It got lazy over the holidays and might need a little poke in the Broca's.

So substitute another word for your usual fallback. Each time I'm inclined to say "excellent," I'll choose "splendid" or "transcendent" or "exemplary." Or something else that pops up. Which probably won't happen without a little practice, because I'm not quick in that way.

But even thinking of a synonym after the fact is exercise. More like a secret isometric under your desk sort of thing, but some exercise is better than none, even if you've had a candy bar.

I'll try it. Will you? I know. It's a little thing. But then, most of our days are made of little things. Why not this one?

Have an ex...quisite day.