Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lake Tulloch Studies

We went to the lake! It was hot! Visual art makes me not think of words! I took some pretty photos (lakes are photogenic) and so did mom, and then I worked on these studies. Only the tree one is from life, the rest are composites from photos.

This is my favorite. I made it from a picture of Dad and the tent, a picture of Nick and mom and the tent, and a picture of the tent. It required a thumbnail sketch to work out the positioning.
This is better as a photo (it is on my facebook).
A tree

This will look a bit nicer when the ink dries.
Extreme foreshortening is a challenge for me, I have a pencil sketch of this but do not feel confident to ink it.
finger campfire

The lovely, lovely view from the tent.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sculpture 1 Final Piece Painted

Nice, right?
The finish is pretty bad, i don't know how I could have done it better though. It actually evened out a lot when I sponged on thinned down black and then wiped it off.
Top view
Crab side
So. I thought of a thing, then I made that thing nearly exactly. It's a very satisfying thing to be able to do, kind of akin to learning your first language really- it lets you show people "no, look, this is *exactly* what I am thinking of." In the case of this sea creature, ah, it was probably 30 hours of work (plus I did not do my own kiln tending, which is more work that someone did) which was possibly not worth it for the end result. But theoretically, the ability to execute and render concepts is quite powerful.

Sculpture 1 Masks

Made some tiny masks for art class, not an assignment but in order to kill time- we had to be there to dip our lost wax pieces but we had finished all our assignments except those still in the kiln, and also there was no guarantee that we would get to use the kiln this term, because the pieces need to be bone dry to go in which takes a few days, and the kiln was to be loaded the next day. So, we made very small pieces. I had nothing kicking around in my brain, no half concept to flesh out into a little creation, so I very boringly made little faces with slight variations that I reasoned I could paint vibrantly when I was feeling more creative. Today was a day for finishing pieces, and I used my little pieces to test how successful different techniques for applying acrylic paint to bisqueware are. It turns out that if you shellac it first with a spray varnish the clay will not absorb water from the paint and make it blotchy. (I thought we were supposed to shellac after painting). So, I made 5 lopsided little faces. 2 were bad enough to toss (I thought a seahorse nose and a single tentacle for hair would look playfully oceanic but it didn't work) and I don't like the orange one very much but I think three of something has a lot less pressure on each component than 2 does. The antlers are made of twigs that I hotglued into holes. The moon is iridescent.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sculpture 1 lost wax sculpture

Okay. In a six week summer course we have done coil building, slab building, bas relief, plaster molds, 3-d plaster molds (I didn't do one of those), free sculpture, and now lost wax bronze casting. It is so many hours, I barely do other art. The quick pace meant that we had only a morning to do our wax sculptures that we are going to cast. Everyone liked mine. I like mine a lot. I had Carly Simon stuck in my head* the whole time I worked on it.
Hard to tell the scale, isn't it? It's perhaps 7" tall.

I used to make little polymer clay marionettes and sculptures, so this was not the first figure I've sculpted, but in this course I have not done one because I don't know the fundamentals of proportion so I would just disgrace myself in front of the intermediate and advanced students. So, for this, I carefully overemphasized and exaggerated proportions. Then, because wax dips remove material when you leave it in for a while and add it when you dip quickly and let in cool, the original proportions got all changed, and now it looks quite like my proportions if my legs were thinner or farther apart. A classmate asked, "Who is that? Just some random person?" well, yeah, actually. I like my body, I realized today while trying to justify my choice, the way people like their country or their dog. It's nothing special, but it's theirs, so they get attached. Everyone else made very simple sculptures: a star, a mushroom, an acorn, a leaf. And they are kind of nice, but idk, bronze! It is a metal! I felt pressured to come up with something more personally meaningful because metal is so permanent.

This is what it looks like dipped in acid, fine sand, acid, fine sand, acid, and coarse sand.
*Oh dear. I just youtubed this to make sure it was what I was thinking about, and hey, only part of the chorus is about me, the rest is some bs about like clouds.

Sculpture 1: Lost Wax Casting

Bronze casting is quite fun, so far, and a little tricky. Basically you make a wax sculpture, make vents and such from wax, coat it in acidic something and sand, melt out the wax and kiln fire the shell hard, then melt bronze in a crucible and pour it into your mold. It is pretty much the easiest metal mold process ever, but it is still a bit tricky on your first go, even with an instructor and everything in the studio set up really well.

First you ladle out a bit of wax onto the shallow basin of water.
This basin is made from plaster.

Then when it has cooled but not entirely, you pull it out and dry it off, then mold it. We were permitted to use hot water, soldering guns, and I used also dipping it in the wax even though that wasn't suggested. Basically I have played with wax and bees wax and paraffin a number of times, but never such sticky wax or with so many tools.
This is the other form of the wax, which is used for gates, vents, and sprues (I do not know the difference really) as well as for internal armatures. My first go didn't have an armature and the wax had some water in it and was basically just a mess, but on the second try it worked a bit better.
Then you sketch your project on a tracking sheet. This lets the instructor map out where you need vents for the air to escape in order for the bronze to fill the item properly. We also use the sheet to track how the ceramic shell is coming along, since that step happens over several days.

So this is the vat of acid. You have to wear gloves and turn off the mixer and then you dip your item and its whole mold casing thing.

Then you roll your item in fine sand (for the first 2-3 coats of the shell- after that you use coarser sand for strength.). Actually rolling did not work for mine because the vent joins were very small and thus the connection points were thin and weak. So after I resoldered those I just sprinkled with the sand.
Here are some sculptures drying after being dipped and rolled. Mine is on the right. The other ones visible are multiple sculptures sharing one gate because they are quite small and it saves time and bronze.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sculpture 1: Sea Creature Amalgam

I have finished the clay work for my sea creature amalgam. Tomorrow we are having a presentation about glazes, so that will be fun.
Here are all of the glazes shown on little cups. The top two rows are oxidisation fired, and the bottom two are reduction fired. The reduction firing makes a less perfect finish. I don't know which version I will do. I am not very excited by any of these colors. I am interested in raku firing, but apparently it is too dangerous for an elaborate piece, because of the quenching or something. Anyway, I don't think any of those are right. I don't know what I want it to look like. I planned to do it all black but everyone says that I should highlight the details more than that.
I don't know. I think red would be excellent, but the school reds are so brown, I would want a bright red. So I am leaning toward glazing in black with green accents, such as the suckers.
I spent 3 hours today digging out and refining all of those little rectangles. This is a good view of the crab climbing out of it.

I was going to wuss out and not do suckers on the tentacles because it seemed overwhelming, but then I was inspecting the tentacles to see how many suckers I would need and only a few places had the suckered side in view so I only had to do about 12 suckers. And weirdly, they suctioned onto the tool I was sticking them on with.

We are all done with wet clay (THANK GOD) because there are only 2 weeks left in the course. I still have to glaze everything and then we are making a lost wax bronze piece. I am kind of exited but there are so many possibilities that I don't know what to do.

Update: I used slip to paint the claws and crab legs black and the inlay on the body yellow, and the suckers pink. This way, if it comes out badly i can glaze over the whole thing in black.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sculpture 1: student choice

This is what I made on Thursday. I envisioned it being this great celestial/global/starmap/genesis model of creation/lunar/orrery thing, but for some mysterious reason it didn't pan out. The spheres kept sagging from the weight of the clay and after a while I began to suspect I was subconsciously copying my friend's sculpture, which was of a very large peapod.
So I brainstormed this weekend and decided to layer a lot of ocean dweller features onto it, until it was freaking amazing and opulent and creepy. So far everyone has unanimously described it as "cute".

The second I test-fit it on the tentacles I was in love.
Nearly 6 hours of work later, I have this.

I think all of the features are complete but I still have to do textures. I am doing a seahorse based organic but angular windowpane texture on the large globe. So far I have 5 of 30 panels completed. Oooooh noooo it is going to take so long. The divisions are based on where the tentacles lie, but the three evenly spaced lobster claws don't match up and I am just going to have to ignore that. The weird unattached fish item was going to be poking out of the hole but now I think a smaller tentacled item might be best. I have not picked a texture or anything for the small bowl thing at the top.

(Again, not my art, it is from etsy and I did not write down the artist, ugh) I thought some sort of things like this, little feelers or something, but that means I will have to individually attach like 50 little feelers. Oh, wait, I can put its hippo eye in its top of head bowl. Ok.

Sculpture 1: Tiny House

Our second assignment this semester was to make a little model of our houses.
Here is mine. It is awaiting firing. It is a model of Willow House based on the sketch of our house that I like drawing. It is going to be a tealight holder, which will look very cozy I think. "Are you making a haunted house?" asked one of my friends in the class. Ahem.

This is not my work. It is to show how huge everyone made their houses, which made mine look really tiny- it has a footprint that is probably 8x4.

Sculpture 1: Apple

Here is my first art assignment of the semester. It is an apple.

Now, embarrassingly, I did not sign my apple and do not know which one it is. I think it is the one on the left, because the detailing on the bottom matches what I remember doing. However, I did not realize I was making such a straight sided apple. It was an assignment to get us used to having our hands in clay, so I am not sad that mine is lost, it is just careless of me.

Sculpture 1: Bas Relief and simple mold making

A bas relief is a shallow sculpture that is brought to life by bright light- the egyptians used them a lot for this reason. A relief is sort of a cross between drawing (or maybe engraving, but basically a form of drawing) and sculpture. It is pretty challenging, actually, or maybe it's just because I've only tried it once. Basically, all the highpoints have to come to the same level and the low points have to stay at their level. They are really easy to make a mold from for this reason. You just brush on plaster, let it dry, pat on fiberglass dipped in plaster, and then once dry dig out the clay and press new clay in.

I tried to bring an alaska quarter to copy, but since the meter takes 8 quarters I must have put that one in, even though I remember specifically saving it out. I still had several quarters so I used the banner from I think Connecticut and the ship from Florida and made a ship. I have cast 2, then my arms got very tired, and I still have not cast the third (we are required to make three, and I am going to use mine as stepping stones in the garden.)
Here is the plaster mold.

Here is the drying stepping stone. It reads "A sailor needs the sight of the sea" unless this is the one I smoothed out the original words on and etched in "Look Around You". I am actually too tired to flip over to the compose option where I can view it. I have not decided what to etch on the final stone. Maybe a song lyric. Maybe a quote about exploration. OMG! I will put an iceberg in the background and the banner can say "Antarctica was discovered in 1822". Yeah. Pithy.

Okay, and across the bottom: And no one was born there until 1978.

Sculpture 1: seaform item preliminary sketch pages

I realize that I love having pictures of my art on my blog so I can show people it, and look at the progression, but I have not posted any pictures at all lately. I am still doing art, but ceramics take a *long* time to complete because even after you are done sculpting you must wait a few days for it to get bone dry, then a few days for there to be a kiln firing that it fits in, and then you have to glaze it and fire it again. I have no finished pieces so far, although my apple and house (first two projects) should be ready for glazing this week. I took pictures of my little house and in progress shots of my bas relief tile, but now they are not on my camera. I do not know why. So, I am going to post some pictures of the research (kind of) that i am doing for our current project.

So far I have a sad, asymmetrical stack of nearly-spheres.

It looks a bit like this (I unconsciously capitalize the word base because i did for years going to BASE) Basically the weight of it is deforming the spheres, and it is just bad. It is lumpy and heavy and I have abandoned my first several ideas to salvage it. It is about 10 inches tall, and technically hollow except that it has little internal supports and stuff.

So, what I decided to do is give it texture and appendages in the manner of sea creatures.

These are some interesting features of sea creatures. I don't know how they should go on the spheres, but it would be neat to do the small ball in seahorse texture, the next in fish scale texture, the next in sea slug nubs, and then the bottom sort of covered in tentacles and suckers. Then it can have little features on it, such as a ring of claws and I don't know what all.

As I looked for photographs of actual sea creatures I found a number of awesome examples of other artists' sea and aquatic creatures. There was a wonderful sculpture of just the top of a hippo, by diane gilbert, so that it looks like it is submerged when placed on a surface. There was also a steampunk tentacle, and some of that speculative biology art or whatever it is called, that looks like science illustrations but is impossible. I also sketched some chihuly pieces (I am really impressed by his glass floats, how playful and serene!) but idk, the limitations of clay mean that I will not be able to really pull off anything like his shapes.

So. I am making an Item. Maybe it will look like a tribute to the sea. Maybe it will look like an alien. I think I will paint it black (there are only a few colors of school glazes, and bc we have to fire at cone 10 apparently not that many glazes for that firing temperature are very rich or bright even if i went to get my own.) and submerge it in water. If only I had a little water feature in the yard.

Speaking of glazes, glaze is often where a student sculpture falls apart (not literally, the joins and removing it from the armature are where they literally do). I think it is because you can't see the true color while you work, only after firing, so coordinating colors and choosing the appropriate one is very hard. A lot of work looks dusty or murky, or overly bright and neon. I don't know how to overcome this especially with only the 10 colors of school glaze available, so I plan to make my pieces black or white, or raku fire them. Oooh I bet this sea creature will look awesome if i can raku fire it.

Sculpture 1

I am taking my first community college art class at Contra Costa College. It is really different than art at UCSC [I have only 1 studio course under my belt there, although I do have 2 courses that were lectures with a TA supervised studio component] because it is not very strict. There are several high school students, people without art training, even some people without art interest (who need to get the GE for their AA I suppose) as well as some intermediate and advanced students. Most of the advanced students are older women and men who are artists in other disciplines. So there is a huge range of inclinations and abilities, and it is a lot of fun to see what everyone comes up with for each assignment (only the beginning students have to work on the same assignments though.)

I am making this terrible thing. It is our first free sculpture, and the prompt was to make a vehicle or anything you want. I went with anything I want, and I have a crooked stack of semispheres. It is so bad. I can't stand how bad it is. But, over the weekend thinking about it I decided to make it more sea creaturey, and I am excited about it again. I am going to hollow it as best I can, and cover it in appendages and textures, mainly tentacles of course but also some shapes I am lifting from Chihuly's venetian vases and seaforms.