Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Learning About Allergies

I have been reading up on allergies for a few days and they are terrible! Especially for a person with several allergies! My roommate is allergic to wheat and dairy. The wheat is like poison and the dairy is alright if she takes a dairy digesting pill with it. We eat together a little, like if the dining hall has something wheat free she'll eat that and I'll eat whatever looks good, or at home we've both boiled spaghetti, hers rice and mine flour, and then had everything else the same.

It seems like of all the allergies hers isn't too bad for cravings and nutrition, she can have all the foodgroups and can get her carbohydrates from rice, potatos, and all kinds of unusual flour. But for convenience and joining in at others' meals it is a terrible allergy. Tonight I made myself a pizza and it reminded me to look up gluten free pizza dough. All the recipes I saw required xanthan gum (makes it sticky and hold together) and some had as many as 5 flours (white rice, brown rice, tapioca, sorghum, and chickpea flour. Idk why they left out cornmeal flour while they were at it because that is what you put on the pizza pan to make the bottom nice, and what's one more?). Well, that is quite a lot to buy to make something I don't know what it is supposed to look like or how to tell if the dough is all right, so I told her how daunting it seemed and she said that she'll pick up the premixed dough. Well, alright. That's not how I roll but she has a point.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lighted Sculpture: Squid Lamp

I used what I learned from the Branch to make this one. It's encouraging because there is a clear upward trend in the execution of my ideas. Here is the shape I started with:
I liked it because it looked cheerful. I like to test different things though so I turned all the sticks to curve in.
I liked that a lot, and I used nylons to create a shade, stiffened with fabric stiffener, and now I am going to paint it. I think pink.

The tentacle sticks ended up bent farther in than I intended because of tension from the nylons. I suspected it would pull them in a bit but tried to minimize the tension. The way they are pulled in makes the shadow neat. Instead of the five points of shadow it had when I tested it it has a flower shape. I think it will get sharper once I paint the nylon.

Lighted Sculpture: Branch Lamp

I spent so long getting this to hold together. So long. I initially wanted to make two swoops of claw branches, each swoop a spray of curved and knobbly branches. I tried making these claws so many times. Eventually I got one, but it used an interesting doubled over root structure that I only had one of. So my several attempts to make a matching claw were failures. So I tried building like a curve lamp thing with the swoop I liked but it didn't look balanced. So I ripped it apart and kept only the claw thing. And then I took off a lot of it to make it less cluttered. I snapped off the two narrow or odd direction parts. Then I painted it. I wanted it a light delicate color but I needed to make the base black to hide the nylons I used to anchor everything. So I did a black/purple/gold/yellow/white gradation which I love. The tips just fade out in space.

Then it got dark and I turned it on. Oops. I thought a bulb would cast a shadow of what was next to it but light casts sharper shadows of things that are a little ways away. Even by turning it all directions and holding it close to the wall I couldn't get a remotely clear shadow. Also, the bulb wasn't hidden. I knew I wasn't covering the bulb but I thought the sticks would obscure it. But no, it hurts my eyes to look at. Always sad when your project literally hurts to look at. So, what? Do I detach the light and use it as a wall.... thing? A hanging... thing? I know I could wire LEDs to the tips but how would that use the nice shape I made? Also I don't totally know that I could wire LEDs to be plugged in to the wall which is how I want all of my sculptures to be usable. So I'm thinking of making a translucent covering and just putting the bulb in it. I want to be able to run thin, exposed wires up each stick to a tiny round incandescent bulb. I bet they have that. I bet my prof knows.

Lighted Sculptures: What I Have Learned

Making sculptures that light up is hard. Last summer I made a house shaped ceramic tealight holder and clay is malleable and I had been working with the same kind of clay for a month and it still came out funny. As a sculpture I was happy with it, as a candle holder it is, well, functional but only with workarounds. The top gets really hot even though I made it tall. I made a slot in the bottom to put the candles in which is a bit of a challenge, and you have to light the candles with a spaghetti stick lit on the stove (or a skewer, but spaghetti is cheaper) poked through one of the windows. And for some reason I thought the little chimneys would actually vent heat. I don't think it's dangerous to use (around adults who I have warned about the heat retention) because the ceramic has been heated a lot hotter than that in the kilns so it won't break, and isn't flammable.

Ok so this quarter I got to do an independent study course, which in my department at least are self developed. These can be on any topic but the professor I approached to facilitate it was my Electronics for Intermedia prof who was really good at fabrication and helping us work around challenges with fabrication and materials (also programming, but that is so many hours for such a little result..., also, not where my talents lie I think). So I wasn't going to be like "I want to do a series of paintings of the sky". Not his area, and IMO a waste of his time, or skills, or something. So, "lighted sculptures". Sculptures that come to life when lit, have interesting shadows, idk. Just sculptures that use light. And in our only meeting so far he told me to be less literal, so I am trying to be quite experimental in materials.

And so far I have learned that non standard materials, repurposed materials, are a challenge. They are really tricky. I have done a bunch of art with odds and ends and scraps: fabric, vinyl, beads, puff paint, dirt, silverware. But that was like... I don't know... less ambitious than what I am trying now because often the materials were already intended for fabrication and I was just repurposing them (vinyl for signs ->vinyl for the fronts of greeting cards). So I guess I will talk about the different things I've tried and the unique challenges they have.

Aluminum Cans: It took a lot of hand strength to cut through the cans with a box cutter. If I did only a few cuts it would have been fine, but the turtle shell skeleton had a lot of little edges and holes. I used scissors part of the time which helped, but my hand was really tired from pressing with the box cutter by the time I was done. They do hold their shape when bent, even narrow parts, which was helpful. But it doesn't hold up at all under the weight of damp tissue. Had to brace it between cans to get even the small amount of depth it has.

Lichen: I feel like there is a cool way to use lichen and I will find it. The way it filters light is really cool. But lichen on a lamp doesn't look alive enough. It looks dried and dead. But it is dried and alive. It can even live in space. I think I need to find a texture to combine it with, like metal. Because combining it with sticks or black plastic didn't work. Or maybe I need a sleeker way to anchor it.

Sticks: Sticks are the worst! I don't know how people figured out wood was a building material. They don't stay and they snap a lot and... actually I guess that's all. They don't stay how you have them and they snap. But I spent 10 hours this weekend trying to overcome or manage those two qualities so I feel like they are a big deal. On the other hand they take paint really well. The texture of the stick still comes through and everything. What I figured out to do do make a branch shape was wire everything together (like a panflute arrangement) and then anchor it with nylons. Things that don't work (in order from closest to working to farthest from working): ribbon, hair elastics, thread, yarn, tension from other sticks.

Ok. So I'm learning a lot. And it's not coming too easily either. And I don't have an at all decent sculpture so far.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lighted Sculpture: Shadow

For my second Light Sculpture project I got super excited about the potential of lichen for weaving and soft filtered light.

Yeah, that is a $3 ikea desk lamp decorated with lichen macrame. I was excited about the column of illuminate lichen I imagined and wanted to conceal the black lamp with lichen so it just kind of happened. Then, from exactly the same components plus also a stick, I made a shadow sculpture that I am at least not ashamed of.
See I unscrewed the top part of the metal stick and wedged in a wooden stick that i bent with a giant plastic twist tie.

Here is a straight side view.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lighted Sculpture: Turtle Lamp

So I want the lamps to be gossamer, fleshy, plant like, have skeletons, integrate wax or latex dripping and moss and bark and- well. The thing to do is sketch, and start. See where it goes. So I started with aluminum cans, made a model of an archelon skeleton. Just the shell. Archelon has a different skeleton than modern turtles. The carapace looks a bit like our ribs, and the plastron for some reason has starburst plates.

I spent a few hours cutting up 4 aluminum cans and sewing them together and bending them.

Then I covered each side with a split kleenex, ie one kleenex covered the whole lamp. It's soaked in fabric stiffening medium.
Then when it was dry I lit it up. I like it! But it looked really bad when turned off. I want it to look all right both ways, but not look the same. Sort of soft and bulbous, then skeletal and vivid. But the crumpled tissue looks a lot crumplier and sloppier than I'd hoped. Applying the kleenex from the inside and using a hairdryer to bulge it out would have done the shape i was thinking of but would be terribly hard.

I gave it a coat of yellow mixed with orange/green interference shine stuff, mixed with uv protectant laquer for transparency. Then I brushed a second layer on the parts with aluminum to hide the shine and silver of it.

I plan to coat it with alazarin crimson (my most transparent red) but I like it so much as a yellow thing. I've no idea how to finish it. I actually think i should put it as a hanging lamp on a small bulb, and use air dry clay to blend the narrow end of the shell with the lightbulb casing and leave the open end as it is with maybe a few coats of laquer on the rim to smooth it out. actually i have a lamp part that can do that if i swap it with a very low wattage bulb.

Edit: I put it on the hanging thing and it works well. The hanging one is a crazy long cord from ikea meant to thread all around the wall and ceiling and support a pendant lamp. I think the turtle is too small for it but I am now planning to add blue leaves (either made from aluminum in the shape of turtle fins or more tentacular) to finish the base. That will bulk it up. If I can manage it it should also balance the way the lamp is narrow and flat.

My first lighted sculpture is not terrific but it will improve.

Lighted Sculpture Progress 1

Well I went to Ikea for basic lamps to illuminate my lighted sculptures. I found one I was interested in called Sunnan, which is 19.99, solar powered, and when you buy one one is given to a child who hasn't got electricity. I was interested in it because it is self contained, cordless, and since I am doing sort of plant-like organic lamps I like that it interacts with the sun. However, 19.99 is only kind of in my budget. If I bought it I wouldn't be able to buy other lamps, which I do need (though trying to figure out how I could buy the Sunnan I tried to figure out whether I could use only christmas lights my family already has for the other lamps, whether I could decorate my bed lamp, etc.), or if I bought other lamps I can't order liquid latex. So I bypassed it. I told myself I didn't want it anyway because warm light is very important for the aesthetic I want.

I ended up buying 2 lamp bases from the as-is section and one from the regular section. I spent 10.96 and I was really happy with that. I found lightbulbs for the 2 that were sold without, and started playing with making shades.

God Dream

I have only had a few really, really uplifting dreams in my life, and they make me feel uplifted for weeks when I think of them. I intermittently keep a dream journal but I don't have time in the morning considering how ordinary my dreams are usually.

Anyway. I was playing on a playground with other children, and a hole opened up in the ground. it was full of water and many of us fell in. The older children and teachers gathered instead of running, and helped us out from smallest to biggest. I was second. There were a few kids left in the hole who couldn't be fished out when it started deepening and shrinking away from us. I didn't want them to be alone so I dove in again. I think I died, because then I was in God's Library. It looked like a perfect diorama of some region, but instead of a horizon there were books all around. I didn't know how I got there and I felt I wasn't allowed. I was the height of a medium to small sized book. There were lots of rooms but I couldn't get into them. Then by running into a glass door I got it to open enough to slip through. This room was more protected, and a rhino headed angel guard went after me to keep me away. I hid amongst the books and took peeks at them, trying to remember everything I could because when would i ever get another chance? The rhino angel shot at me with arrows, but I dove into the large, clean diorama to evade him. I wanted to get out of the library and fly in the sky, but I couldn't find any way out of the library. Then I did and it was lovely.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Moss Scapes

Watching Rivers and Tides, the documentary about Andy Goldsworthy, made me really want to get my hands dirty in nature. So I did.
This one is supposed to evoke castles. Moss is a great medium I think, the trick will be keeping it alive.

These are dorodangos that i left really rough, going to get smoothed every time i spray the moss to water it.

By open studios i will have a table full of these i think. they take a bit more than 2 hours to build, after the moss is collected. They are to showcase my lamps which will poke out from between the moss scapes.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Love Robot 2


I made Andrew another Love Bot, this one from Magic sculpt. I am really proud of how finished it is. The paint is a little uneven but the resin is really smooth and perfect.

I built it around a tiny, tiny bottle so it can hold pills, and so it wouldn't be empty I rolled up a love note and stuck it in.